|Original Published Date: November 14, 2017|
The Miami Marlins is one of the weaker systems in the league. While they have some players, even very good players, the system just doesn’t have the depth necessary to build a championship.
The best positional player is Brian Anderson, who has already seen time in the major leagues. He had an excellent season and should get every opportunity to be the starting third baseman entering 2018. The best pitching prospect is Trevor Rogers, the Marlins 2017 first round pick. He’s still a teenager though and is at least three to four years away from seeing Miami.
While there are many other talented players in the system, I don’t see any of them as impact performers. It’s tough as the window is starting to close with the existing crew in Miami, particularly if the Marlins trade Giancarlos Stanton.
Brian Anderson (3B)
Highest Level: Majors, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 3B
I think Brian Anderson is underappreciated. While I don’t think his upside is that of a perennial all-star, he’s getting better and I think he could be the answer at third base for the fish as soon as next year.
Anderson had an excellent season in 2017. Splitting his time between Double and Triple-A, he slashed .275/.361/.492 with 22 home runs. His performance earned him a September call-up to the big leagues.
The best news was his improved ability to the control the strike zone. In 120 games, he posted an 18% strikeout rate with nearly a 10% walk rate. When you consider he’s now hitting with above-average power, it’s easy to see why the Marlins are getting excited about their third base prospect.
Scouting Report: There’s just a lot to like with Brian Anderson. The swing is solid with good bat speed and he has enough physicality to project above-average in-game power. That power finally started to show this past season, and I see that continuing.
He continues to make good contact while showing good plate discipline. Both stats point to a solid .270 batting average with a .350 on-base percentage. Anderson has below average foot speed so stolen bases will not be a big part of his profile.
Fantasy Impact: Brian Anderson has the skills to post a .270 batting average with 18 to 22 home runs. That should make him a serviceable corner infielder on a fantasy team or a third base option in deeper leagues. While he could start the year back in Triple-A to begin the 2018 season, it won’t be long before he’s manning third base full-time for the fish.
Trevor Rogers (LHP)
Highest Level: DNP, ETA: 2021, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
From 2010 to 2012, the Marlins drafted Christian Yelich, the late Jose Fernandez, and Andrew Heaney. While Heaney is still young in his career, I think it’s safe to say that the Marlins nailed those three picks. Since then, the first round has not been productive for them. They have drafted both pitchers and positional players, high-schoolers and college players, but have not hit on a stud. They hope that changed with their selection last June of high school lefty, Trevor Rogers.
Evaluators are mixed. He has the size and present stuff to warrant his first round selection, but he played high school ball in New Mexico, not the hotbed of elite prospects and turns 20 this November. Plus, the Marlins decided not to assign him to an affiliate this year, preferring to hold him back in the complex. So, his first action, likely in Low-A will be as a 20-year-old. If you’re looking for red flags…there you go.
Scouting Report: As stated, there’s a lot to get excited about with Rogers. At 6-foot-6 and a slender 185 pounds, he has the size and physical projection to eventually add some velocity to an already plus fastball. He can run his current fastball to the mid-90’s and when he’s on, flashes a solid slider. He hasn’t shown much of a change-up yet.
His delivery is simple with not a lot of effort. His extension to the plate isn’t great and I think that’s something the Marlins will address. When you’re 6-foot-6 already, getting even closer to the plate on your delivery will just make life more difficult for batters. Throw-in that he’s a lefty and if it all comes together, he could be extremely difficult to face.
Fantasy Impact: While I don’t like that Rogers is already 20 and has yet to throw a pitch in professional baseball, I do like his size and plus fastball. In looking at his mechanics, he’s athletic and seems to be able to repeat his delivery. Hopefully, this will translate into solid control. Clearly, there is risk, but I think the upside says a number three starter, perhaps more if he stays healthy and fills out as projected.
Braxton Garrett (LHP)
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2021-22, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
Braxton Garrett was one of the players drafted in 2016 that we did not have any minor league stat lines during his draft year. We got exactly 15.1 innings last season before the young left-hander felt a pinch in his elbow, eventually having Tommy John reconstructive surgery in June. He will at least miss the first part of 2018 but the entire season could be lost. If it is, he will pick-up his career, likely back in Low-A in 2019 at 21-years-old.
Scouting Report: Garrett’s 2016 Scouting Report has been provided with minimal edits.
Garrett has good stuff with a fastball that sits 89 to 92 MPH with a lot of late hop. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, there is physical projection remaining and with that could be another tick or two on his fastball.
His best pitch is a hammer curve that was too much for high schoolers. If he continues to develop the pitch and his fastball develops into a 60 offering, he could have the stuff to profile as a number two starter in baseball.
Fantasy Impact: Tommy John reconstructive surgery is a major operation and while the success rate has been good, it’s far from guaranteed. At this juncture, we don’t know how successful the surgery will be for Garrett, but as important, we just don’t have much data on him. He’s pitched 15.1 innings in four starts. In Dynasty Leagues with limited rosters, sometimes you have to make calls to drop a player in which you’ve spent a high draft pick. Garrett might be one of those players. If he recovers and hits his ceiling, be happy for him, but don’t feel bad for your team. Obviously, if you can hold on, you should, but sometimes you have to make hard choices.
Merandy Gonzalez (RHP)
Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP or MR
With the Mets long recent history of developing major league pitchers, when a young Mets pitcher gets traded, you have to take note. When the Marlins sent A.J. Ramos to the Mets for young right-handed pitcher Merandy Gonzalez near the trade deadline, I took notice.
Gonzalez had a good season spending half his time in the Sally League and the other half in High-A; splitting time between St. Lucia and Jupiter. He put up great numbers. In 130.1 innings, he posted a 1.66 ERA with 103 strikeouts and only 26 walks. His strikeout rate did dip upon his promotion to High-A but he kept throwing strikes.
Scouting Report: Gonzalez has good stuff with a fastball that he can run up to the mid-nineties. His best secondary pitch is a hard slider, you might even call it a cutter. He also throws a curve ball to provide a change in eye level for batters. His change-up is still developing and is currently a below average offering.
Gonzalez has a quick arm but does not follow through very well on his delivery. In watching him, you can see the recoil back through his shoulder. It’s a delivery of a reliever and when you combine that with his short stature, a move to the bullpen could be in the cards at some point down the road.
Fantasy Impact: Despite his Mets pedigree, I am not running out to sign Gonzalez yet to any of my Dynasty League teams. He’s got good stuff and can throw strikes, but his short stature and delivery bother me and point to a potential career as a bullpen arm.
Brian Miller (OF)
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
The Marlins picked up a supplemental first-round draft pick in last June’s draft and selected Brian Miller, an outfielder from the University of North Carolina. He had a standout career at UNC, walking more than he struck out each year while stealing 53 bases over his three-year career.
The Marlins assigned him to Greensboro of the Sally League where he continued to hit and steal bases. In 55 games, he hit .329 while striking out only 12.5% of the time and walking 8.5% of the time. He also stole 19 bases. The Marlins will likely push him aggressively with a High-A assignment to begin the 2018 season likely.
Scouting Report: Miller’s carrying tool is his plus speed followed by his ability to control the strike zone. He does have good bat speed with some pull power. However, that’s not his game and when he tries to turn into a power guy, the swing gets long and strikeouts follow. I said the same thing about Trea Turner after he was drafted. Things have worked pretty well for Turner but Miller is not the same player. I think he needs to focus on making contact and getting on base. If he does, he could be a top-of-the-order impact player. If not, he’s a fourth outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: Because of his plus speed, Miller is an intriguing fantasy option. There’s a non-zero chance he’s a fourth outfielder, but the upside is a 30 stolen base asset with a .270/.350 batting average/OBP.
Dillon Peters (LHP)
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
Dillon Peters season got off to a slow start after he broke his thumb early in the season. He returned in July and pitched so well that the Marlins promoted him to the majors on September 1st. He made an immediate impact by throwing seven shutout innings in his first start in the big leagues.
Scouting Report: Peters is not your classic pitcher. He’s 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds. The hope is that he becomes Marcus Stroman, another small pitcher. However, unlike Stroman, Peters does not have a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s or a plus slider that can really miss bats. Instead, Peters sits more 91 to 93 MPH but does have plus control with the ability to locate all of his pitches.
What has also been surprising about Peters is his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. In his 45.2 innings in Double-A, he gave up on one home run.
Fantasy Impact: Peters should only be owned in the deepest of Dynasty Leagues. While his upside is a number five pitcher, he’s more likely a middle reliever, possibly a LOOGY.
Brayan Hernandez (OF)
Highest Level: Short Season, ETA: 2021, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
Brayan Hernandez was acquired as a part of the July trade of David Phelps. While the deal didn’t work out well for the Mariners as Phelps season ended early due to an elbow impingement, the deal was equally risky for the Marlins as it will take four years or more before they know what type of player Hernandez will become.
Scouting Report: Hernandez was well thought of coming out of the 2014 international signing period where he commanded a two million dollar signing bonus. While he’s raw, he has plus speed and plus bat speed that could point to some future power. However, his hit tool is very raw with little plate zone judgment and a very aggressive approach. While he’s only 19-years-old, he might need another season in short-season ball before the Marlins move him to a full season affiliate in 2019.
Fantasy Impact: While the tools are alluring, Hernandez should only be owned in very deep leagues. His upside though is a Top 45 outfielder but with extreme risk. Don’t get too cute and roster him, but instead, I would put him on my watch list and check in weekly to see if his stats indicate he is starting to understand the strike zone.
James Nelson (3B)
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2020, Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
Selected in the 15th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, James Nelson had a fine season in Low-A where he slashed .307/.354/.455 with seven home runs and six stolen bases. The stat line is a little misleading though as he struck out 24% of the time while walking only 6% of the time. His high batting average was mostly a result of a .399 BABIP that will likely not last.
Scouting Report: The Marlins do believe they have something in Nelson as they like his approach at the plate and his swing. I did get a chance to see him last season and would agree on their analysis of his swing. I will add that it is more geared to line drives as he lacks leverage. When he makes contact, it’s hard, but he’s definitely looking to swing the pole when it’s his turn to bat.
The Florida State League should present challenges for Nelson and I’m afraid his raw approach will be exposed. However, the swing does work and in time, I do believe he will hit enough to see time at the major league level. That will likely be as a part-time player but again, the Marlins believe there is more in the tank and therefore, he makes our list.
Fantasy Impact: Nelson should be ignored in most formats but given the reports I have on him, he should be monitored.
Braxton Lee (OF)
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2018, Fantasy Ceiling: Waiver Wire OF
Braxton Lee was drafted by the Rays in 2014 and found his way to the Marlins in the Adeiny Hechavarria trade last June. After a down season in 2016, he bounced back to have a terrific year in Double-A. He hit .309 with a .395 OBP with 20 stolen bases. He also posted a reasonable 18.9% strikeout rate while walking 9.7% of the time.
Scouting Report: Lee has a number of average tools but doesn’t have any true plus tools. He has good speed and controls the strike zone well but has well below-average power. He’s a good outfielder and probably has enough overall skills to be a fourth outfielder in the major leagues.
Fantasy Impact: Lee can be ignored in all but the deepest Dynasty Leagues.
Tyler Kolek (RHP)
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: Unknown, Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
Let’s face it, it’s not gone well for Tyler Kolek, the second overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. He reportedly threw 100 MPH in high school but when I saw him in 2015, he was sitting 93 to 95 MPH with poor control. Then he blows out his elbow and lost all of 2016 and most of the 2017 season. He did make it back for 3.2 ugly innings where he posted a 29.45 ERA with 14 walks. That’s 14 walks in three innings…ok, let’s call it four innings. He was shut down on August 3rd. It’s just hard to find anything positive in his performance.
Because the Marlins system is so weak and Kolek was paid six million dollars, he continues to make our list. However, we are worried and the Marlins must be as well.
Scouting Report: Unfortunately, I really don’t have anything to add to Kolek’s scouting report and have pasted the scouting report from 2015. It’s really not relevant but since I like to have a scouting section, I decided to include it.
Stats are stats and they need to be put into context, particularly when you are trying to evaluate players in the lower levels of the minor leagues. However, when you combine a 6.82 K/9 and a 5.10 BB/9 with a pitcher who reportedly threw 100 MPH two years ago and is now throwing 93 to 95 (T96), it’s time to be concerned. When I saw Kolek in mid-August, that is was what I had him on my gun. Plus, the fastball was straight with little life and the Lakewood BlueClaws were squaring it pretty well. His secondary pitches were average with his slurvy breaking pitch better than his changeup. He did strike out three batters when I saw him, two on his breaking pitch and one on his fastball, but he also gave up 9 hits in five innings.
What I did like about Kolek was his size. He’s a big dude. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he has the size to log big innings in the major leagues. Plus, let’s face it, he throws hard – 93 to 95 MPH is nothing to sneeze at and despite his fastball being a little flat, he can still bring it. Remember, arsenals can improve, new pitches can be learned (I would love to see the Marlins add a two-seamer), so all is not lost. That said, he no longer has a top-of-the-rotation ceiling but instead, the ceiling has moved to a number three.
Fantasy Impact: I know he’s got the pedigree and the Marlins have a ton invested in him, but it’s probably time to move on. He’s got a long journey back and showed nothing in 2017 to give me confidence that success is imminent.
2018 Emerging Prospect
Chad Smith (RHP)
Chad Smith was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 MLB Draft and after a tough introduction to professional ball in his draft year, pitched very well last season. He throws hard with a good slider and profiles as a potential closer down the road. He’s already 23 so I would expect the Marlins to accelerate his path to the major leagues.
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