Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Miami Marlins' Farm System

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterDecember 19, 2012

Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in the Miami Marlins' Farm System

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    It was an eventful year for Jeffery Loria and the Miami Marlins, though, it was for all the wrong reasons. After landing an enormous free-agent class—highlighted by Jose Reyes—prior to the 2012 season, the organization lacked consistency at the major league level and failed to string together successes.

    They began to clear house around the trade deadline in late July, moving high-contract veterans such as Hanley Ramirez and soon-to-be free agents such as Anibal Sanchez for projectable, minor league talent. Just when it appeared the Marlins’ fire-sale was complete, they decided to trade half of their big league roster (Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and John Buck) to the Blue Jays in exchange for four high-upside prospects. Overall, the trades executed by the Marlins this past season landed them three of their top-10 prospects.

    Right-hander Jose Fernandez and outfielder Christian Yelich, who rank among the top-25 prospects in the game, highlight the organization’s prospect pool. Both players are highly advanced for their age with projectable tools, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they reach the major leagues together later this season. In general, six of the team’s top-10 prospects have the potential to reach the major leagues at some point during the 2013 season.

    Beyond that, the Marlins’ system boasts an abundance of athleticism and loud tools. And if a majority of the players come close to reaching their respective ceilings, then they could once again be a serious presence in the National League East as early as the 2015 season.

10. C Jacob (J.T.) Realmuto

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    Position: C

    DOB: 3/18/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2010 (Carl Albert HS, Okla.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Enjoyed one of the best high school seasons in history as a senior, batting .595 with 28 home runs and 119 RBI; excellent athlete who played multiple positions in high school; converted to a catcher upon selection in 2010 draft; one of my favorite athletes in the minors; posted .801 OPS in full-season debut at Low-Greensboro in 2011; batted .256/.319/.345 with 24 extra-base hits, 13 stolen bases and 64/37 K/BB in 123 games at High-A in 2012.

    Has the hand-eye coordination, strength and natural talent to hit for both average and power; wraps bat and bars front arm; swing was much longer this past season; casts hands around too many pitches; swing often lacks fluidity and rhythm; plus-raw power but utility is questionable; has solid plate discipline, now just needs to put it all together.

    Rare breed of catcher who’s also an above-average runner capable of double-digit stolen bases; impressive catch-and-throw skill set; quick release and plus-arm strength result in consistent pop times around 1.8 seconds; game-calling and ability to slow down the game should improve with experience; still relatively new to the position; footwork and blocking continues to improve; would benefit from opening 2013 season back at High-A.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Jupiter

9. IF Avery Romero

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    Position: IF

    DOB: 5/11/1993 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 195

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2012 (Pedro Menendez HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 5’11”, 195-pound frame doesn’t require much projection; batted .223/.309/.347 in pro debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League; finished the season by batting .381/.458/.381 in seven games with Short-Season Jamestown; have always been a big fan of Romero’s bat; advanced approach for a prep hitter; right-handed swing is short and compact; effortlessly drives the ball; above-average-to-plus raw power, not sure how frequent it’ll be as a professional; hit tool has above-average potential.

    Hard-worker who can play multiple infield positions; lacks speed but isn’t a base-clogger; range is limited and hurts his defensive projection; footwork is raw but his plus arm plays at any position; overall value and development will be tied to his hitting and power.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Low-A Greensboro

8. RHP Austin Brice

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 6/19/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Ninth round, 2010 (Northwood High School, N.C.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Made his full-season debut in 2012 after back-to-back years in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League; 6’4”, 205-pound right-hander registered a 4.35 ERA and 10.0 K/9 in 109.2 innings at Low-A Jupiter; 5.6 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 leave plenty of room for improvement; mechanics are inconsistent and sloppy; rips open with his front side; hasn’t learned to utilize his lower half; entire arsenal needs refinement; high ceiling, but needs to start closing developmental gap.

    Right-hander’s power arm yields a plus fastball that ranges anywhere from 91-97 mph; consistently registers towards the lower end of velocity range; delivers pitch on solid downward plane; curveball has sharp downer bite; inconsistent pitch; changeup is present but nothing special, and will be crucial towards his overall development.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Jupiter

7. OF Marcell Ozuna

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 11/12/1990 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Feb., 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 6’2”, 190-pound outfielder batted .266/.330/.482 with 23 home runs and 121/46 K/BB over 552 plate appearances in 2011 at Low-A Greensboro; nearly identical production last season in High-A debut as he batted .266/.328/.476 with 24 home runs, along with 116/44 K/BB in 539 plate appearances; what you see is what you get: plus-raw power but poor approach and pitch recognition; tries to pull everything; excellent bat-to-ball ability; using pure strength to drive through the baseball; will have to employ a more defined approach and make significant adjustments.

    Loudest defensive tool is his plus arm, which is ideal for right field; highly athletic player but has slowed down a step; above-average speed translates to similar range in the outfield; if he can refine his plate discipline and respond favorably at higher levels, Ozuna could be a slightly above-average big league right fielder.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jacksonville

6. C Rob Brantly

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    Position: C

    DOB: 7/14/1989 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 205

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2010 (Cal-Riverside)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: 23-year-old catcher opened the season at Double-A Erie and finished in the major leagues; traded by the Tigers to the Marlins in the Omar Infante-Anibal Sanchez deal in July; was impressive in 31 games with Marlins, batting .290/.372/.460 with 11 extra-base hits and 16/13 K/BB; leading candidate to break camp as team’s Opening Day catcher.

    Left-handed hitter who works counts; bat path is short and consistent; drives the ball to all fields; won’t hit for much power, but enough to make him more valuable behind the plate; more power to his pull side; advanced approach gives him the chance for average hit tool; track record of mashing right-handed pitching.

    Has improved defensively since turning pro in 2010; possesses some agility behind the plate and always works hard; doesn’t have a great arm and needs to streamline his throws; solid catch-and-throw skill set; has been lauded for game-calling and knowledge of pitching staff; hard-nosed intelligent player who could have a solid career behind the plate.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: MLB

5. LHP Andrew Heaney

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 6/5/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 180

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2012 (Oklahoma State)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Ninth-overall draft pick in 2012 was top college lefty on the board; 6’3”, 180-pound frame leaves room for projection; signed late and registered a 4.95 ERA and 21/4 K/BB in 20 innings for Low-A Greensboro; athletic with long limbs; smooth delivery requires minimum effort; loose, whippy arm; pitchability; needs to get stronger before full-season debut.

    Heaney already boasts a three-pitch mix of average-to-plus pitches; fastball works in the low-90s with late life; should touch mid-90s more consistently by the time he reaches major leagues; breaking ball is a swing-and-miss offering; will lose feel for the pitch and make it slurvy; changeup is average with room to improve; advanced feel for entire arsenal could have him in the major leagues quickly.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jacksonville

4. LHP Justin Nicolino

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/22/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 160

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010 (University HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2015

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Showed pitchability and polish in full-season debut at Low-A Lansing; registered a 2.46 ERA and .241 BAA, and walked only 21 batters in 124.1 innings; projectable 6’3”, 160-pound frame with room to grow; exceptional at repeating his mechanics; can make it look easy; minor cross-body delivery lends to his overall deception; advanced feel for mixing his pitches and when to add/subtract; high-floor, mid-rotation upside.

    Fastball sits 88-92 mph; commands it to both sides of the plate; challenges both right-handed and left-handed hitters; changeup is a plus offering and easily his best pitch; thrown with deceptive arm action relative to fastball; features late fade out of the zone; comfortable throwing it in any count; mixes in a curveball that has improved over the last year; gets too loopy at times; uses entire arsenal efficiently; keeps hitters off balance with tough sequencing.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: High-A Jupiter (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was jumped to Double-A.)

3. OF Jake Marisnick

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 3/30/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 200

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2009 (Riverside Poly HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Traded by the Blue Jays in nine-player, blockbuster deal; batted .263/.349/.451 in 65 games at High-A Dunedin; .233/.286/.399 in 55 games following promotion to Double-A New Hampshire; posted an overall total of 100/37 K/BB in 120 games; 6’4”, 200-pound outfielder is a premium athlete still attempting to narrow the gap between natural ability and baseball skills; epitome of a toolsy player with five average-to-plus tools across the board.

    Right-handed hitter possesses a highly projectable frame with present strength; has the natural ability for above-average hit and power tool; streaky hitter; lanky frame results in too much movement during swing; had a good look at him in the AFL and saw the same swing every time, regardless of pitch type, location and count; too much weak contact and whiffs; bat path is long; will collapse backside in an effort to meet the ball and force contact; has struggled against above-average velocity and advanced secondary stuff; plus speed and base-stealing aptitude gives him legitimate 20-20 potential.

    Has the speed and actions to remain in center field; plus range in all directions is aided by natural instincts; glides to cover distance in the outfield; plus arm would play at all three outfield positions and is more than enough for center; his position will ultimately be tied to his production, or lack thereof; athleticism and tools give him a high-ceiling despite previous struggles.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jacksonville

2. OF Christian Yelich

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 12/5/1991 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 189

    Bats/Throws: L/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010 (Westlake HS, Calif.)

    ETA: 2014

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Yelich is easily one of the top pure hitters in the minor leagues; batted .330/.404/.519 with 46 extra-base hits and 20 stolen bases for High-A Jupiter in pitcher-friendly Florida State League; smooth, balanced left-handed swing; repeats bat path with consistency throughout the strike zone; keeps weight back and drives the ball to all fields; approach noticeably present in each at-bat; advanced pitch recognition lends to his patience at the plate; average runner who glides when he gets going; efficient base-stealer; only question is if he’ll develop enough usable power for the major leagues; more of a line-drive hitter who clears fences than an actual home run hitter.

    The 6’4”, 190-pound outfielder is an excellent athlete who’s been developed in center field; lacks range commonly associated with the position; above-average defender; only down tool is his arm, which is below average and could restrict him solely to center field; instincts and strong first step help compensate for any range deficiencies.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jacksonville

1. RHP Jose Fernandez

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 7/31/1992 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 215

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011 (Braulio Alonso HS, Fla.)

    ETA: 2013

     

    2012 Stats

     

    Scouting Notes: Fernandez was arguably the most impressive pitching prospect last season not named Dylan Bundy; registered a 1.59 ERA, 11.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 79 innings for Low-A Greensboro before midseason promotion to High-A Jupiter; continued to dominate at a more advanced level; registered 1.96 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 55 innings; given his age and lack of experience, what Fernandez did in his full-season debut was incredible.

    At 6’3”, 215 pounds, the right-hander has a power frame that’s built for innings; surprising athleticism for his size; excellent mound presence; oozes confidence on the mound, which is often perceived as arrogance; strong lower half allows him to repeat his mechanics; will have to keep his weight down as he develops physically.

    Fastball is an easy plus pitch that ranges anywhere between 92-97 mph with weight; was touching 97-99 mph in 2012 XM Futures Game; pitch explodes out of his hand with late life to his arm side; curveball is a second plus pitch in the mid-80s with excellent depth and pace; throws a hard slider with sharp, two-plane break that projects to be at least a third above-average offering; possesses a feel for his changeup beyond his years (yet another above-average to plus pitch); a lot to love in his pitchability, though he relied more on pure stuff in full-season debut;

    As he adds polish, Fernandez should be able to reach his ceiling as a No. 1 or No. 2 starting pitcher. Given his advanced makeup and potentially elite four-pitch mix, the 20-year-old could move quickly with a chance of reaching the major leagues in late 2013.

     

    2013 Opening Day Level: Double-A Jacksonville