Miami Marlins

If the Marlins could just develop some hitters, they could begin to put things together. They’ve got some of the best young pitchers in the league and still have Edward Cabrera, one of the best pitchers in the minor leagues, Sixto Sanchez, Max Meyer, and Eury Perez – all of which have a chance to pitch at the top-of-the-rotation. Yet, their top positional player is an 18-year-old shortstop with nine games of experience.  Don’t’ get me wrong, I like Khalil Watson a lot, but he’s three years away at least and a lot can go wrong.  After that, there are some complementary players but no stars.  It’s a problem.  Perhaps the Marlins can dip into the free agency.  Maybe some of their young players will develop into stars.  Jazz Chisholm and Jesus Sanchez have shown flashes, but both are very aggressive hitters and will be prone to low on-base percentages.  I dunno…but, you’ve got to score runs to win games.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Edward Cabrera
  • Biggest Mover: Eury Perez
  • Emerging Prospect: Jose Salas

1. Edward Cabrera (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling:  Fantasy Ace
  • Tools Summary: Premium arsenal with two potential 80-grade pitches.  Command and control are not there yet but has the athleticism to achieve

Edward Cabrera started the season late with bicep inflammation but move quickly through Triple-A finishing up the season by starting 5 games for Miami.  The stuff is that of an ace with a fastball that sits 97 MPH and a knockout change-up.  His slider though was his best pitch with hitters batting .083.  With his stuff, he didn’t pitch well in his 26.1 innings.  His location was poor on both his fastball and change-up and they got hit frequently.  Plus, he walked too many – 6.5 BB/9.  It shows that there is still work to be done but with his size and arsenal, once he’s able to repeat his delivery consistently, he has what it takes to pitch at the top of the rotation with high strikeout rates.

2. Khalil Watson (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS
  • Tools Summary: Exciting tools with a feel to hit.  If he were four inches taller, he might have been a Top 3 pick last June

Grabbing Khalil Watson with the 16th pick last June might have been the steal of the draft.  Why the 18-year-old shortstop fell that far was perplexing as there is just a lot to like.  He’s athletic, a plus runner, and is direct to the ball with the potential for solid future power.  Perhaps, it was his size.  You see, he’s only 5-foot-9 and many teams like to have size at every position.  Just ask the Yankees.  Asking for a friend…didn’t Jose Altuve win an MVP?  Want more??  It was only nine games in the Complex League but he slashed .394/.524/.606 walking more than he struck out.

3. Max Meyer (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: Impressive 2021 season showed the upside.  He has two double-plus pitches in his fastball and slider with an improving change-up.  It’s all there to pitch at the top of the rotation

Max Meyer finally got his first taste of professional baseball in 2021 and he didn’t disappoint. In 20 starts in Double-A, he pitched to a 2.41 ERA striking out 113 and walking 40 in 101 innings.  Most impressively, he only had one bad start (3 IP with 4 ER).  Otherwise, he was very consistent.  He has two double-plus pitches in a fastball that sits 96 to 97 MPH and a hard, wipe-out slider.  The change-up is not there yet but improved as the season wore on.  He’s another impressive pitching talent for the Marlins, highlighting that if they can just get some offense, they could be a force.

4. Eury Perez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: Big pop-up player who dominated Low and High-A at 18-years-old

Eury Perez shoved it in 2021!  In 20 starts across Low and High-A, he pitched to a 1.96 ERA, striking out 12.5 per nine and walking three per nine.  Not impressed?  He turned 18 just before the season started.  It’s easy velocity (93 to 95 MPH and touching higher).  His slider and change-up are inconsistent but it’s easy to project both as average if not better pitches.  Oh, and he’s 6-foot-8 and thin.  So, as he fill-out, you can project more velocity.  Plus, given his height and high three-quarters delivery, he’s going to be very difficult to square.  The upside is significant and he’s being pushed hard by an organization that knows pitching.  Consequently, it’s easy to get excited.

5. Sixto Sanchez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: Did not pitch in 2021 with a shoulder injury.  He has the 80-grade fastball but needs to improve his secondary pitches to pitch consistently at the top of the rotation

Sanchez missed the entire 2021 season with a tear in his posterior capsule in his right shoulder.  Hopefully, he will come back healthy in 2022 and continue with the excitement he showed in his Major League debut in 2020.  I don’t see him quite at the level of Cabrera as he doesn’t have the same secondary pitches.  However, teammates share and if Sanchez can learn that change-up, then the calculus can change.  But first, he needs to prove he’s healthy and that starts with consistent innings.

6. JJ Bleday (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: A down season but he has strong on-base skills with a chance to hit with some power

JJ Bleday had a down season slashing .212/.323/.373 with 12 home runs, a 22% K/9 rate, and a 14% BB/9.  There were concerns when he was drafted that a definitive hitch in his swing would make it difficult for him to get to his power.  The good news is the swing looks better, but it’s not translating yet.  Despite his poor season, I do think he’ll hit with high OBP skills.  He did have a .250 BABIP which put pressure on his batting average.  BUT, low BABIPs in the minor leagues more often point to a lack of striking the ball hard.  He’s still a work-in-progress but the ceiling is a .260/.350/.425 player with 20 home runs.  While not a star, that’s a pretty useful player.

7. Jake Eder (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: He was having an outstanding year until he blew out his elbow in mid-August

Jake Eder was having one of the more impressive seasons in the minor leagues until he blew out his elbow in mid-August.  Unfortunately, he will miss the entire 2022 season recovering from TJS.  But, he showed enough in his 15 starts in Double-A to get excited.  He pitched to 1.77 ERA striking out over 12 per nine and walking 3.4 per nine.  The arsenal backed up the stats as he can touch the mid-90s with his fastball with a plus, if not double-plus curveball.  The change-up is his third pitch but it’s good enough to keep glove-side batters honest. 

8. Dax Fulton (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: Impressive season for the 6-foot-6 lefty.  He showed a plus fastball with good spin and the promise of plus curveball

Fulton was the Marlins second-round pick in 2020 and got his first taste of professional ball in 2021.  He pitched well across Low and High-A showing a low to mid-90s fastball with solid spin while flashing a plus curveball.  The control was not always there but this was his first competitive activity since having Tommy John Surgery in 2019 so, understandably, rust would be evident.  Plus, as a high school pitcher coming off Major surgery, you can argue that his assignment to Low-A to begin the season was extremely aggressive.  Finally, at 6-foot-6, he’s got the size you want in a starter.  If it all comes together, there is number three starter, maybe more.

9. Peyton Burdick (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Demonstrated his plus power in Double-A but also struck out 30% of the time.  He could be a three true-outcome player

In his 2019 debut, Peyton Burdick showed good contact rates while showing off the promise of his 70-grade power.  He was promoted to Double-A to begin 2021 and while he continued to show his plus power (20 home runs and a .464 SLG), the strikeout rate also increased to 30%.  He walked a lot, so he was able to post a .375 OBP.  So, the upside is 30 home runs, a few stolen bases but he could also hit .230 but with a decent OBP.  In OBP leagues, that’s fine, but in batting average leagues, just understand the risk.  

10. Nasim Nunez (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: Plus speed with a feel to hit but needs to get stronger to have a career with longevity

Nasim Nunez has played in 103 minor league games since being drafted in 2019 and is slugging .251 with no home runs.  Now on the positive, he’s stolen 61 bases including 33 this year in 52 games in Low-A.   He’s also walked nearly as much as he struck out and has kept his strikeout rate to 20%. But, at 5-foot-9 and 158 pounds, he’s just a little guy and needs to get stronger.  A .251 SLG is not going to cut it.  But, guys get bigger and stronger, so we shouldn’t give up Nunez yet.  He’s a good defender with plus speed and a solid approach, so there is a good core in which to develop.  However, if he doesn’t get stronger, he’s an extra player.

11. Connor Scott (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: He’s been slow to develop but the chance for 20 plus home runs still exist

I’ve been bullish on Connor Scott since the Marlins drafted him in the first round in 2018.  Candidly, he’s been slow to develop; although you can argue he was one of the players hurt most by the missed 2020 season.  He spent all of 2021 in High-A and held his own.  He slashed .276/.333/.446 with a 21% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate.  He’s still a solid-average runner, but the power has yet to take a step forward.   There’s plenty of bat speed and he’s starting to fill out, so I think the power will come.  I don’t see a 20-20 player as I do believe the speed will reduce as he adds strength.  But, he could hit 20 home runs annually with a .260 batting average and 5 to 10 stolen bases.  That’s not a star, but a solid #4 outfielder.

12. Kameron Misner (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: Good defender with speed.  He’s trying to add leverage to his swing to add more power but the success so far is uneven at best

Kameron Misner, the Marlins 2018 supplemental first-round has intriguing fantasy tools, but I’m not sure he’s going to hit enough to be more than a fourth outfielder.  He’s a good defender with plus speed, but he added leverage to his swing and his strikeout rate increased to an unsustainable 30%.  He did slug .424 with 11 home runs in High-A which is an improvement.  But, transitions are tough. Let’s see if can find the right balance to eventually have a Major League career.

13. Joe Mack (C)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: Well thought of catching prospect at the draft table that while talented, needs a lot of development time

Mack was drafted in the supplemental first round last June and was considered one of the best prep catchers in the draft.  Defensively, there is plenty of athleticism to be a solid receive with an above-average arm.  Offensively, he has solid bat speed with a semblance of an approach.  In the Complex League, he only hit .132 but walked nearly as much as he struck out.   For Dynasty Leagues, he has a long way to go and therefore, should only be monitored at this point.

14. Jose Salas (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Plus speed but needs to get stronger.  He’s only 18 and needs time to develop

Jose Salas split his time between the Complex League and Low-A and held his own.  In 55 games, he slashed .305/.391/.405 with 14 stolen bases and two home runs.  He does have plus speed but needs to get stronger. There’s plenty of bat speed, so you can project some power in the future.  There are tools, but he’s only 18-years-old and needs a lot of development.

15. Monte Harrison (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF but likely won’t make it
  • Tools Summary: Crazy tools but can’t hit

You can argue that Harrison shouldn’t be on this list.  He’s 26 with a couple of kicks at the can and hasn’t done it yet.  But, the tools are still crazy good.  He’s a plus runner with big raw power and bat speed. He can also run it down in the outfield.  But, he can’t hit.  He chases everything and wound up striking out 40% of the time last season.  He likely won’t make it, but you keep hoping he figures it out.  Because if he does…watch out.