It must be tough to be a Marlins Fan!
Jeffrey Loria rewarded the Miami tax payers by spending huge monies on Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell last winter and then in less than 12 months, all of them and more are gone. I guess we should have read the tea leafs when Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder refused to sign with the Marlins because they wanted a no trade clause in their agreement but the Marlins refused.
While Marlins fans are rightfully disgusted and can’t feel anything but betrayal, the 12 player trade might actually pay dividends for the Marlins in the long run. While the team didn’t get the best prospects from the Blue Jays, they did get some extremely useful pieces that improve their minor league system significantly. Additionally, Marisnick and Nicolino should join the other top prospects in the Marlins organization in Double-A, which establishes a team that will migrate together to the Majors over the 2014 and 2015 season.
Here’s a breakdown of the three key prospects that the Marlins received.
Drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft, Marisnick looks the part of a big leaguer at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. His plus speed plays well in center field with the ability to track balls and cover lots of ground. With an above average arm, the whole package should make him an above average defender and the long-term answer for the Marlins in center. This would move Christian Yelich to left field.
Marisnick flew up prospect rankings in 2011 after a stellar year where he batted .320 with 14 home runs and 37 stolen bases. While there was some worry that his batting average was fueled by a .371 BABIP, the 80% contact and decent plate discipline eliminated a lot of the fears. However, 2012 saw Marisnick batting average dip to .249 across High-A and Double-A while only slugging eight home runs. A lot of the batting average regression was just a normalized BABIP but in looking at his hitting mechanics, he does have a slight hitch in his swing. This needs to be resolved or he’ll have even more trouble as he moves to the upper minors and eventually the Major Leagues.
In the end, Marisnick is a great addition by the Marlins and has a chance to be a first division starter at the highest level. Assuming the Fish can work on his swing, I see a.280 hitter with the ability to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases while playing an above average center field.
I would rank Marisnick as the number three prospect in the Marlins organization.
Out of the three young pitching studs of Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndegaard, and Justin Nicolino, the Marlins got the pitcher with the highest floor but the lowest ceiling.
Nicolino’s arsenal consist of an 89-92 MPH fastball, a slow mid 70’s curve that is a classic 12 to 6 offering and a plus change-up that I think is his best pitch. While his stuff is good it plays up because he throws strikes. In 124 innings in Low-A, he walked a measly 21 batters. Mechanically, his delivery is sound, although he does throw across his body and this could lead to injuries down the road.
While Nicolino has only pitched in Low-A, I would expect the Marlins to be aggressive with him and move him through High-A and Double-A in 2013. Assuming he can handle this challenge, which I believe he will, you could expect to see him in a Miami uniform sometime in the 2014 season.
I would rank Nicolino as the number five prospect in the Marlins organization with a number two ceiling.
Adeiny Hechavarria (SS)
Hechavarria glove is ready for the major leagues, but offensively, he’ll always be an end of the order batter.
I had a chance to see Hechavarria and Jose Iglesias, the young Boston Red Sox shortstop go head-to-head in fielding practice and it was a site indeed. Hechavarria has gold glove potential with great range, soft hands and a plus arm. That said, I’ve seen his game get sloppy from time to time as he seems to be showing off his great skills. For instance, I saw a couple of routine plays that he seemed to take for granted and then have to turn it on when he got into trouble. He made the plays, but it wasn’t as easy as it should have been.
Offensively, Hechavarria swing mechanics are actually pretty good. He makes good contact with his compact swing and has some speed that plays to his advantage. In my opinion, his offensive problems have to do with his lack of physicality. In other words, there is just not a lot of strength in his swing. Will this improve as he mature? Perhaps, but the whole package at the moment plays as a below average hitter.
Expect Hechavarria to start the 2013 season as the Marlins starting shortstop with stellar defense and a .230 batting average and a handful of stolen bases.