Miami Marlins' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2015

Miami Marlins' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Few teams have been as busy this offseason as the Miami Marlins.

    The decision to extend Giancarlo Stanton with a historic 13-year, $325 million contract thrust the Marlins into win-now mode, and it wasn’t long before the club began to aggressively retool its big league roster around the 25-year-old slugger.

    However, building a strong supporting cast around Stanton meant blowing up the farm system, and so the Marlins were forced to part with top prospects.

    First, they traded left-hander Andrew Heaney, the organization’s first-round draft pick in 2012, along with Enrique Hernandez and two other players to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon. One day later, they shipped right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to the Reds in a deal for Mat Latos.

    Heaney, Hernandez and DeSclafani each debuted in the major leagues in 2014, meaning that the Marlins would have had them under team control for five or six years. Meanwhile, their respective departures have left Miami with few options down on the farm.

    Flame-throwing right-hander Tyler Kolek, whom the Marlins selected with the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, has the highest ceiling in the organization and headlines a prospect pool that’s top-heavy with pitching.

    Lefty Justin Nicolino’s plus command and advanced pitchability should help him reach the major leagues in 2015, and right-handers Jose Urena and Trevor Williams shouldn’t be far behind.

    Second baseman Avery Romero has done nothing but rake as a professional, batting .320 between both Class-A levels, while 2014 draft pick Brian Anderson gives them additional depth at the position. Meanwhile, catcher J.T. Realmuto had the breakout campaign that seemed inevitable and also fared well during a brief audition in the major leagues, and he seems poised to carve out a more important role with the Marlins in 2015.

    Here are the Miami Marlins’ top 10 prospects for the 2015 season.

How They're Ranked

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Position Players

    • Body type/athleticism
    • Speed
    • Hitting mechanics, bat speed
    • Injury history
    • Statistical trends
    • Age vs. level: how well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition
    • Tools: number of projectable tools a player possesses in relation to his position, age and competition; present vs. future tool grades
    • Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool is the most importantbut also the hardest to project
    • League and park factors
    • On-base skills: approach; strike-zone management; pitch recognition
    • Makeup/character
    • Defensive tools and skill sets; present vs. projected position
    • Place on organization's depth chart
    • Positional scarcity; up-the-middle potential 


    • Body type/athleticism/strength
    • Mechanics: delivery; arm speed; release point
    • Age vs. highest level of experience
    • Injury history (durability)
    • Statistical trends
    • Arsenal quality and depth
    • Pitch projections: present vs. future grades
    • Hitability: How tough is he to barrel? Does he keep the ball on the ground/in the park?
    • Control/command: Is he usually around the zone? Does he effectively command his stuff? How much development/refinement is needed?
    • Pitchability: feel (and confidence) for using and sequencing entire arsenal.
    • Approach: Does he fearlessly attack and challenge opposing hitters?  
    • Projection: Does he project as a starter? If so, what type? Or is he likely to be relegated to the bullpen? If so, why?


Close Calls

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    LHP Adam Conley
    LHP Adam ConleyCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Adam Conley, LHP

    Michael Mader, LHP

    Austin Dean, OF

10. Nick Wittgren, RHP

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 05/29/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Ninth round, 2012 (Purdue)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2015

    2014 Stats (AA): 52 G, 20 SV, 66 IP, 3.55 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, .281 BAA, 0.8 HR/9, 1.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    Wittgren saved 20 games at Double-A last season, but he was also challenged by opposing hitters for the first time as a professional, evidenced by his 73 hits allowed (six home runs) over 66 innings.

    Given his effectiveness in a late-inning role, one would assume that Wittgren boasts overpowering stuff. However, that’s not the case; the 6’2”, 215-pound right-hander’s fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s. However, he does miss his share of bats with the pitch, as the deception in his delivery makes it sneak up on opposing hitters.

    Wittgren supplements his heater with a power breaking ball that registers in the 76-81 mph range, and he’s become increasingly comfortable mixing in his average changeup, especially versus left-handed batters.

    Ceiling (Overall Future Potential): 50 (Setup man)

9. Jarlin Garcia, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 01/18/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 170 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Signed: 2010 (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year's Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2017

    2014 Stats (A): 25 GS, 133.2 IP, 4.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .286 BAA, 0.9 HR/9, 1.4 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    Signed out of the Dominican Republic in August 2010, Garcia’s plus control translated this year in his full-season debut, but his lack of command resulted in him getting knocked around at times by South Atlantic League hitters.

    At 6’2” and 170 pounds, Garcia has an athletic and projectable frame to go along with a loose arm and smooth delivery. His fastball works consistently in the low 90s and features good sinking action, but the pitch will also flatten out and play light to the plate when left up in the zone.

    Garcia’s curveball has above-average potential at maturity and represents his best secondary offering, as he already shows a feel for adding and subtracting and doesn’t shy away from throwing it in any count.

    He has a tendency to be predictable with his fastball-curveball combination, which makes his ongoing development of a changeup all the more important. If the pitch, which he throws in the 83-85 mph range, can serve as at least an average offering, then Garcia, who projects to have average command, should have the chance to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter/late-inning reliever)

8. Kendry Flores, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 11/24/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 175 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2009 by Giants (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR (Giants)

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats (A+): 20 GS, 105.2 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .249 BAA, 1.2 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 9.5 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades:


    Scouting Report

    Flores spent the entire 2014 season pitching in the hitter-friendly California League, missing more than a bat per inning while maintaining his trademark command. However, the Giants dealt Flores to the Marlins earlier in the offseason as part of a deal for Casey McGehee.

    The 23-year-old right-hander’s has four pitches that grade out as either average or solid average, including a 90-94 mph fastball, but his plus command profile helps his entire arsenal play up.

    Flores’ lack of a plus pitch means he’s probably limited to a back-of-the-rotation role, although his strike-throwing ability could also make him valuable as a long or middle reliever.

    Ceiling (OFP): 50 (No. 4 or 5 starter/middle reliever)

7. Brian Anderson, 2B/3B

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    Position: 2B/3B

    DOB: 05/19/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 175 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Third round, 2014 (Arkansas)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2017

    2014 Stats (SS/A): 59 G, 257 PA, .300/.363/.496, 31.9 XBH%, 11 HR, 7.4 BB%, 15.2 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):


    Scouting Report

    Anderson hit the ground running following his selection in the third round of the 2014 draft, hitting for both average and power while reaching the Low-A level in his professional debut. 

    Anderson is not the most physical player, but the Arkansas alum generates above-average bat speed and makes loud contact. However, his swing is also unpolished and has too much noise, which creates a below-average bat path and prevents him from properly utilizing his bat speed. 

    The 21-year-old’s swing is pretty flat, geared more toward hitting line drives into the gaps than hitting the ball over the fence, though he does have enough strength in his wrists to go along with the bat speed to offer average power at maturity.

    Anderson is a good athlete with average speed, as he runs well down the line and has enough range on defense to profile at several different positions. He played all over the field at Arkansas, starting at third base and then moving to the outfield, but second base has become his home in pro ball. At the keystone, Anderson has good hands and shows range to both sides, but he doesn’t project to be more than an average defender.

    Ceiling (OFP): 50 (average major leaguer) - High risk

6. Jose Urena, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 09/12/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 195 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2008 (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 8

    ETA: 2015

    2014 Stats (AA): 26 G/25 GS, 162 IP, 3.33 EA, 1.14 WHIP, .255 BAA, 0.8 HR/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.7 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    Urena continued his steady climb toward the major leagues in 2014 with a strong showing in Double-A, as he walked 29 batters for the fourth straight year and established career highs in innings pitched (162) and strikeouts (121).

    An excellent athlete with a projectable 6’2”, 195-pound frame, Urena has some deceptiveness to his delivery to go along with loose, effortless arm strength. He’s a consistent strike-thrower with his fastball, which sits at 92-94 mph with late life and scrapes 95-96. The right-hander’s changeup flashes plus with splitter-like diving action, and he sells it well with his natural arm action.

    Urena’s slider is currently fringe average and hurts his projection as a starter, as it would be difficult for him to work through a big league lineup multiple times with only two viable pitches. The safe bet is that Urena ends up in the bullpen, though the Marlins will continue to give him every opportunity to carve out a role as a starter.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter/late-inning reliever)

5. Justin Nicolino, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 11/22/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 190 lbs

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: Second round, 2010 by Toronto (University HS, Fla.)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 4

    ETA: 2015

    2014 Stats (AA): 28 GS, 170.1 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .249 BAA, 0.5 HR/9, 1.1 BB/9, 4.3 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    Nicolino returned to Double-A in 2014 and took the Southern League by storm, pacing all qualified starters in wins (14), ERA (2.85), WHIP (1.07) and innings pitched (170.1).

    The 23-year-old left-hander projects as a back-end starter with advanced pitchability and plus command profile, though there is some concern that his lack of an out pitch will catch up to him at higher levels.

    Nicolino’s fastball registers in the 88-92 mph range, and he commands it to both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to attack hitters under the hands. His changeup is a legitimate plus offering, thrown with deceptive arm speed relative to fastball and late fading action out of the zone, and he’s comfortable using it in any count. Nicolino also mixes in a curveball that flashes solid average, though it gets too loopy at times and hangs up in the zone.

    Nicolino may not have overpowering stuff, but there’s something to be said for his ability to keep hitters off balance using a combination of command and sequencing.

    Ceiling (OFP): 50 (No. 4 starter) – Low risk

4. Trevor Williams, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 04/24/1992 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 228 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Arizona State)

    Last Year’s Ranking:

    ETA: Late 2015

    2014 Stats (A+/AA): 26 GS, 144 IP, 3.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .284 BAA, 0.3 HR/9, 2.2 BB/9, 6.5 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    A 6’3”, 228-pound right-hander, Williams throws a two-seam fastball in the 90-93 mph range with late sinking action and will dial up his four-seamer to 94-95 mph on occasion. He commands his heater(s) to both sides of the plate, using it to attack both right- and left-handed hitters, and he shows a good feel for locating down in the zone.

    Williams’ curveball is his least advanced offering, as its loopy shape and slow pace allows hitters too much time to adjust, though it could play up to average thanks to the strength of his entire arsenal. The right-hander’s slider flashes solid-average potential, thrown in the 83-85 mph range, with some depth and good slicing action to the glove side.

    Lastly, Williams masks his 77-80 mph changeup with fastball-like arm action, and he consistently turns the pitch over to produce late fade to his arm side.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter)

3. Avery Romero, 2B

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    Position: 2B

    DOB: 05/11/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 5’8”, 190 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    Last Year’s Ranking: 10

    ETA: 2017

    2014 Stats (A/A+): 118 G, 507 PA, .320/.367/.423, 24.8 XBH%, 5 HR, 10 SB, 6.3 BB%, 11.8 K%

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades)


    Scouting Report

    Romero continued to hit his way up the organizational ladder in 2014, combining to bat .320 with 31 doubles between both Class-A levels.

    Romero’s excellent bat-to-ball skills and preternatural feel for hitting give the 21-year-old the potential for an above-average hit tool at maturity. His approach will require refinement between now and then; his overall aggressiveness and knack for hitting fastballs could make him susceptible to quality secondary stuff.

    Romero’s short and compact swing yields hard contact from line to line and should net him plenty of doubles in a given season, though his over-the-fence power is likely to play fringe average at the highest level.

    At 5’8”, 190 pounds, Romero is hard-nosed player who’s worked diligently to improve his defense at the keystone. He’s a fringe-average runner who moves well once underway, but Romero’s range on the infield is limited and hurts his overall defensive value. That being said, Romero’s footwork has noticeably improved over the last year, especially around the bag, and his strong arm will always be his best defensive tool.

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (above-average regular)

2. J.T. Realmuto, C

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    Position: C

    DOB: 03/18/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 215 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

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

    Last Year’s Ranking: 7

    ETA: Debuted in 2014

    2014 Stats (AA): 97 G, 423 PA, .299/.369/.461, 34.8 XBH%, 8 HR, 18 SB, 9.7 BB%, 14.0 K%

    2014 MLB Stats: 11 G, 30 PA, .241/.267/.345, 2B, 3B, 8 K

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades)


    Scouting Report

    J.T. Realmuto always has held a spot in my heart, and not just because he batted .595 with 28 home runs in 42 games as a high school senior while also setting national records with 88 hits and 119 RBI.

    The 23-year-old struggled in 2013 at Double-A Jacksonville, but he improved across the board last year in his second tour of the Southern League, which led to him receiving his first taste of the major leagues.

    Realmuto is an excellent athlete who played multiple positions in high school before the Marlins moved him behind the plate following his selection in 2010 draft. The right-handed hitter has the hand-eye coordination, strength and natural talent to hit for both average and power, and he made more consistent contact his past season after simplifying his bat path.

    Realmuto is still learning to tap into his above-average raw power, though he shouldn’t be expected to offer more than average in-game power at the highest level.

    Realmuto is a rare breed of catcher in the sense that he has average speed and first-step quickness to be a threat on the basepaths. Defensively, he has an impressive catch-and-throw skill set with a quick release and plus-arm strength to produce pop times around 1.8 seconds.

    At worst, Realmuto should serve as a backup catcher in The Show, possibly as early as 2015. However, further development of his bat could push the 23-year-old into an everyday role.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (solid-average regular)

1. Tyler Kolek, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 12/15/1995 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’5”, 260 lbs

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: First round, 2014 (Shepherd HS, Texas)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2018

    2014 Stats (Rk): 9 G/8 GS, 22 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, .275 BAA, 0.0 HR/9, 5.3 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

    Future Pitch Grades


    Scouting Report

    Selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Tyler Kolek is everything one looks for in a potential front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, as he’s a physical presence on the mound at 6’5”, 250 pounds with elite fastball velocity.

    Working on a downhill plane from a three-quarters arm slot, Kolek sits comfortably in the mid-90s with his heater and bumps triple digits. More importantly, he produces the near-elite velocity with ease and holds it deep into games.

    Kolek’s secondary arsenal will require thorough development, as he throws an inconsistent slider that flashes plus potential, an average curveball and a seldom-used changeup. However, all three offerings are expected to improve in the coming years, as their current states more so reflect his lack of experience and feel on the mound.

    It will be difficult for Kolek to reach his ceiling as a front-of-the-rotation starter without first drastically improving his control and command, but, as it likely will be the case with his secondary weapons, he’s likely to make natural developmental strides with experience.

    Ceiling (OFP): 70 (No. 2 starter) – Extreme risk


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