The Marlins have always had talent at the minor league level, and this year is no exception. The top 10 is filled with offensive talent along with a couple of strong-armed pitchers. At midseason, here are, in my opinion, the top-10 prospects in the Marlins' system.
1. Cameron Maybin OF (AAA)
Coming into the season, 22-year-old Maybin was expected to be the starting CF for the Marlins. That changed 26 games into the season when Maybin was demoted to AAA after hitting just .202 with only 1 HR and 31 K.
Throughout his pro career, Maybin's problem has been inconsistency, and by sending Maybin down, the Marlins are hoping that consistency can be taught.
Maybin has been excelling in AAA: .340/.420/.491 with 3 HR and 23 RBI. His K/BB ratio in New Orleans is 40/27 as opposed to the 31/8 ratio he put up with the Marlins during the beginning of the season.
In all, Maybin has some minor flaws that could easily be coached out of him. He won't win any batting titles at the next level, but don’t be surprised if this kid can put up a couple 30/30 seasons.
ETA-Second Half 2009
2. Michael Stanton OF (AA)
This 19-year old has people excited throughout the Marlins' front office.
He was actually recruited as a TE to play football by USC, but instead, he decided to sign with the Marlins.
He has incredible raw power, which can be seen in the 39 home runs he hit last year while playing for Low Class-A Greensboro. That was as an 18-year-old. He is 6'5" 205 lbs.; since he is young, he could still add more muscle.
He has a great arm and can cover a wide area in RF due to his long running strides. Actually, Stanton left quite an impression on Peter Gammons, and if you "Google" Michael Stanton, Gammons' report is actually within the top-five hits.
Florida's coaches have also raved about Stanton's hitting intelligence, which you rarely see in a power hitter.
Stanton started off the year in high-A Jupiter before he was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville.
In 143 at bats, Stanton has put up a line of .245/.333/.455 with 7 HR and 20 RBI. These numbers aren't impressive by any means, but you must remember that Stanton is just 19; he still learning how to hit.
Stanton is an elite prospect in the Marlins' system and will most likely be fast tracked to the bigs. He could spend some time in AA next year before being promoted to Triple-A New Orleans.
Scouts project Stanton to hit 40+ HR in the major leagues.
Stanton played in the Futures Game during All-Star weekend in St. Louis. He should be a staple in the Marlins' lineup when they open up their new stadium in 2012.
ETA-Late 2010/2011 season
3. Matt Dominguez 3B (A)
The Marlins selected 20-year-old Domingeuz with the 12th pick in the 2007 draft.
He has good power to all parts of the field and loves to drive balls into the gaps.
He struggled in the Gulf Coast League and low-A in his first pro season, to which scouts weren't really concerned.
Last year, he put together some superb numbers at the plate. This being after he sat out a few weeks due to mononucleosis. Dominguez hit .296/.354/.499 while hitting 18 HR and with 70 RBI. He struck out 68 times and drew 28 walks.
This season, Dominguez has played for high-A Jupiter. His current line is .254/.323/.404 with 10 HR and 47 RBI. His drop in average is expected since Jupiter plays in the Florida State League which is has been known as a pitcher's league.
He currently hits plenty of doubles to that gap, but as his body matures, those doubles should turn into home runs.
Scouts expect Dominguez to develop better plate discipline, which remains to be seen. He currently has a major league-ready glove at third base and an accurate arm.
Scouts have compared Dominguez to former Marlin Mike Lowell, Eric Chavez, and Ryan Zimmerman.
4. Logan Morrison 1B (AA)
This 21-year-old power hitting left-handed 1B has made huge strides since being drafted in the22nd round by the Florida Marlins in 2005. After disappointing performances in the Gulf Coast League and low-A Morrison, he turned it on and hit the lights out in Single-A Jupiter.
He spent all of last year in Jupiter where he hit .331/.401/.494 with 13 HR and 74 RBI. In that season, he struck out 80 times and walked 57 times—not bad for a power hitter.
Morrison started the 2009 season in Jupiter before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville were, in 132 at bats, he has hit .265/.426/.455 with 5 HR and 24 RBI. He has struck out 22 times and walked 37 times.
The Marlins' front office expects Morrison to hit for average and power once he reaches the bigs. He has an excellent work ethic as well.
5. Kyle Skipworth C (A)
The 6'3", 195-pound Skipworth was last year's Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year, as he hit .543 with 13 HR for Patriot High School in Riverside, California.
The Marlins took him 6th overall in the first round, and Skipworth signed early to get a chance to play in 43 games for the GCL Marlins. He hit just .192/.250/.331 with 5 HR and 20 RBI in those games. But, at the time, he was just a few months removed from high school.
He started off this year in single-A Greensboro where he is hitting .194/.248/.315 with 5 HR and 29 RBI. His problem has been striking out, as he averages about one per three at bats.
Scouts raved about Skipworth's skills behind the plate, and some said that he was the best defensive catcher in last year’s draft. He has a release time of 1.91 seconds to second base.
Skipworth has a smooth level swing with plenty of pop. He is and elite catching prospect who scouts believe should hit for both average and power once he reaches the big leagues.
6. Ryan Tucker RHP (AA)
Tucker was drafted by the Marlins in the first round back in 2005. He has reached the majors, but, like Maybin, was sent down to refine his skills.
Tucker has an excellent fastball that can reach into the mid-90's, but he has gotten in trouble with his off-speed stuff in the big leagues. He also needed some work with his command.
In 2007, Tucker pitched well at single-A Jupiter in which is posted a 3.71 ERA with a record of 5-8 and 107 K in 138.1 IP. He was promoted the following season to Double-A Carolina in 2008; there, he had a 1.58 ERA with a record of 5-3 and 74 K in 91 IP.
He was called up to start for the Marlins in June of 2008. In six starts, he went 2-3 with an 8.27 ERA, 28 K, and 23 BB in 37 IP. Tucker got in trouble with his off-speed command, leaving hitters to sit on his fastball. His numbers with the Marlins should be taken with a grain of salt due to these issues.
Tucker has since pitched in the GCL and AA this year, and he has done well, but he still continues to work out the kinks in his breaking ball which could leave him with an inflated ERA.
Scouts see Tucker as a long reliever or setup man, although he could start again for the Marlins.
7. Jose Ceda RHP (AA) DL
The Marlins acquired the 22-year-old flame-throwing Dominican this offseason in the deal that sent Kevin Gregg to the Cubs.
He has a fastball that can top out at 100 MPH, but it usually stays within the 96-98 range. He is 6'4" and weighs 260 pounds.
Ceda's problem will be watching his weight. When he was signed in 2004 by the Padres, Ceda was only 190 pounds, but back then, he only threw 88-91 MPH. He has since gained 70 pounds in four years.
Scouts compare him to Lee Smith and believe that once he reaches the big leagues, Ceda could be a closer or shutdown reliever.
To reach the majors, Ceda must get in better shape and take care of his shoulder, which has bothered him since he was a Cub. Ceda actually hasn't pitched since spring training due to shoulder problems.
With a stricter conditioning plan, he could realize his potential. Scouts see him as a guy who could close out games for the Marlins. If he can master another pitch, Ceda could become a great reliever with nasty stuff.
He has started in the past, but the Marlins will use him as a reliever unless something major happens.
Again, he needs to get his shoulder and weight problems under his belt, but he has a bright future.
ETA-Late 2010/Early 2011
8. John Raynor OF (AAA)
The Marlins drafted the 25 year-old in the ninth round of the 2006 Draft. Although his age might limit his time in the bigs, Raynor is still a great prospect.
He has superb speed and draws plenty of walks. His bat also has some pop. The only negatives are his age and his high strikeout totals.
After starting out in single-A Greensboro in 2007, Raynor has been promoted a level per year and currently plays in double-A New Orleans. Right now, he is hitting .252/.313/.338 with 3 HR and 20 RBI with 12 SB. Also, he has 25 walks and 83 strikeouts.
The stolen bases are slightly disappointing considering that in his two previous years, one in A and the other in AA, he had 102 SB. But Raynor's speed is still there.
Raynor projects as a utility outfielder or platoon player.
9. Gaby Sanchez 1B/3B (MLB)
Although he was recently called up to the bigs, Sanchez still ranks in my top 10. After many Marlins fans thought Sanchez would be the man at 1B, he was demoted the day before the season started to AAA.
The 25 year-old was drafted out of the University of Miami in the fourth round of the 2005 draft by the Marlins.
He was the 2007 Southern League MVP after batting .314/.404/.513 with 14 HR and 92 RBI. This performance earned him a call-up in September of that year to the Marlins, where he had three hits in eight at bats. Two of his three hits were doubles.
Before being called up this year, he was hitting .284/.350/.440 with 9 HR and 39 RBI in AAA.
Sanchez has great speed for being 6'2", 220 pounds. Scouts have also noted that he has a strong work ethic and displays improving plate discipline.
He is projected as a platoon 1B/3B type.
10. Isaac Galloway OF (A)
Galloway is a five-tool prospect who was drafted in the eight round of the 2008 draft. He dropped considerably due to signability issues and a poor senior season.
Galloway can hit for power, especially towards left field, and has displayed that he can hit for contact to all fields as well. He is also projected to steal 15-20 bases per year, and his speed rates out as above average.
Galloway is an excellent CF with a good arm. He takes good routes to fly balls as well. Some scouts expect him to move to the corner outfield when he reaches the next level.
In the Gulf Coast League last year he hit .286/.303/.417 with 1 HR in 199 AB. He struggled with his plate discipline, but that was to be expected from the then 18-year-old Galloway.
He currently is playing for single-A Greensboro and hitting .275/.304/402 with 2 HR, 15 RBI, and 11 SB.
Scouts believe that he can be a 20/20 guy in the future, and while his ceiling isn't as high as five-toolers in other team's system, he still has good projectability.