The Heartbeats of the Future: 10 Young Marlins Key To Postseason Return
In 2012, the Florida Marlins will move into a new ballpark in downtown Miami and will be renamed the Miami Marlins with an all new logo, color scheme, and young nucleus.
Most of their stars will be 30-years-old or younger, and I will highlight that here. Certainly, they have one of the most talented nucleus of players in the Major Leagues, and there is no telling what they can do once they move into a new environment, a true baseball stadium with the top players in the game.
When the Marlins move into their new stadium they will have a 28-year-old ace (and perhaps, Cy Young pitcher) at the top of their rotation. In 2010, Josh Johnson has emerged as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and promises to be the anchor of a postseason team.
Currently, Josh Johnson is 32-10 since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2007, and career wise is 44-20 with an eye popping 3.02 ERA, which are all the makings of a potential Hall of Fame pitcher.
Outlook: Marlins starting ace pitcher, figures to be Opening Day starter for the next few seasons.
Ask any baseball mind out there and they will tell you that Hanley Ramirez is a Top 10, even a Top five player in baseball. Even Ken Griffey Jr. went far enough to say he would start a franchise with Hanley Ramirez. He is the essential five-tool player that teams need to kick start a franchise like he did when he arrived with the Marlins in 2006. "Market Correction".
Hanley Ramirez is a legitimate 30-30 guy every season, having done it once in 2008 and coming close in 2007. Throughout his career he has 117 HRs and 185 stolen bases. He has the talent to be a Hall of Famer as a shortstop with quite possibly 300+ HRs and 300+ stolen bases with a career .300 or more batting average if he keeps it up.
Outlook: Currently the Florida Marlins everyday shortstop.
Scouts compare him to Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, but I believe Michael Stanton is a right-handed version of Ryan Howard with speed. Stanton is going to generate more power than Winfield did in his first few seasons. Winfield never broke 40 HR and Stanton has the ability to do so.
It's hard to see him drive in 130 or 140 runs a season versus Howard in Citizens Bank Park and Stanton going into what figures to be a pitchers park in his new home in 2012, but he profiles to be the Marlins cleanup hitter by 2012.
If Stanton had started with the Marlins at the beginning of the season, he would be on a pace for 33 HRs and 110 RBIs, but have over 200 strikeouts which is something he must improve on. Stanton might also figure to steal 10 bases a season.
Outlook: Michael Stanton will be the Marlins right fielder for the foreseeable future.
Gaby Sanchez has been one of the better players on the Marlins this season and promises to be for many more. He beat fellow teammate Logan Morrison for the job and is now the teams primary first baseman.
Sanchez is a top candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors (next to Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Ike Davis, and Jaime Garcia). He compares a bit to another former Marlin first baseman who came up with the Fish, Derrek Lee. Perhaps with a bit less power but with the ability to deliver in the clutch, having one of the best averages in close and late game situations in the National League.
Outlook: Gaby Sanchez figures to man first base for the time being for the Marlins.
Cameron Maybin has been with the Marlins since 2008 and has been given his chances to succeed, yet he is only 23. Maybin has lost his starting job twice (2009 and 2010) but has had his bright spots.
In 2008, when he came up, Maybin hit .500 (16 for 32) in eight September games, stealing four bases and driving in a couple of runs. Since then however, he has only stolen seven bases in 103 games, so the speed has gone down.
On a major league level, Maybin figures to be the right-handed version of Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, since both have a knack for striking out and being seldom base stealers (although both have the speed to steal 50 plus). Remember, Granderson began playing on an everyday basis as a 24-year-old and Maybin still has a year to go.
Outlook: Cameron Maybin figures to be the Marlins permanent center field option in 2011 if the Marlins do not tender Cody Ross.
Chris Coghlan won Rookie of the Year honors in 2009 by hitting .321 in 128 games for the Marlins and becoming the primary lead off hitter and spark plug. He will probably be best remembered as the player who smacked Wes Helms with a shaving cream pie only to tear his meniscus in his knee and face rehab.
But hey, that's a sophomore slump/curse, Coghlan has hit only .268 this season but has picked up the stolen bases (10 in 91 games versus 8 last season).
Outlook:Coghlan will be vital to the Marlins plans moving forward. He currently figures to be the Marlins future third baseman after playing mostly left field before the injury. Coghlan played third base at University of Mississippi and shouldn't have a problem playing there. Coghlan could also slip to second base if the Marlins do not retain Dan Uggla.
Logan Morrison profiles as a Mark Grace 2.0 as a big league player. Morrison has great plate discipline (walking more than he strikes out), a .300 batting average with the potential to hit 20-25 HRs and drive in 80-90 runs in a season. Morrison hits lefties and righties the same.
Morrison figures to be the Marlins left fielder of the future with current first baseman Gaby Sanchez fixed at first. He might be just what the Marlins need in their lineup, which is a non-free swinger who doesn't strikeout 100 times a season but can put the ball in play.
Outlook: Current and future left fielder of the Marlins.
Kyle Skipworth is the Marlins catcher of the future. He was drafted in the 1st round (6th overall) in the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft. He had drawn comparisons to Joe Mauer due to his lefty bat, athleticism, and frame, but thus far that has not been the case, primarily because of his plate discipline (251 strikeouts versus 58 walks) and his poor batting average.
He has seemed to have discovered his power with 16 HRs in Low Class A Greensboro in 88 games versus seven HRs in 70 games last season. Furthermore, Skipworth figures to stop would-be base stealers, having caught 39 percent of them this season.
Outlook: He might be big-league ready come 2012 if he progresses well in 2011. He might platoon starting off and could find himself as a starter in 2013 if all goes well.
Sean West figures to be in the Marlins' rotation again fairly soon, after a 2009 stint of 20 games. In those 20 games, West had a solid 8-6 record and an ERA of 4.79. The bonus is that he is left-handed and the Marlins current rotation lacks it without him moving forward.
Recently, they released struggling veteran lefty Nate Robertson, demoted Andrew Miller to improve his control, and trade troubled left-hander Scott Olsen.
This season with (AAA) New Orleans Zephyrs, he has a 4-3 record with a 3.12 ERA in 11 starts. He has also pitched a pair of complete games including a shutout. He will be key in a division that has Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Ike Davis, and Adam Dunn to name a few.
Outlook:Middle of the rotation starter for the Florida Marlins in the near future.
Moving forward, Matt Dominguez has a couple of things going against him. First off, Chris Coghlan, the former left-fielder, figures to slide into third base for the foreseeable future, and the other is Dominguez's bat hasn't been hot enough to warrant consideration for a call-up.
Dominguez did have a great 2008 campaign in Low Class A Greensboro with a .296 batting average, 18 HRs and 70 RBIs in a mere 88 games. Since then, that bat has cooled off having hit 23 HRs in 238 games between high class A Jupiter and AA Jacksonville.
Outlook:Defensively, he is major-league ready, but lets not forget Dominguez is only 20 years of age. Most major-leaguers are ready by the age of 23-24. He might stay in the minor leagues for a couple more years for more seasoning while the Marlins keep Dan Uggla at second. A scenario could be that once Uggla is out of the picture, Chris Coghlan slides over to second base, his original position, while Dominguez moves over to third base.
Dominguez figures to be up by 2012 and perhaps be a full-time starter in 2013, that's depending on Dan Uggla's situation with the Marlins.
Honorable Mention: Pitchers- Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Chad James, Brad Hand, Leo Nunez; Hitters- Christian Yelich, Osvaldo Martinez, Emilio Bonifacio.
[Note:Young meaning 29 years or younger within the next two years]