|Original Published Date: November 12, 2019|
If you think rebuilding is easy, ask the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins received a lot of criticism, especially early in the rebuilding journey as they just didn’t receive a lot of value for the players they moved. However, people forget that a primary driver for moving some of their All-stars was financial relief. Sometimes rebuilding a farm system and dumping salaries are counter objectives. At the end of the day, the Marlins have a much better system and while some of their top prospects are “boom or bust”, I kind of like what they’ve done.
Sixto Sanchez is their top prospect and has a near ace ceiling. Despite his short stature, he has premium stuff that he can control and should see the Major Leagues in 2020. Jesus Sanchez is their top position player and has all the tools to be an impact performer in the big leagues.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Sixto Sanchez
- Biggest Mover: Edward Cabrera
- Emerging Prospect: Peyton Burdick
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1. Sixto Sanchez (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 SP
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff with present control. He has all the making of a number one except for his size.
Sixto Sanchez was the lead player in the trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia over the winter. He missed all of April with a shoulder issue and over the month of May, didn’t have the same level of command that he’d shown in the past. However, as the calendar rolled over to June, the control and command started to return, and he looked dominant.
He has easy velocity (up to triple-digits) with a slider that also has a chance to be a plus offering. He’s still trying to find a consistent feel for his change-up but it’s clearly the stuff of a front-of-the-rotation arm. The only concern for me continues to be his size. He’s only 6-feet tall. It’s easy to throw a Pedro Martinez and of recent vintage, Luis Severino comparisons as pitchers with elite stuff who are small in stature. However, those examples are exceptions and not the rule. Can Sanchez be an exception? Sure, but just temper your expectations.
I continue to be bullish on Sanchez as the arm is clearly special. For me, the outcomes could be a number one starter or a very good number two, to a lock-down closer.
2. Jesus Sanchez (OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus future power potential with an improving approach and good contact. While he’s yet to break out, all the tools are there to be a solid Major Leaguer.
In the excitement of the trading deadline, I initially missed that the Rays traded Jesus Sanchez to the Marlins for relief pitcher Nick Anderson. While I think Anderson has closer potential with five years of team control remaining, Jesus Sanchez has a higher upside. He has elite bat speed with a chance to hit for plus power at the highest level and he’s currently a solid runner.
The Rays worked hard with him on his approach and being more selective at the plate, but after seeing him several times, he just knows how to make contact. In fact, he reminds me of a young Adam Jones at the plate. He’s up there looking to swing the pole and has such great hand-to-eye coordination that it works. I’m guessing the Marlins will not try and change that in hopes that he will see the Major Leagues sometime in 2020. Once he fully arrives, he could hit 20 to 25 home runs with a .280 batting average, a .320 OBP with a handful of stolen bases. That’s a solid fantasy player.
3. Edward Cabrera (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff with improving control and pitchability. He could be much better than a three.
Edward Cabrera continues to intrigue me. He’s 6-foot-4, throws a hundred miles an hour but at 175 pounds, still has room to grow. Honestly, it’s the emerging profile of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. I’m not saying he will develop into an ace, but with his size, downward plane and electric arm, there’s just a lot to like.
To complement his 80-grade fastball, he flashes a quality change-up and curveball. This season, he’s shown the ability to throw both pitches for strikes and that has obviously proven to be a huge factor in his success.
He just turned 21 in April and had little trouble pitching in the Florida State League. In 11 starts, he pitched to a 2.02 ERA, striking out 11 per nine while walking less than three per nine. The performance gave him a mid-season promotion to Double-A where he put up a similar stat line.
He made our mid-season Top 100 list at slot 96. He’ll be moving up from there next spring.
4. Jazz Chisholm (SS)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2020-21 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
- Tools Summary: Plenty of tools but a 30% strikeout rate is problematic. There’s still a lot to like.
Jazz Chisholm got off to a slow start to the 2019 campaign and things never improved during his tenure in Arizona. It was surprising for a kid who looked great last year, particularly in the Fall League. Will never know if the Diamondbacks simply gave up on him, but in the end, they traded him straight-up for Zac Gallen last July. While Gallen has looked good, I still think Chisholm has the higher upside.
Chisholm is tooled up with great bat speed, is a plus runner and if it all comes together, could be an impact performer at the highest level. His biggest problem to date has been making consistent contact. It stems from him expanding the strike zone. Granted, he’s only 21 years old and playing in Double-A, but pitchers can get him to chase and that is causing him to post nearly a 30% strikeout rate.
I still see a Top 15 shortstop but there is a risk that he’ll never reach his ceiling. The tools are all there. If he can improve his ability to control the strike zone, it should all come together. When will that be? I’m not sure.
5. JJ Bleday (OF)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
- Tools Summary: Multi-part swing is concerning but he’s a high pick and we are treating him as such.
JJ Bleday was taken as the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft and his piggy bank is now $6.6 million dollars heavier. He played college at Vanderbilt and posted great numbers hitting .323 with a .556 SLG in three years. He got a late start to his professional career but based on the success he had in college; the Marlins assigned him to High-A.
I’ve gotten a variety of opinions about Bleday (I haven’t seen him yet). Some believe he’ll hit with power and others think his swing needs to be simplified for him to find success. In looking at video, I’m leaning to the latter. His swing is not short to the ball with a lot of moving parts. He starts high, lowers his bat before a very large load and swing. With this approach, there could be a lot of holes that pitchers will exploit. It does look like he’ll have average to above-average power, but speed will not be part of the equation.
I’m not sure about Bleday. He didn’t make our mid-season Top 100 list and at this point, I’m not inclined to put him there yet. I’m putting his ceiling as a Top 50 outfielder based mostly on the investment the Marlins made.
6. Monte Harrison (OF)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Crazy tools but contact rate continues to be a limiting factor. Realistically, it might not ever come together. For now, I’m holding on.
In rebuilding their system, the Marlins have swung for the fences multiple times and have yet to land that big fish. Yes, I know I’m mixing metaphors… They hoped that Lewis Brinson would be their center fielder of the future, but despite his impressive tools, he just can’t make enough contact. Monte Harrison is the next in line of toolsy players and while his tools are even louder than Brinson, his strikeout rate is even scarier. Granted, he cut down his strikeouts from 37% in 2018 to 30% in 56 games in 2019, there are still concerns that he’ll hit enough to get consistent playing time.
The tools are impressive. He’s athletic, a plus runner, if not more with elite bat speed. The problem is there are huge holes in his swing, and he will expand the strike zone. His walk rate ticked up a bit last year, but I’m not sure that was growth as the sample size was small.
If it all comes together, he could be an impact player for both the Marlins and fantasy owners. However, there is huge risk for him ever achieving that success. For now, I’m holding on, saying nightly prayers, and whatever else I think might work.
7. Victor Victor Mesa (OF)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: Is he rusty or not that good? Top-shelf speed, but showed no power and a very aggressive approach.
Victor Victor Mesa and his brother Victor Mesa Jr. were the center of the baseball universe on October 20th, 2018 when the Miami Marlins signed Victor Victor to a $5.25 million dollar signing bonus and his brother to a million-dollar bonus. The Dynasty League community was excited and we at prospect361 were excited, particularly at the potential of Victor Victor. Why not…in 2017 while playing for La Habana in Cuba, he hit .354 with seven home runs and 40 stolen bases in only 70 games. Plus, he came from a famous baseball family.
The Marlins assigned the 22-year-old to the Florida State League and he showed a lot of understandable rust. In April he hit.226, in May he hit .220 and if it weren’t for a 3 for 4 games on June 30th, he would have hit .223 in June. Plus, he showed no power and rarely walked. The two things he did well was play the outfield and make contact (12% strikeout rate).
In July, the rust started to come off and he hit .319 with a .342 OBP but still showed no power (.362 SLG). Is this who Victor Victor is? A soft-contact player with a great glove who can steal bases. If so, that’s the profile of a fourth outfielder.
At this point, I’m not willing to conclude anything. I did see him in one game in the Fall League and while the bat speed was good, the swing lacked any leverage. At worse, he’s a fourth outfielder for the Marlins, but given the investment they made, I think they will give him every opportunity to be more.
8. Connor Scott (OF)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus speed with the physical projection to add power down the road. Potential 20-20 player.
In the 2018 MLB Draft, the Marlins drafted high school outfielder Connor Scott. Hailing from the same high school as Kyle Tucker, the two don’t really share much in common. While Tucker is a potential five-tool player with plus power and a potential plus hit-tool, Scott’s carrying tool is his top-shelf speed with hopefully enough contactability to get on base at a high clip.
In 2019, Scott showed his plus speed by stealing 23 bases across Low and High-A and decent contact skills. If he were a speed only guy, I would be a little worried about a 22.5% strikeout rate, but at 6-foot-4 and only 180 pounds, it’s easy to project him putting on weight and developing at least average power. Plus, if he can add some loft, there could be even more power potential.
He’s still at least two years away but there is intriguing 20-20 potential with Scott. He’s not a Top 100 prospect yet but could be there if the skills continue to develop.
9. Peyton Burdick (OF)
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
- Tools Summary: Double-plus power and showing the ability to hit.
Drafted in the third round in last June’s draft, Peyton Burdick has gotten off to a fast start to his professional career. After a quick stopover in the New York Penn League, he spent most of his time in Clinton in the Midwest League where he hit .307 with 10 runs and three stolen bases.
Burdick carrying tool is his double-plus power but as opposed to a lot of potential power hitters, the swing isn’t long, and he also shows some plate patience. He can expand the strike zone but if his performance in Low-A is any indication, a 20% strikeout rate, and a 10% walk rate should allow him to get to his power. If it all comes together, the ceiling is a .260/.340/.550 player with 25 to 30 home runs and a handful of stolen bases. While Max Kepler has blown up for more power than that this year, I think that’s a reasonable comp.
10. Lewin Diaz (1B)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 1B
- Tools Summary: Big raw power. He also makes good contact with a decent approach. There might be something there.
Lewin Diaz was part of the return when Sergio Romo was traded to the Twins in July. He didn’t waste any time impressing his new team as he went on a power tear hitting five home runs in the first 10 games of August. The power outburst wasn’t a total surprise as he hit 20 bombs across High and Double-A while with the Twins earlier in the season.
At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds (he looks heavier), Diaz is a big kid with a swing that will naturally have holes. However, he’s always made good contact, averaging a 17% K/9 ratio throughout his minor league career. He’s got solid power and that in combination with his ability to make contact gives him some intrigue for fantasy owners. While I’m not ready to add him in most Dynasty League formats, he’s on my watch list.
11. Trevor Rogers (LHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or reliever if he can’t stay healthy
- Tools Summary: Solid stuff with good size, but health has been an ongoing problem.
I’ve owned Trevor Rogers in the past but got frustrated because, well, I get impatient. Of course, a 5.82 ERA in 2018 gave me tremendous pause. When you couple that with a guy who just has not been able to stay healthy, you bail – er, I guess I should say, I bail.
This season, he showed good swing and miss stuff in both the Florida State and Southern League with much-improved control. The stuff still looks solid with a fastball that can scrape the mid-90s and both a slider and change-up that show promise.
It’s likely to come down to health. I think Rogers has good enough stuff to be a big leaguer with a good chance to stay a starter. However, if he must move to a bullpen role, the stuff will play.
12. Jorge Guzman (RHP)
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
- Tools Summary: Premium stuff but 30-grade control is suggesting a move to the bullpen is in the cards.
Jorge Guzman has one of the highest fastball velocities in all of baseball. I’ve personally clocked him at 102 in 2017 but have heard that he’s touched 103. But man cannot live on fastballs alone. His slider is still a work-in-progress and he has yet to show a feel for a change-up.
Throughout his career, Guzman has struggled with his control. In 2018, he posted a 6.0 BB/9 ratio in 21 starts in High-A and while it’s been better in 2019, he’s still walking 4.61 per nine. Plus, his strikeout rate has gone down this year and that is concerning. However, when it’s all working like it was on August 3rd, he can be lights out. In seven innings against Biloxi in the Southern League, he gave up one hit, struck out seven while walking two.
While it’s easy to fall in love with Guzman’s raw stuff, there are enough warning signs out there to suggest a move to the bullpen is in order. I think the slider will develop and that combined with his 100 MPH fastball could make him a force at the backend of the bullpen. Having seen him, I believe the slider develops quickly. If that happens, I further believe that the Marlins should then move him to the bullpen and get his arm to the major leagues.
13. Nick Neidert (RHP)
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Average fastball but a plus change-up and plus control is a recipe for early success in the big leagues.
I first saw Nick Neidert pitch in the California League All-star game in 2017 and left unfulfilled. The stuff was very average with a fastball that sat 90 to 92 MPH and ok secondary pitches. I saw him again in the Fall League this year and his fastball still was an average offering but his change-up had improved meaningfully.
He also has some funk in his delivery and controls his arsenal very well. I know his walk numbers were up from previous years, but he also battled a knee problem most of the year.
With plus control, a plus change-up from the left side, Neidert could have success in the Major Leagues, especially early. Long-term, the entire arsenal plays as more of a number four starter, but in deep drafts next season, I would be adding him very late.
14. Nasim Nunez (SS)
- Highest Level: Short-Season ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Double-plus defender with blazing speed but has no power and there is concern about how much he’ll hit.
One of the more intriguing prospects in the Marlins system is Nasim Nunez. Selected in the second round of last June’s draft, Nunez is a double-plus defender at short with blazing speed. If you talked to anyone who saw him in the GCL last season, they can’t stop talking about his athleticism and defensive skills. He also stole 28 of 30 bases and when you only get 37 hits, that’s almost hard to imagine. The problem is he posted a .251 SLG which is equally hard to believe.
He’s a slappy hitter who doesn’t drive the ball at all. This might work in the lower minor leagues, but he needs to add strength in order to handle better pitching. There is also concern about how much he’ll hit. He struck out 20% last season and when your skills are built around speed, he’ll need to make better contact.
Again, he’s intriguing as there are definite skills but equally several deficiencies. If he gains strength and cuts down his strikeouts, he could be an impact performer. If he doesn’t, he’s a utility player at best.
15. Victor Mesa Jr. (OF)
- Highest Level: Rookie ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 75 OF
- Tools Summary: Average tools but showing the ability to hit.
While the spotlight has been on Victor Victor Mesa, his brother Victor Mesa Jr. has been holding his own in his first taste of professional ball. In 47 games in the GCL, he slashed .284/.366/.398 with a home run and seven stolen bases. While his brother has more tools, Victor Mesa Jr. is quickly showing that he might have the hit-tool to be a major leaguer as well.
Mesa Jr. doesn’t have a true carrying tool, but instead has a lot of average to above-average tools. He’s a good runner who should be able to steal double-digit stolen bases. His power is average at best but still should be able to post a .400 SLG with a handful of home runs. The encouraging tool is his hit tool as he appears to have an approach with a good understanding of the strike zone. If it all comes together, he could be a full-time regular in the outfield, although he doesn’t have the power for a corner, and he might not have the chops to play center. That usually means, he’ll be a fourth or fifth outfielder.
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