Christian Yelich has reclaimed his place as the Miami Marlins' best prospect.
And with the first 10 rounds of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft completed, it's time to re-rank of the Marlins minor league system.
1. Christian Yelich, LF
2013 stats: .262 batting average, six home runs, 28 runs batted in, .342 on-base percentage, .518 slugging percentage, .861 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Analysis: Now that Fernandez has stuck with the big league club, Yelich reclaims his throne as the Marlins top prospect.
The Marlins' only two-time Minor League Player of the Year, Yelich tore it up after he returned from the disabled list with a stone bruise to his left heel, according to MLB.com, by hitting .337 with six home runs and 23 RBI in the first 23 games. Then, he hit a wall, hitting .159 (11-for-69) in the next 18 games before he was placed on the disabled list Thursday with a strained abdominal muscle.
“He thought it was a little dull pain, but as he was playing the game [Monday] he was feeling it a little bit more,” Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett told the Suns’ radio network via the Bradenton Herald. “So as a precautionary measure we took him out to get him checked out.”
Once Yelich proves he's healthy again, it won't be long before he's promoted to the big leagues. The question is when, since the Marlins want to avoid starting Yelich's service clock too early and there's a logjam in the Marlins outfield with Juan Pierre in left field, Chris Coghlan smoking the ball in center field, Ozuna in right field, and 23-year-old slugger Giancarlo Stanton set to return from the DL as early as Monday.
The most likely scenarios are Yelich gets hot again and forces the organization's hand, Pierre is traded by the July 31 trade deadline or Coghlan goes cold (he's hitting .359 since being inserted into the everyday lineup May 18).
2. Jake Marisnick, CF
2013 stats: .246 BA, 6 HR, 26 RBI, .310 OBP, .438 SLG, .748 OPS with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Analysis: Marisnick has power and plays a premium position, but he might have issues getting on base as the level of competition increases.
In Marisnick's short career, he's hit .238 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 353 Double-A at-bats, but in the lower levels, Marisnick is a .286 hitter with 24 home runs and 138 RBI in 992 at-bats.
That said, it's hard to top what he did May 30 when he hit two grand slams in back-to-back innings against the same pitcher. Marisnick accumulated nine RBI, which set a new Suns record and tied the Southern League mark.
While Marisnick might be as heralded as Yelich and Ozuna, he might be the one who will have the most issues offensively.
"We all know he can play center field and he can run, he can do a lot of things," Marlins manager Mike Redmond told the Sun-Sentinel. "He's a big guy that can run, but he's got some power. I know when I was in Toronto we would all talk about when's that going to show. That's really the question. It's just a matter of improvement with that bat. When that comes, so will he."
3. Colin Moran, 3B
2013 stats: .348 BA, 13 HR, 86 RBI, .478 OBP, .557 SLG, 1.035 OPS with North Carolina Tar Heels
Analysis: The Marlins' revolving door at third base could finally be coming to an end.
The Marlins selected Moran as the sixth overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft, five-and-a-half years after the Marlins traded future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers. The nephew of B.J. Surhoff, the former No. 1 overall draft pick, Moran is a left-handed hitter who has driven in an NCAA best 86 runs and is the ACC Player of the Year.
Marlins director of scouting Stan Meek told foxsportsflorida.com he sees Moran as a player with gap power and will hit a lot of doubles in spacious Marlins Park. Meek also told the Miami Herald he compares Moran to a young Wade Boggs. What this means is Moran might never hit more than 20 home runs in a year, but what excite the Marlins is his knowledge of the strike zone, evidence by the 60 walks and 22 strikeouts Moran has accrued this year.
Who is the Marlins top prospect?
“What I like about him is he’s not concerned with the home run as much as he is driving the ball and the ball comes off the bat well,” Meek said to the Miami Herald. “I like a guy who can hit first. This guy stays on the ball in all parts on the zone. That for us is where you start. I think he’ll have adequate power to hit at third base.”
Moran is a junior, so he does have the option of returning to school. The allotted draft slot for this year’s sixth pick is $3,516,500. If Moran signs, Meek said the Marlins will likely send Moran to Single A Greensboro (N.C.).
4. Justin Nicolino, LHP
2013 stats: 2-1 record, 2.42 earned run average, nine walks allowed, 39 strikeouts, 63 1/3 innings pitched with Jupiter Hammerheads (Advanced Single-A)
Analysis: After a slow start, Nicolino has found his groove. And he has the hardware to show for it.
Nicolino was named the Marlins’ Minor League pitcher of the month for May, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.76 ERA in six starts, according to the Palm Beach Post. He struck out 29 batters and walked four in 31.2 innings. In April, Nicolino was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He also walked five and had just eight strikeouts in 25 innings.
Nicolino relies on a fastball clocked in the 89-91-mph range, but the pitch that sets him apart is his devastating changeup. As such, he has drawn comparisons to Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.
"It's a good honor -- to say that I pitch like some [established] guys," Nicolino told MLB.com. I look at that as just motivation to get there, to the big leagues. You hope that someday some guys in the Minor Leagues will be saying, 'I want to be like Justin Nicolino.'"
5. Andrew Heaney, LHP
2013 stats: 0-0, 1.46 ERA, 4 BB, 18 SO, 12 1/3 IP with Jupiter Hammerheads (Advanced Single-A)
Analysis: Now that Heaney is healthy, he's beginning to show what he's capable of and why the Marlins selected him with the ninth overall pick of the 2012 draft.
Making his 2013 debut after being injured for nearly three months with a strained lat muscle, Heaney struck out nine while giving up an unearned run in 4.1 innings against the Daytona Cubs on May 20. In the next start, Heaney pitched five shutout innings, striking out six Palm Beach Cardinals.
It wasn't until his previous start that Heaney did struggle. He labored through three innings, yielding two earned runs on four hits against the Bradenton Marauders.
6. Derek Dietrich, 2B
2013 stats: .232 BA, 4 HR, 12 RBI, .298 OBP, .411 SLG, .709 OPS with Miami Marlins; .282 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI, .408 OBP, .505 SLG, .913 OPS with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Analysis: Is Derek Dietrich the guy who hit .400 (8-for-20) with a home run and four RBI in his first five big league games, or the guy who is hitting .187 (14-for-75) since then with three homers and eight RBI in the No. 3 hole?
Regardless of the answer, it seems as though the Marlins have been impressed with Dietrich's performance to the point where the Marlins have discussed experimenting playing Dietrich at third base. Moreover, Donovan Solano, who allowed Dietrich to be called up when he went on the disabled list May 7 with a left intercostal strain, has played third base in one of his two rehab games. Solano could be activated off the DL as early as Monday, so what the Marlins do with Dietrich will be worth keeping an eye on.
By the way, Dietrich is still considered a prospect because he hadn't surpassed the 130 at-bats to become eligible for the NL ROY. So if the Marlins send him back to the minors, which is a possibility, then he's still considered a prospect.
7. Matt Krook, LHP
2013 stats: 2-1, 1.65 ERA, 32 BB, 85 SO, 59 1/3 IP with St. Ignatius (Calif.) High School
Analysis: Taken with the 35th overall pick, the Marlins might have found a gem.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-hander has a four-pitch arsenal (fastball, changeup, curveball and slider) but his most lethal pitch might be the "nasty curveball," as MLB analyst Harold Reynolds termed it. Krook has also committed to the University of Oregon, but there's a good chance he might never play college baseball. The slot allotment for the No. 35 pick is $1,587,700.
"I love Oregon, I love the coaches up there," Krook told MLB.com. "But I think at this point I'm ready to play pro ball. I just want to get my career started."
8. Adam Conley, LHP
2013 stats: 5-2, 4.10 ERA, 14 BB, 56 SO, 59 1/3 IP with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Who is the best left-hander in the Marlins minor league system?
Analysis: Conley is the fourth southpaw on the list, but he's no slouch.
The former Washington State closer has picked it up in his last seven starts, going 5-1 with a 3.52 ERA while yielding just seven walks and accumulating 34 strikeouts.
“I don’t think you ever could get enough left-handed pitching," Meek told the Miami Herald. "You can stop the running game. You don’t have to have quite the same stuff to get outs. Left-handed pitching is always a premium in any draft. We try to grab one or two in every draft.”
9. Zack Cox, 3B
2013 stats: .318 BA, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .423 OBP, .391 SLG, .814 OPS with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Analysis: After struggling to a .254 batting average last season, Cox has bounced back with a solid 2013 campaign thus far.
However, the worst thing that could've happen to Cox was the Marlins drafting Moran because they both play the same position and neither are considered power hitters. In other words, Cox and Moran are redundant unless one makes a position switch.
10. Colby Suggs, RHP
2013 stats: 0-0, 1.74 ERA, 13 saves, 17 BB, 29 SO, 20 2/3 IP with Arkansas Razorbacks
Analysis: Of the Marlins 2013 Day 1 draft picks, Suggs might make it to the majors the quickest.
The hard-throwing right-handed reliever possesses a 94 mph fastball with a power curveball at 78-80 mph with hard downward break. However, Suggs also has bouts of wildness at times.
“Real aggressive, kind of in the Jason Motte mold from the Cardinals," Meek told the Bradenton Herald. "Just a bull of a kid. Six-foot, strong, durable and aggressive.”
11. Jose Urena, RHP
2013 stats: 6-2, 4.37 ERA, 12 BB, 44 SO, 59 2/3 IP with Jupiter Hammerheads (Advanced Single-A)
Analysis: Slowly but surely, Urena has climbed up the organization's minor league system. That said, he needs to be more consistent to make the next step.
The 21-year-old has been awesome at home with a 3-0 record and a 1.86 ERA in five home starts. But on the road, Urena is 3-2 with a 6.75 ERA in seven appearances.
12. Trevor Williams, RHP
2013 stats: 6-6, 4.12 ERA, 26 BB, 81 SO, 111 1/3 IP with Arizona State Sun Devils
Who, from the 2013 draft class, will make it to the majors the fastest?
Analysis: Will the real Trevor Williams please stand up?
The Marlins drafted the Arizona State product in the second round Thursday after Williams had a mediocre 2013 season as the staff ace. But in 2012, the sinkerballer was 12-2 as the No. 2 starter with a 2.05 ERA and made All-America second team.
“We think we can get him back to where he was,” Meek told the Miami Herald. “I saw him back in March, and [he] threw the ball very well up to 96, even after [the] fifth inning. He throws a lot of strikes and is a very good competitor for them, been their main guy. He’s got a real durable body, starter body we think.”
13. J.T. Realmuto, C
2013 stats: .222, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .286 OBP, .322 SLG, .608 OPS with Jacksonville Suns (AA)
Analysis: The Marlins top catching prospect seems to struggle to learn the ropes as he goes up the minor league chain.
A converted high school shortstop, Realmuto hit .287 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI in Single-A Greensboro two years ago. Last season, Realmuto batted a respectable .256 with eight home runs and 46 RBI at advanced Single-A Jupiter.
The good news is Rob Brantly and Kyle Skipworth, with the Marlins and Triple-A New Orleans, respectively, haven't exactly lit the world on fire either.
14. Austin Brice, RHP
2013 stats: 3-6, 6.85 ERA, 42 BB, 34 SO, 43 1/3 IP with Greensboro Grasshoppers (A)
Analysis: Brice is repeating Single-A Greensboro, which is OK since he's in his age-21 season.
However, unlike rookie league ball, Brice has failed to improve in his second try at the same level. A year after going 8-6 with a 4.35 ERA, Brice has already matched the number of losses from 2012 and has given up more than two more runs per game.
Brice has struggled to the point where his last two appearances have come out of the bullpen after making nine consecutive starts to begin the year.
15. Avery Romero, INF
2013 stats: N/A
Analysis: The only Marlins prospect on this list to have yet to play a game this season, but with good reason.
Romero was assigned to the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League (short-season Class A). His season will begin June 17. Romero hit .246 with three home runs and 19 RBI in 40 minor league games last season.