Miami Marlins

The Marlins made the playoffs for the first time since 2003. They didn’t win a championship as they did in 2003 but made significant strides on the back of an extremely young team.  In reviewing their minor league system, seven of the Top 10 players spent time on the Marlins roster this year.  While I didn’t go back to see if that was a record, it sure feels like one.  Some of these players made significant contributions to the cause.

First and foremost was the number one player on the list, Sixto Sanchez.  He came out throwing 100 MPH showing the kind of Moxy on the mound you want to see from a number one starter.  While Edward Cabrera did not make it to the show, I consider him a close second to Sanchez.  He has the stuff and athleticism to also pitch at the top of the rotation.  Jazz Chisholm is the top-ranked positional player and while he struggled in his debut, he has the tools to be a star.  The question is, will he hit enough?

The Marlins are moving in the right direction and I believe their window could open as soon as 2021.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Sixto Sanchez
  • Biggest Mover: Braxton Garrett
  • Emerging Prospect: Yiddi Cappe

1. Sixto Sanchez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SP
  • Tools Summary: Premium stuff that was on display for seven starts in 2020

Talk about exploding onto the scene.  Sixto Sanchez did just that when he made his Major League debut on August 22nd easily pumping 100 MPH and showing an attitude that said – try and hit it.  Overall, it was impressive.  In seven starts, he posted a 3.46 ERA striking out 7.6 per nine and walking 2.5 per nine.  The strikeout rate doesn’t match what you think when a guy is pumping 100 MPH.  But, in looking at his secondary pitches, they are inconsistent.  The slider and curve are above-average but the change-up isn’t there yet.  Plus, the fastball spin rate only averaged 2,164 RPM.  Net-net, there is something here.  It’s not perfect as the change-up needs to improve and he’s still only 6-feet, so home runs could be an issue.  However, the fastball-slider combination is the basis for an ace, or close to it.

2. Edward Cabrera (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 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.  I have put his ETA in 2021 and don’t be surprised if he goes all “Sixto Sanchez” on the league.

3. Jazz Chisholm (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Plenty of tools but a 30% strikeout rate is problematic.  Don’t give up though, there is star potential here.

Jazz Chisholm was a surprise call-up over the summer, and it was even more of a surprise when he made the post-season roster.  He only hit .161 with a 30% strikeout but did hit two home runs and stole two bases.  That sentence says it all.  He’s tooled up with great bat speed showing plus speed on the bases. His biggest problem to date has been making consistent contact.  He just expands the strike zone too much.  The good and bad were on display this summer but his tools are what stars are made of.  Dynasty League owners can not give up and need to be patient.

4. Braxton Garrett (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Fully recovered from TJS, he made his Major League debut and showed solid stuff

As with many of the Marlins prospects, Braxton Garrett was a first-round draft pick (2016 – 7th overall).  Along with his fellow first-round picks, he also got the call in 2020 to make his Major League debut.  While it was only two starts, the arsenal looked solid but far from elite.  His fastball sat 89.5 MPH but had good active spin (2,212 RPM).  His curveball looked like his best offering with his change-up needing work.  While it’s not an overpowering arsenal, he does pound the strike zone and therefore, the entire package plays up.  Throw-in the nice pitching confines of Marlins Park, and the ceiling is a number three starter.

5. JJ Bleday (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Multi-part swing is concerning but he was a high pick and we are treating him as such

I’ve gotten a variety of opinions about JJ 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 videos, 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 putting his ceiling as a Top 50 outfielder based mostly on the investment the Marlins made.  But bottom line, I need to see him to provide a better opinion on his realistic ceiling.

6. Max Meyer (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: Smallish pitcher with a plus fastball-slider combination

As is evident with the trade for Sixto Sanchez, the Marlins are not afraid of “smallish pitchers”.  So, with the third overall pick in the 2020 draft, they selected 6-foot right-hander Max Meyer.  He’s got great stuff with a fastball that will scrape 97 MPH and a wipeout slider.  He doesn’t show much of a feel for a change-up yet.  Like Sanchez, his delivery has a ton of effort and that combined with his size might push him to the bullpen.  However, the Marlins will continue to develop him as a starter, and given the recent success they’ve had with pitchers, I’m buying.

7. Lewin Diaz (1B)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 1B
  • Tools Summary: Big raw power.  He also makes good contact with a decent approach. 

At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Lewin 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.  The Marlins did give him a two-week showcase in the Major Leagues and he only hit .222 but the exposure should set him up nicely to see playing time in 2021.  I could see him splitting time between first and DH.

8. Jesus Sanchez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has 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

I’ve always been a big fan of Jesus Sanchez.  He makes good contact and has elite bat speed that should eventually translate into future power.  However, I was disappointed in his Major League debut.  Sure, he didn’t hit (1 for 25) but more to the point, he looked afraid to swing.  It was the definition of being overwhelmed.  While my confidence in my analysis was shaken, he’s still just turned 23 and the profile still points to a kid who will hit with 25 plus home runs.  But Jesus, you gotta swing the pole every once in a while!

9. Trevor Rogers (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP or reliever
  • Tools Summary: Good size with a plus fastball but the lack of secondary pitches might point to a bullpen role

The Marlins gave Trevor Rogers a seven-game trial in the Major Leagues and while the stat line didn’t look good (28 IP and a 6.11 ERA), he showed the Marlins enough to make the post-season roster.  In analyzing his stuff, it’s a plus fastball that averaged 93.6 MPH but with a high spin rate.  The problem is his slider looks average and his change-up isn’t very good.   Since pitchers cannot live with just a fastball, he’ll need to improve his secondary offering to remain a starter.

10. Monte Harrison (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors 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.

Monte Harrison got his chance to play over the summer in the Majors as did many of his fellow Marlins.  The result was a .170 average and a 50% strikeout range.  Sigh.  The tools are some of the best you’ll ever see.  He’s a plus runner, if not more with elite bat speed.  The problem, as many of you saw, are huge holes in his swing.  If it all comes together, he could be an impact player for both the Marlins and fantasy managers.  However, there is risk for him ever achieving that success.  For now, I’m holding on, saying nightly prayers, and whatever else I think might work.

11. Connor Scott (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with risk
  • Tools Summary: He has 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.  His carrying tool is double-plus speed and enough bat speed to add power down the road.  When he last played, he needed to put on weight and just mature as a player.  There’s intriguing fantasy upside given his speed and it was a good sign that the Marlins assigned him to the Alternate site for the 2020 season.

12. Peyton Burdick (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Double-plus power and showing the ability to hit

Peyton Burdick’s carrying tool is his double-plus power but as opposed to a lot of potential power hitters, the swing isn’t long.  He can expand the strike zone but in general, he’s patient at the plate and can work a count. 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. 

13. Nasim Nunez (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DNP 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 the 2019 draft, Nunez is a double-plus defender at short with blazing speed.  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 to handle better pitching.  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.

14. Yiddi Cappe (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Int’l Player projected to sign ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: One of the top 2020-21 international signs.  Great bat speed with a feel to hit

Yiddi Cappe is a Cuban émigré that will sign when he’s 18-years-old as oppose to most J2 players who sign at 16.  He’s a big kid at 6-foot-3 with great bat speed and a feel for hitting.  He understands the strike zone and once he knocks the rust off, should be able to move quickly through the system.  He’s currently a plus runner but as he fills out, he will likely lose a grade.  There’s a lot to like here.

15. Nick Neidert (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 SP or bullpen arm
  • Tools Summary: Average fastball but a plus change-up and control is a recipe for early success in the big leagues.

Nick Neidert saw his first Big League action in the 2020 season.  While I view him as a starter long-term, he pitched out of the bullpen.  In 8.1 innings, he showed an average fastball (91.6 MPH but with a high spin rate) and a plus slider.  He didn’t show his change-up, but it also rates as an average pitch.  So, it’s an average arsenal that plays up because he has solid control and throws with some funk in his delivery.  His ceiling is a back-of-the-rotation starter or a bullpen arm.