Miami Marlins Top 20 Prospects for 2014
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2014 Baseball Prospect Book. The book has been delayed by my head injury, but it will come out eventually. Thank you for your patience and we still need pre-orders!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. In theory, most Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or unanticipated problems don't intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don't make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I'm a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for my full opinion about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Is it just me, or does this guy not get enough attention? He’s one of the top pitching prospects in baseball with three quality pitches and a great performance record. He’s not going to be a superstar but I would be surprised if he doesn’t have a long and successful career.
2) Colin Moran, 3B, Grade B+: Good things: disciplined approach, track record in college at North Carolina, baseball bloodlines as B.J. Surhoff’s nephew and Brian Moran’s brother, should hit for average with sound OBP. Questions: how much home run power? And will his glovework be more than average? The arm is sound but his range is just average, which will be fine if he hits enough.
3) Justin Nicolino, LHP, Grade B-: Borderline B. His component ratios slipped last year with a reduced strikeout rate in Low-A and Double-A, and his projection is as more of mid-rotation guy than an ace. His stock is down a little although I think that the bigger problem is that I overrated him as a B+ last year when he should have been a straight B. I still like him more than I perhaps should; we’ll see how he adapts this year.
4) Brian Flynn, LHP, Grade B-. Huge 6-8 lefty led Pacific Coast League in ERA due to improved slider and changeup to go with 88-95 MPH fastball. He got hit hard in 18 big league innings due to command troubles which hadn’t bothered him during the minor league season, but he will get more chances. Relief work is fallback option but he could become a solid fourth starter.
5) Adam Conley, LHP, Grade B-: Successful season in Double-A (3.25, 129/37 K/BB in 139 innings) on strength of low-90s fastball, strong change, improving slider, and deceptive delivery. Some scouts still see him as a reliever down the line but he’s done enough to merit consideration as a fourth starter.
6) Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Grade B-: Control-oriented inning-eater type, posted 115/33 K/BB in 129 innings between High-A and Double-A, using 90-95 MPH fastball, good slider and occasional curves and changeups. Like Flynn, Conley, and Nicolino, he projects as a competent starting pitcher.
7) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+. I respect Marisnick’s tools and he’s developed into a valuable defensive outfielder, but his over-aggressive offensive approach cuts into his production. Jeff Francoeur with less power but better defense and speed? That’s the outcome if he doesn’t get a better grasp of the strike zone.
8) Avery Romero, 2B, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Hit .297/.357/.411 in the New York-Penn League, which was quite good for the context, with improving defense at second base. More power may come in the future. Turns 21 in May, so he’s older than a typical 2012 high school draftee (third round, St. Augustine, FL). Could get into the B-range once we see him in full-season ball.
9) Jose Urena, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Another potential mid-rotation starter, posted 3.73 ERA with 107/29 K/BB in 150 innings in High-A. Good control of fastball/changeup combo, breaking stuff still under development.
10) Nick Wittgren, RHP, Grade C+: Exceptional performance record for this relief prospect, 0.77 ERA with 63/10 K/BB in 58 innings, just 42 hits, 26 saves between High-A and Double-A. Punctuated this with 0.66 ERA and 19/2 K/BB in 14 innings in Arizona Fall League. Throws reasonably hard and very deceptive. Ninth-round pick out of Purdue in 2012 continues to exceed expectations. I think he could close eventually.
11) Arquimedes Caminero, RHP, Grade C+: Gets an 80 for his name alone, but he’s got plenty of stuff and was successful in minors and big league trial (3.48 , 69/21 K/BB in 54 innings in Double-A/Triple-A, 2.77 ERA with 12/3 K/BB in 13 innings for Marlins.) Already 26 and ready to help in bullpen now.
12) J.T. Realmuto, C, Grade C+: Sound defender should have long career based on his glove, but will be relegated to reserve role unless he shows more with the bat. Hit just .239/.310/.353 in Double-A and hasn’t hit well since leaving Greensboro bandbox in ’11.
13) Austin Barnes, C-2B, Grade C+: With the giant pitching staffs and tiny benches of modern rosters, someone like Barnes looks valuable: he’s competent as both an infielder and a catcher and he’s got some contact hitting skills as well as good plate discipline. Lacks power but makes contact and will take a walk.
14) Jesus Solorzano, OF, Grade C+: Could rank as high as ninth due to broad tool base, hit .285/.325/.450 with 15 homers and 33 steals in Low-A. However, his plate discipline is substandard (24 walks, 111 strikeouts) and it remains to be seen if he can handle advanced pitching. Already 23 so the clock is ticking.
15) Sam Dyson, RHP, Grade C+: Power sinker stands out with this one. Posted 2.67 ERA with 62/36 K/BB in 111 innings between three levels, with 2.26 GO/AO and one homer allowed, but was hit hard in 11 big league innings. Could be inning-eating starter or a useful relief arm if the command is ther.
16) Colby Suggs, RHP, Grade C+: University of Arkansas product provides another power relief arm, posted 3.29 ERA with 38/18 K/BB in 27 innings in pro debut at three levels. Main issue here will be control but fastball/curve combination can be overpowering.
17) Jarlin Garcia, LHP, Grade C+: Multiple sources praising this guy as breakthrough candidate, posted 3.10 ERA with 74/18 K/BB in 70 innings in New York-Penn League. Smooth delivery, low-90s fastball and a good curve, just turned 21. Mid-rotation potential if it comes together in full-season ball.
18) Grant Dayton, LHP, Grade C+: Borderline C. This guy always gets people out and did it again in Double-A, 2.37 ERA with 56/12 K/BB in 38 innings. Low-90s fastball with a breaking ball and changeup, always posts excellent strikeout rates but seldom mentioned as a prospect despite success record and workable stuff.
19) Trevor Williams, RHP, Grade C: Arizona State product is another groundballer, posted 2.38 ERA with 24/8 K/BB in 34 innings in pro debut with 2.24 GO/AO. Strikeout rates were low in college but will grounders compensate?
20) Ryan Newell, RHP, Grade C: Sleeper prospect dominated New York-Penn League, 2.09 ERA with 75/21 K/BB, 2.40 GO/AO in 82 innings just 60 hits allowed, fastball clocked as high as 95. Seventh round pick in 2012 from Shorter University in Georgia. We need to see him at higher levels but he made progress last year.
OTHERS: Michael Brady, RHP; Austin Brice, RHP; Austin Dean, OF; Domingo German, RHP; Tyler Higgins, RHP; Mason Hope, RHP; Kyle Jensen, OF; Brent Keys, OF; Javier Lopez, SS; Edgar Olmos, LHP; J.T. Riddle, INF; Angel Sanchez, RHP; Sean Townsley, LHP
The Marlins are very reliant on young players and prospects given their business model. As it currently stands, the organization has reasonable depth in pitching prospects. Heaney is the best of the lot still in the minor leagues, and he should be a fine rotation asset behind graduated Jose Fernandez perhaps as soon as the second half of 2014.
Behind him there is a large group of potential number three/four starters, the inning-eater types. They won’t all pan out, of course, but there’s some depth to work with. The raw material for a solid big league bullpen is present as well with guys like Caminero, Wittgren, Dayton, and others ready soon.
The position player side is much thinner. Moran is the best bet and he may be more solid regular than star. Graduated Christian Yelich should have a long and successful career, but Marisnick has to get the strike zone under control. Avery Romero has some breakout potential, but the other hitters look more like bench contributors from here.
They could use more power-oriented starting pitchers and more impact hitters, but the organization isn’t empty despite recent graduations. verall I’d say this is an average system.