Marlins Looking to Hook up Some Big Fish

The Marlines have not had good farm systems since myworld began rating them in 2009. They had two years when they were rated in the top ten, 2009 and 2013. Those two years they had players like Cameron Maybin, Mike “Soon to be Known as Giancarlo’ Stanton, Logan Morrison, Matt Dominguez (2009), Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. Last year the Marlins traded Stanton and Yelich to upgrade their farm system. Cameron Maybin was also one of the players they traded Miguel Cabrera to acquire. Entering the 2018 season the team had five players rated at the lower levels of the Top 100 prospect rankings. Brian Anderson, Jorge Guzman, Isan Diaz, Sandy Alcantara and Monte Harrison all appeared in various top ten rankings.

The Marlins hope the jewel of their farm system is named Victor Victor Mesa. They outbid the Orioles to sign him and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. The older Victor has already had success in the Cuban professional leagues as a teenager. If he achieves anything near what his father achieved when he played for the Cuban National teams the Marlins will be happy with that production. The weakest tool in his arsenal may be his power. At 5′9″ he is not an imposing hitter but Jose Altuve (5′6″) and Jose Ramirez (5′9″) have overcome their height deprivation to develop into pretty good power hitters. The speed is there to steal bases and cover centerfield and the arm has the fire power to play right. His bat should keep his average around .300. Many who have seen him play put him in the Victor Robles category, but Victor is 6′0″.

His brother, Victor Mesa Jr. lacks the quality tools of Victor Victor and does not come with the Series Nacional reputation. He did play on the Cuban 18 and under National team and the Marlins shelled out $1 million to sign him. At 17 years of age he has some time to develop at the lower levels.

Before the signing of Victor Victor Mesa, Monte Harrison may have been the Marlins top prospect. The Brewers second round pick in 2014 was part of the Christian Yelich haul. The tools are there for him to out produce Yelich if he achieves his billing. The power/speed combination is there for him to fit at the top or middle of the order and his arm could easily have him fit in right. The one concern with him is his struggles to make contact. Last year he struck out 215 times, which depresses his average (.240) and his ability to hit for power (19 homeruns).

Connor Scott is a solid lefthanded power bat that was selected with the Marlins first pick in the 2018 draft. The ability for a speed/power combo is there but right now only the speed is present. Connor has the ability to cover a lot of ground in center and be a pest on the bases. In close to 200 at bats last year he only hit one homerun, but at 6′4″ many expect the power to develop once he adds more loft to his swing and learns to pull the juicy pitches.

Myworld also likes the potential of Tristan Pompey, the younger brother of Dalton. The speed tools are not as great as his brother which may limit him to a corner outfield position. That means his bat will have to appear for him to fit in a corner. A below average arm could restrict him to left field. Last year he hit .299 at three levels with an impressive 32/47 walk to whiff ratio.

The shine has dimmed for once highly touted Venezuelan Brayan Hernandez who the Mariners signed for $1.85 million. The Mariners traded him to the Marlins as part of a package for David Phelps. The arm and legs are strong for him to be a quality defensive player in center or right. The big area of concern is whether his bat will hit enough for him to become more than a fourth outfielder/defensive replacement. Coming into the 2018 season his minor league career average was .260. He lowered that with a .215 average last year and still has not seen more than five at bats outside the Rookie Leagues.

The Marlins have accumulated some hard throwers among their young pitchers. Jorge Guzman may be the hardest thrower, taking over the mantle of most impressive velocity on his fastball from Michael Kopech. The Marlins acquired Guzman from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade. There is still a long path he needs to travel before he sets foot on a major league mound. His control of the strike zone needs to improve (64 walks in 96 innings) and he needs to develop an off speed pitch as a third offering. Otherwise he could end up being used in the bullpen, but with consistent triple digits with his fastball it would be in a closer role.

Sandy Alcantara may not throw as hard as Guzman but he has three pitches (fastball, slider and change) that have the potential to be quality pitches. His fastball rides the radar in the high 90s and his low 90s changeup contains more velocity than many pitchers fastballs. His command of the plate is still a bit sketchy with 23 walks in 34 innings in his major league debut. Alcantara was acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade.

There have been a couple Edward Cabreras that have tried with little success of becoming major league pitchers. Edward is one more. The Dominican was actually signed by the Marlins for $100,000 in 2015. His fastball has hit triple digits but tends to sit in the mid-90s with a quality slider. Like Guzman he has to enhance his third pitch, a change to prevent having a career in the bullpen. Despite his heat opponents hit him at a .270 clip last year, down from his previous years when they hit him at a .280 plus clip.

Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers are two lefthanders who were drafted in the first round, Garrett in 2016 and Rogers in 2017. Garrett did not pitch last year because of Tommy John surgery and Rogers did not pitch in 2017 because of a tired arm. Trevor did start 17 games last year with little success (5.82 ERA and .295 opposition average). Garrett was known for his breaking pitch and low 90s fastball with decent command while Rogers fastball crosses the plate in the mid-90s but needs to improve his secondary pitches. The 2019 season will be critical to both.

We loved Ryan Yarbrough when we saw him pitch in Durham a couple years ago. He did not throw hard but he was always around the plate, fooling hitters with his quality change. Jordan Yamamoto reminds me of Yarborough and we can’t explain “y”. Yamamoto does not throw hard but retires hitters with his curveball. What separates the two is Yarbrough throws lefthanded and stands at 6′5″. Yamamoto throws righthanded and only stands 6′0″. He did finish the 2018 season with a 1.88 ERA with a opposition average of .177. Will he go 16-6 in his major league debut? Probably not, but time will tell.

Isan Diaz was another player acquired in the Christian Yelich deal. He hit .360 in his first minor league season but has not come close to that production since. As the years have marched forward he appears more like a .250 hitter with the ability to hit for 20 plus homeruns. There is a lot of swing and miss in his game. Second base has been his primary position in the minor leagues so it is unclear if he could hack it as a utility player. His lack of range would prevent him from playing short long term.

Two players with good pedigrees but lesser tools are Jose Devers and Joe Dunand. Jose is the younger brother of Rafael. The glove is superior to Rafael allowing him to play short but the power is lacking. He was included in the Stanton trade. Last year he went without a homerun in over 350 at bats but hit .272 with a .330 slugging percentage. Joe is the nephew of Alex Rodriguez but myworld would bet my mortgage that his numbers will fall far short. Dunand was a second round pick of the Marlins in 2017. He may not have the range to stick at shortstop but his bat could be too soft to be a good fit at third. A utility role could be in his future.

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