Miami Marlins' Top 10 Prospects for 2014
Fernandez ranked among the major league leaders in numerous statistical categories, including first in opponents’ batting average (.182) and hits allowed per nine innings (5.8 H/9), fourth in WHIP (0.98) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.75 K/9). Fernandez’s 2.19 ERA was the second-best mark in the major leagues as well as the lowest by a rookie starter in either league since 1970.
On the other side of the ball, Christian Yelich, 22, emerged as one of the best young hitters in the game following a call-up in late July, as the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter posted a .288/.370/.396 batting line and 116 wRC+ in 273 plate appearances, per FanGraphs.
Down on the farm, the Marlins have one of the deepest collections of left-handed pitching prospects in baseball, with four young hurlers who have already experienced success at or above the Double-A level. While top prospect Andrew Heaney has the realistic upside of a No. 3 starter, the team’s other southpaws—Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley and Brian Flynn—are better-suited for a role in the back of a rotation.
The system didn’t have a lot of power to begin with before the graduation of Yelich to the major leagues. So, replacing Yelich as the team’s top position prospect on this year’s list is fellow outfielder Jake Marisnick, who was rushed from Double-A to the major leagues last season, where he struggled to control the speed of the game. However, 2013 first-round pick (No. 6 overall) Colin Moran isn't far behind Marisnick, and he's the safe bet to rank as the organization's top position prospect at this time next year.
One prospect to keep an eye on in 2014 is catcher J.T. Realmuto. The 2010 third-round draft pick is an excellent athlete with the catch-and-throw skills to at least serve as a major league backup at maturity, and his bat-to-ball ability and contact rates suggest the bat could be a late-bloomer.
Here’s a look at the Miami Marlins’ top 10 prospects for the 2014 season.
10. Avery Romero, 2B
DOB: 05/11/1993 (Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 195 pounds
Drafted: Third round, 2012 (Pedro Menendez HS, Fla.)
Avery Romero’s 5’11”, 195-pound frame doesn’t require much physical projection; mature bat; advanced approach for a prep draft pick; right-handed batter’s swing is short and compact; effortlessly drives the ball; good gap power; could grow into some over-the-fence pop; hit tool is carrying tool and has above-average potential.
Hard worker capable of playing multiple infield positions; lacks speed but isn’t slow; 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.
Projection: Second-division second baseman
Video courtesy of Baseball America
9. Brian Flynn, LHP
DOB: 04/19/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’8”, 240 pounds
Drafted: Seventh round, 2011 by Detroit Tigers (Wichita State)
ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)
The 6’8” left-hander uses his height to work on a consistent downhill plane; adjustment to delivery and mechanics last season improved his control and command; lacks a true plus offering; fastball works in the 88-93 mph range, and he can reach back for a little extra when needed; average slider serves as his best secondary offering; curveball has big shape and slow pace; used to offer opposing hitters a different look; consistent feel for changeup improves its effectiveness; turns it over well; back-end command profile.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter
8. Jose Urena, RHP
DOB: 09/12/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 175 pounds
Signed: 2008 (Dominican Republic)
ETA: Late 2015
Excellent athlete with a projectable 6’3”, 175-pound frame; some deceptiveness in delivery; loose, effortless arm strength; consistent strike thrower with fastball; sits at 92-94 mph with late life and can scrape 96-97; good feel for adding and subtracting and reading hitters’ swings; changeup is an above-average pitch with splitter-like diving action; sells with arm action; slider is fringe-average and lacks consistentancy; good shape and pace at times; lacks a feel for sequencing; some concern about his long-term durability; secondary stuff needs refinement.
Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter; late-inning reliever
Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct
7. J.T. Realmuto, C
DOB: 03/18/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205 pounds
Drafted: Third round, 2010 (Carl Albert HS, Okla.)
Excellent athlete who played multiple positions in high school; converted to a catcher upon selection in 2010 draft; has the hand-eye coordination, strength and natural talent to hit for both average and power; wraps bat and bars front arm; swing has too much length; casts hands around too many pitches; swing often lacks fluidity and rhythm; above-average raw power, but its 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 have developed with experience; footwork and blocking continue to improve.
Projection: Backup/reserve catcher
6. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
DOB: 04/18/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195 pounds
Drafted: Sixth round, 2011 by Toronto Blue Jays (Florida)
ETA: Late 2014
Anthony DeSclafani has a strong, durable 6’2”, 195-pound frame; fierce competitor with good control and command; throws everything with conviction; fastball jumps on opposing hitters at 90-93 mph, and he’ll reach back for 94-95 on occasion; pounds the strike zone; feel for locating the pitch to both sides of the plate; throws above-average slider with velocity and tight spin to create a sharp, late break; curve is fringy and serves as a show-me offering; average changeup has good fade to the arm side; solid command of three pitches lends to his projection as a back-end starter.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter; late-inning reliever
Video courtesy of BullpenBanter.com
5. Adam Conley, LHP
DOB: 05/24/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 185 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2011 (Washington State)
ETA: Late 2014
Projectable 6’3”, 185-pound frame with present strength; deceptive and complicated delivery; loose arm action with good natural arm strength; fastball sits 88-92 mph with hard tailing action; difficult to command; slider has its moments, thrown with depth and good arm speed; fringy command; potential to be a better-than-average offering at maturity; changeup shows plus potential with fastball-like arm speed; turns in over to create excellent fade; effective pitch against right-handed batters; good control, but command needs refinement.
Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter
4. Justin Nicolino, LHP
DOB: 11/22/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 160 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2010 by Blue Jays (University HS, Fla.)
ETA: Late 2014
Projectable 6’3”, 160-pound frame with room to grow; exceptional at repeating his mechanics; can make it look easy; always balanced; requires minimal effort; minor cross-body delivery creates deception; advanced feel for sequencing pitches; has a feel for when to add/subtract; high-floor, mid-rotation upside.
Fastball sits at 88-92 mph; commands it to both sides of the plate; challenges hitters from both sides; changeup is a plus offering and easily his best pitch; thrown with deceptive arm speed relative to fastball; 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 and hangs; confident demeanor; uses entire arsenal efficiently; keeps hitters off balance.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter
Video courtesy of Baseball Instinct
3. Colin Moran, 3B
DOB: 10/01/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2013 (North Carolina)
Moran possesses arguably the most advanced bat and plate discipline of all 2013 draftees; physically strong left-handed hitter at 6’3”, 190 pounds; effortless and fluid swing but not visually pleasing; creates excellent plane with the bat head through zone, which allows him to see the ball deep and drive it to all fields; knack for barreling the ball and making hard contact; outstanding and mature plate discipline should help his hit tool reach potential; deep load of the hands could make him susceptible to velocity at the next level; controls the strike zone better than any other amateur hitter; rarely expands the zone or chases; advanced pitch recognition will always result in lots of walks and a favorable on-base percentage.
Lacks the raw power and power frequency usually associated with a corner infielder of his size and draft status; showcased decent pop upon turning pro but still projects to be only slightly above-average; utilizes mostly an upper-body and handsy swing; sturdy but not powerful lower half; some concern about his ability to hit with wood; could begin to tap into his raw power by driving more balls to the pull side.
Below-average runner; smart baserunner; will be in greater danger of having to move from the position if he loses a step; defense at third base can be divisive; moderate quickness and fringy speed give him average range at best; has good instincts but first step can be slow; can get caught on his heels on occasion; always makes the play on anything within reach; showcases soft hands and reliable glove; smooth transfer and release; arm is strongest defensive tool and helps compensate for lack of range; clean and quick arm stroke yields plus velocity across the infield; enough arm strength for a corner outfield spot if he’s forced off the hot corner; over-the-top release aids his accuracy.
Projection: Second-division third baseman
2. Jake Marisnick, OF
DOB: 03/30/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 225 pounds
Drafted: Third round, 2009 (Riverside Poly HS, Calif.)
ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)
Right-handed hitter possesses a highly projectable frame with present strength at 6’3”, 225 pounds; ridiculous athlete; passes the eye test with flying colors; raw ability suggests potential for above-average hit and power tool; streaky hitter; lanky frame and upright setup create too much movement during swing; can fall into bad habit of employing the same swing and bat path regardless of pitch type, location and count; less weak contact and whiffs this season; bat path can be long; collapses backside in an effort to meet the ball and force contact; pitch recognition and plate discipline steadily improving; plus speed and base-stealing aptitude give him legitimate 20-20 potential.
Has the speed and actions to remain in center field; plus range in all directions aided by natural instincts; glides to cover large distances; graceful actions; plus arm can play at all three outfield positions, more than enough for center; position will ultimately be tied to his offensive production; has been aggressively ushered up the ladder with both organizations; athleticism and tools give him a high ceiling despite previous struggles.
Projection: Second-division center fielder
1. Andrew Heaney, LHP
DOB: 06/05/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 190 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2012 (Oklahoma State)
Projectable 6’2”, 190-pound frame; athletic build with long limbs; smooth delivery requires minimum effort; loose, whippy arm; present pitchability; suffered an oblique strain this season and will need to put meat on his bones to avoid future injuries.
Boasts a three-pitch mix of average-to-plus pitches; plus fastball works in the low to mid-90s with late life; has touched mid-90s more consistently since returning from injury; breaking ball is at least above-average and a legitimate swing-and-miss offering; has demonstrated more consistent feel for pitch this season; less slurvy than it was at Oklahoma St.; changeup is average and continues to improve; effective against right-handed hitters; advanced feel for entire arsenal could have him in the major leagues quickly.
Projection: No. 3 starter