Scouting Reports on Marlins' Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Justin Nicolino

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

Miami's new shortstop, at least when Yunel Escobar goes away, Adeiny Hechavarria.
Miami's new shortstop, at least when Yunel Escobar goes away, Adeiny Hechavarria.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

In their never-ending effort to prove that they have no interest in building a Major League Baseball roster, the Miami Marlins decided to trade away every big league asset they still have not named Giancarlo Stanton to the Toronto Blue Jays.  

According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Marlins are sending starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck and super-utility player Emilio Bonafacio to Toronto in exchange for shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechacarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino and Anthony Descalfini, outfielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Jeff Mathis. 

Since the Marlins are, in their own way, building for the future with the three big prospects in the deal (Nicolino, Marisnick and Hechavarria), here is a look at the scouting reports on those players. 


Left-Handed Pitcher Justin Nicolino

2012 Stats: 10-4, 28 G (22 Starts), 124.1 IP, 112 Hits, 21 BB, 119 K, 6 HR Allowed, .241 BAA (Low Class A Lansing)

Nicolino spent his second full season in professional ball playing in the Midwest League at the age of 20. His upside is less than that of fellow Lansing pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez because his fastball is only average, but Nicolino is more likely to hit his ceiling because of advanced command and control, as well as a potentially plus changeup. .


What They Are Saying

ESPN's Keith Law wrote (for Insiders Only) about the deal shortly after it was announced, saying that Nicolino's ability to attack hitters by throwing strikes and a simple delivery makes him likely to "pitch toward the middle of a rotation for a long time."


Big League Role

There is no reason to think that Nicolino won't be a quality Major League starting pitcher. The changeup gives him a weapon to get right-handed hitters out, and his ability to locate in the zone already is a big plus. 

Nicolino's ceiling is that of a No. 2-3 starter in the big leagues, depending on how well his breaking ball develops. I saw him pitch twice in 2012 and felt like he was going to move much quicker than Sanchez and Syndergaard in the Blue Jays' system because of his command and fastball-changeup combination. 


Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria

2012 Minor League Stats: 102 G, .312/.363/.424, 138 Hits, 6 HR, 63 RBI, 86 K, 38 BB, 8 SB (Triple-A Las Vegas)

2012 MLB Stats: 41 G, .254/.280/.365, 32 Hits, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 32 K, 4 BB


Like Boston Red Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias, Hechavarria is an outstanding defensive player with serious question marks about how much he is going to hit. Don't be fooled by his Triple-A stat line, as Las Vegas and the Pacific Coast League are notorious for inflating offensive numbers. 

Hechavarria has all the tools to be a star with the glove. He boasts a plus arm with good range that plays up thanks to tremendous instincts. 

The bat is a different story entirely. Hechavarria has never been a patient hitter, nor does he have a swing that allows him to drive the ball into the gaps. The best bet for his offensive profile will be to get an empty .250-.260 average that will keep him a starter because his defense is so good. 


What They Are Saying

In its recent Blue Jays Top 10 Prospect List that recently published, Baseball America (for Subscribers Only) wrote that Hechavarria has the range, hands and arm strength for shortstop, but that "scouts still aren't sold on his offensive ability."

He has a simple swing and some bat speed but is still learning how to put together professional at-bats. While he's strong and has some gap power, he doesn't project as a home run threat.

If you follow Hechavarria's stat lines throughout the minor leagues, which don't necessarily tell the whole story, you can see that his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired. Away from Las Vegas, he never hit better than .264 in a full season with a .305 on-base percentage. 


Big League Role

Hechavarria's role depends on how the bat plays. If he can manage to hit in the .250 range with an on-base percentage around .300, he can hit at the bottom of a lineup and play every day because the glove is so good. 

That being said, I don't think he will ever do that. His bat has not developed as much as you would like to see given that he is going to be 24 years old next April and has had three full seasons in the minors to adjust. He strikes me as a late-inning defensive replacement right now. 


Centerfielder Jake Marisnick

2012 Stats: 120 G, .249/.321/.399, 122 Hits, 8 HR, 50 RBI, 100 K, 37 BB, 24 SB (Between High Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire)


Marisnick has the highest ceiling of the three big prospects going to Miami, though he is also far from reaching it. Time is starting to work against him reaching it, as he will be 22 next March and isn't progressing as well as expected given his tools. 

Specifically, Marisnick's offensive ceiling looks to be lowering. After hitting .320/.392/.496 with low Class A Lansing in 2011, he regressed this past season thanks to a sloppy approach and not making adjustments. 

Despite those concerns, Marisnick still has the tools to be a very good big leaguer. He has power in his bat, though it didn't play in 2012 because his approach was bad. He has speed on the bases and in the outfield, good range and a strong, accurate throwing arm. 


What They Are Saying

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America posted on Twitter a brief scouting capsule for Marisnick, as well a potential move the Marlins might have to make with their top prospect. 

Marisnick: plus speed, plus arm. Plus power. Big questions about the hit tool. Good prospect, not as good as Christian Yelich.

— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) November 14, 2012

With Stanton, Marsnick might end up in LF, can play all 3. Yelich only options are LF and CF. Not enough arm for RF.

— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) November 14, 2012

Yelich took a huge step forward in 2012, showing more in-game power with a much better approach and plan at the plate than he had in 2011. Given that his hit tool is more advanced than Marisnick's, the Marlins might find it more beneficial to play Yelich in center, where his bat will be more valuable. 


Big League Role

Marisnick has a long way to go before reaching his five-tool ceiling. He can be a star in the big leagues, but he is going to have to make several adjustments in 2013 in order to prove he can reach it. 

He has enough tools to be a starter in the big leagues, it is just a question of whether he is a first-division starter.