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Miami Marlins Top 20 Prospects for 2016

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 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!

All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.


Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other 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. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.

Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis 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) Stone Garrett, OF, Grade B-: Age 20, hit .297/.352/.581 in the New York-Penn League, 11 homers, 19 walks, 60 strikeouts in 222 at-bats, led pitching-oriented league in homers and SLG against older competition. Eighth round pick in 2014 made rapid progress, power is genuine, runs well, still working on contact issues. Garrett and Josh Naylor below are the two impact bats in this system. I will admit that putting Garrett ahead of Kolek is a little clickbaity, but see the point below.

2) Tyler Kolek, RHP, Grade B-:
Age 20, first round pick in 2014, posted 4.56 ERA with 81/61 K/BB in 109 innings in Low-A. Threw 102 MPH in high school, last year his fastball ranged from 88 in some outings to as high as 100 and was usually in the low-90s. Secondary pitches and command are mediocre at best resulting in weak component ratios given the less consistent velocity. Very high upside, but very high risk as well. Will rank number one in the system on most lists and that’s defensible, but if you just call him Player X instead of Tyler Kolek, it gets harder to make the case that he’s significantly more valuable than Garrett or Naylor. Based solely on the merits and not the draft slot, he’s not.

The safe, consensus thing to do would be rate Kolek number one with a bunch of caveats, but I’ll take a chance this year.

3) Josh Naylor, 1B, Grade B-:
Age 18, hit .327/.351/.418 in rookie ball, first round pick from high school in Ontario, highest drafted Canadian ever. Huge power inherent in 6-0, 225 frame, draws Prince Fielder comps. This grade may turn out to be too conservative and the more I think about it, the more I think he may ultimately belong ahead of both Kolek and Garrett. I’ll table that idea until spring training.

4) Jarlin Garcia, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 22, posted 3.06 ERA, 69/23 K/BB in 97 innings in High-A, 4.91 ERA with 35/17 K/BB in 37 innings in Double-A. 90-95 fastball, good curve and improved change, command can get sloppy but when he’s on he looks like a steady number four starter, perhaps more.

5) Brett Lilek, LHP, Grade B-/C+:
Age 22, second round pick in 2015 from Arizona State, erratic in college but quite good in pro ball, 3.34 ERA with 43/7 K/BB in 35 innings in NY-P. Good size at 6-4, 225, average fastball, solid curve and change, command was much better in pro ball than it was in college. If he maintains that, will move quickly as number four starter type, perhaps more.

6) Kendry Flores, RHP, Grade B-/C+:
Age 24, posted 2.29 ERA with 85/29 K/BB in 118 innings between Double-A, Triple-A, 4.97 ERA in 13 big league innings with 9/4 K/BB. Pitchability type with 88-93 fastball, average change, curve, slider, throws strikes, has never excited scouts but has been successful when healthy. Another number four starter type.

7) Brian Anderson, 3B, Grade C+:
Age 22, hit .235/.304/.344 with eight homers, 40 walks, 109 strikeouts in 477 at-bats in High-A. I was really high on him a year ago so this was disappointing for former University of Arkansas standout but I think he can rebound if he can lock down the strike zone more efficiently. Played very well with the glove at third base.

8) Austin Dean, OF, Grade C+
: Age 22, hit .268/.318/.366 with five homers, 18 steals, 39 walks, 76 strikeouts in 519 at-bats in High-A. Like teammate Anderson he didn’t meet expectations but still has potential, features more speed on the bases than Anderson but less power and defensive value.

9) Ivan Pineyro, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 24, acquired from Cubs in Dan Haren deal, posted 3.58 ERA with 118/41 K/BB in 146 innings at three levels finishing strong in Pacific Coast League. Like Flores, he has average stuff more or less and relies on pitching instincts, command, change of speed, but it has worked when healthy. Another potential fourth starter, hasn’t received the same attention as Flores but a similar talent.

10) Nick Wittgren, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 24, posted 3.03 ERA with 64/8 K/BB in 62 innings in PCL, 19 saves, excellent track record as minor league closer with deceptive delivery, low-90s fastball, above-average breaking ball, aggressive attitude. Ready for trial as a middle reliever, one of several the Marlins have who could slot in pen this year.

11) Avery Romero, INF, Grade C+
: Age 22, hit .259/.315/.314 in High-A with 38 walks, 71 strikeouts in 455 at-bats. Like Anderson and Dean, his hitting in the Florida State League was disappointing given his past track record but he still has a shot at being a useful role player. Will join them in Double-A lineup.

12) Austin Brice, RHP, Grade C+
: Age 23, posted 4.67 ERA with 127/69 K/BB in 125 innings in Double-A. Durable, eats innings, gets his strikeouts with plus curve and fastball that can hit 94, but erratic command continues to hold him back. Would not surprise me to see him thrive in pen.

13) Chris Paddack, RHP, Grade C+:
Age 20, eighth round pick in 2015 from high school in Texas, posted 2.18 ERA with 39/7 K/BB in 45 innings in rookie ball. Was supposed to be quite raw but projectable. He’s still projectable at 6-4, 190, but pitchability was much better than advertised, showing excellent change-up and promising curve, sharp control. Aggressive placement here ahead of better-known prospects but seems like a real breakthrough candidate.

14) Isaiah White, OF, Grade C:
Age 19, hit .294/.321/.381 with zero homers, 13 steals in 13 attempts, three walks, 44 strikeouts in 126 at-bats in rookie ball. Third round pick from North Carolina high school, very raw but has blazing speed and some power potential, very high ceiling but a long-term project.

15) Isael Soto, OF, Grade C:
Age 19, hit .125 with 27 strikeouts in 64 at-bats in Low-A before going down with knee injury, then went 2-for-21 in the NY-P with 10 strikeouts in late August. In between hit .346 in 26 at-bats in GCL injury rehab. Excellent left-side power potential and a favorite of many sources, was supposed to be polished for his age but performance did not support those reports. Like White and Holloway, a very high ceiling talent.

16) Jordan Holloway, RHP, Grade C:
Age 19, posted 2.91 ERA with 40/36 K/BB in 68 innings in NY-P, 20th round pick in 2014 from high school in Colorado, lanky, projectable, can hit 95 but secondary pitches and command remain very raw. Like White, has a high ceiling but needs time.

17) Justin Jacome, LHP, Grade C:
Age 22, fifth round pick from UC Santa Barbara, posted 2.48 ERA with 29/7 K/BB in 33 innings in NY-P. Good debut, could be similar to Lilek but reports aren’t quite as enthusiastic and some believe he will fit better in bullpen.

18) Cody Poteet, RHP, Grade C:
Age 22, fourth round pick in 2015 from UCLA, 2.13 ERA with 12/2 K/BB in 13 innings in NY-P. Like Jacome he is an advanced college pitcher who should move through the system quickly but long-term role is unclear at this time. Both will make more rapid impact than Paddack or Holloway but offer less upside. Fantasy owners should view accordingly depending on their needs.

19) Kyle Barraclough, RHP, Grade C:
Age 25, acquired from Cardinals for Steve Cisek, posted 2.59 ERA with 30/18 K/BB in 24 major league innings after dominating high minors. Throws hard but needs to lower walk rate to maintain the ERA. Could be good source of filler innings.

20) Brian Ellington, RHP, Grade C:
Age 25, 16th round pick in 2012 from West Florida, posted 2.88 ERA in 25 major league innings with 18/13 K/BB. Like Barraclough, he throws hard enough to be a good middle reliever if the command is there.

OTHERS OF NOTE: Jeff Brigham, RHP; Jake Esch, RHP; Raudel Lazo, LHP; Michael Mader, LHP; Austin Nola, SS; Nefi Ogando, RHP; Chris Reed, LHP; J.T. Riddle, INF; Arturo Rodriguez, C-1B; Anfernee Seymour, SS; Tomas Telis, C; K.J. Woods, 1B

There’s some decent pitching in this system but a distinct lack of impact bats, though Garrett and Naylor (and maybe White and Soto) might change that. The Grade C guys are essentially interchangeable and I highlighted the ones I found most interesting for one reason or another.

I will be around to answer questions in the comments section tomorrow.