Miami Marlins

The Marlins continue to have a high-risk, high-reward system.  Eury Perez is the top prospect and is one of the highest upside pitchers in the minor leagues.  He’s also only 19, and the risk of injury is always high.  To that point, he missed time last season with a shoulder issue.  Max Meyer and Jake Eder could pitch at the top of the rotation, but both are recovering from TJS.  Sixto Sanchez can throw 100 MPH but hasn’t pitched because of injuries.  The same risk is with the hitter.  Khalil Watson is toolsy but struggled to make contact last season.  Peyton Burdick is similar.  It’s just the way the Marlins roll.  Or is it…

In 2022, they drafted Jacob Berry and acquired Jordan Groshans in a trade.  Neither are what you would call toolsy, and both can hit.  Is this a change in philosophy or just happenstance that caused them to be members of the Marlins?  I hope it was planned, as the Marlins need on-base oriented player to complement their existing high upside but high-strikeout players.  Together they can complement their excellent young pitching corp, which could lead to winning baseball.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Eury Perez
  • Biggest Mover: Jose Salas
  • Emerging Prospect: Jose Gerardo

1. Eury Perez (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Fantasy Ace
  • Tools Summary: He has the size, current arsenal, and projection to become one of the best pitchers in baseball.

After his 2021 breakout season, I wondered what Eury Perez would do for an encore.  While I wish it would have been an appearance in the big leagues, arm fatigue and a shoulder issue limited him to 75 innings in Double-A.  He showed flashes of the pitcher he may become – like his six innings, ten strikeouts, and no walk performance in July against the Braves Double-A affiliate.  Fortunately, he did return at the end of September, and while he didn’t pitch all that effectively, he appeared to be healthy.  For those expecting a straight line of success to the Majors, remember that he’s only 19 and, at his height (6-foot-8), there will be struggles for him to repeat his delivery.  But, it’s all there for him to follow behind Sandy Alcantara and provide an impressive 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

2. Max Meyer (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP with risk
  • Tools Summary: His season ended early after needing TJS after his second Major League start

Max Meyer’s season ended abruptly when pitching in his second Major League start; he blew out his elbow that required Tommy John Surgery.  He missed the rest of the season and will likely miss the 2023 season.  It was a tough blow for the 23-year-old right-hander, but before getting hurt, he flashed the stuff that made him the third overall pick in the 2020 Draft.  He has three quality pitches in his fastball, slider, and change-up, with his fastball sitting 95 MPH with a high spin rate.  Assuming he returns healthy, the ceiling remains a number two starter.

3. Jacob Berry (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has a chance to be a plus hitter with high OBP skills, but there are questions about how much power he will have.  There is no speed.

Last July, Jacob Berry was the Marlins’ first-round pick (pick #6).  He’s a hit-first outfielder that should also be able to pop 15 to 20 home runs.  He’s a 40 runner, so speed will not be part of the profile.  He’s challenged defensively, and given his lack of athleticism, he’ll likely be limited to first base or left field.  Both positions will require his bat to play. 

I’m torn.  On the one hand, the Marlins finally drafted a player that can hit.  But from a fantasy standpoint, the tools are not exciting. Maybe if he can pop 25+ home runs, then he becomes relevant.  But, given his current swing plane, I don’t see that.  The upside is a Top 50 outfielder with high OBP skills and 15 to 20 home run pop.

4. Khalil Watson (SS)

  • Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS if he hits enough
  • Tools Summary: There are plenty of tools, but his size and poor approach is becoming a concern.

It was a challenging year for Khalil Watson.  The Marlins’ first pick in 2021 (pick 16) looked overmatched at times in Low-A, batting .231 with a 36% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate.  Additionally, he missed time in July due to disciplinary reasons that added to concern for fans and fantasy managers.  He still has the exciting tools with plus speed and plenty of bat speed, but his size and aggressive approach at the plate are reasons to be concerned.  Now the optimist will say that he played much better over the last month of the season, and that does give hope that he’s starting to figure things out.  Let’s hope that’s the case.  While concerned, I’m holding onto Watson in Dynasty Leagues.  The loud tools are too alluring, and remember, he just turned 19 in April.

5. Jose Salas (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 SS or Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: An intriguing prospect with plenty of raw power and speed early in his career.

The Marlins assigned 19-year-old Jose Salas to Low-A to begin the 2022 season; after three months, they had seen enough.  In 61 games, he slashed .267/.355/.421 with five home runs and 15 stolen bases.  Those are not eye-popping stats, but he looked ready, considering his age, approach, and strikeout rate.  He’s a switch hitter with more pop from the left side, but his bat speed points to at least 20 to 25 home runs pop.  He’s currently an above-average runner and should be able to steal double-digit bases early in his career.  There’s a lot to like and a player currently under the radar in most Dynasty Leagues.

6. Jake Eder (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: He spent 2022 recovering from TJS.  When healthy, he has an arsenal that could make him a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.

Jake Eder spent 2022 recovering from TJS and has been throwing off the mound this fall.  Before he went down, he looked great in Double-A, showing a mid-90s fastball, a plus curveball, and a feel for a change-up.  If he returns healthy, the upside remains a number three starter, perhaps more if his control can take another step forward. 

7. Jordan Groshans (3B)

  • Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 3B with upside
  • Tools Summary: He makes excellent contact and will walk nearly as much as he strikes out.  However, his power is more doubles-oriented, and there is little speed.

With the acquisition of Jordan Groshans in a deadline trade and the selection of Jacob Berry, the Marlins may finally have realized that you can’t create a lineup of toolsy guys who can’t hit.  Groshans can hit, but his power is more doubles-oriented, and speed has never been part of his game.  If that profile was at second base, it might be more exciting, but at third, there are questions if the bat will be enough.  But I think he gets full-time playing time because the Marlins need players like him in the lineup.  He could hit the top third of the lineup, giving him more opportunities to score runs.  The ceiling is a Top 20 third baseman but one that could provide sneaky value in runs and batting average.

8. Yiddi Cappe (SS)

  • Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: He has gotten stronger since signing, and his offensive game is starting to blossom.

The Marlins signed Yiddi Cappe in 2021 for a $3.5 million signing bonus.  Most evaluators believed he would excel defensively but needed to get stronger to evaluate his offensive upside better.  Spin forward two years, and he’s physically stronger, and his offensive game is starting to round into shape.  In 67 games across the FCL and Low-A, he slashed .290/.328/.438 with nine home runs and 13 stolen bases.  He made great contact (14% K-Rate) but was very aggressive, swinging at everything (5% BB-Rate).  He’s an intriguing prospect with a chance to hit 20 home runs and steal double-digit bases early in his career.

9. Peyton Burdick (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing power and speed with plate patience.  He’ll strike out more than you want, but it could be enough to get full-time at-bats.

Peyton Burdick brings an intriguing power-speed combination to the game with enough contact to get full-time at-bats.  Plus, he walks a ton.  The power was down in Triple-A as he only slugged .419, but I’ve seen him enough to confidently put his raw power at least 65, maybe 70-grade.  He did get a month-long audition in the Major Leagues and was overwhelmed.  He struck out 36% of the time but hit a couple of home runs.  He’s 25, and it’s time the Marlins give him a shot.  If that happens, he might hit .240 but slug 25 to 30 home runs and steal 15 bags with a .320 or so OBP.  If you can put up with the batting average, that’s not a bad player.

10. Dax Fulton (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: He has excellent size with an arsenal that should allow him to be a mid-rotation starter.  He is 6-foot-7, so his control isn’t always consistent.

Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Dax Fulton was able to pitch to a full workload in 2022.  His fastball velocity is now sitting 93 to 94 MPH, and his secondary pitches have gotten sharper.  While he only walked a tad over three per nine, he doesn’t always throw strikes, and location can become a problem.  It’s understandable, given his 6-foot-7 frame, and that will likely be his most significant stumbling block to hitting his ceiling of a number three starter.  The Marlins are excellent at getting the most out of their pitchers, so I remain bullish on his upside.

11. Jacob Miller (RHP)

  • Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: High school draftee with a plus arsenal but effort in his delivery.

The Marlins selected high school right-hander Jacob Miller in the second round last July.  His fastball sits 94 to 95, and he shows an ability to spin a curve.  His delivery requires effort, and given his 6-foot-2 frame; he might work better as a bullpen arm.  But the Marlins are good at this and will develop him as a starter with the building blocks to be a number three starter.

12. Sixto Sanchez (RHP)

  • Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023? Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Closer
  • Tools Summary: He continues to recover from his shoulder woes and hasn’t pitched competitively in two years.  Yes, it’s concerning…

Believe it or not, Sixto Sanchez is still prospect-eligible.  Sure, he hasn’t pitched in two years and just turned 24, but before his shoulder problems, he threw 100 MPH and pitched well in the Major Leagues.  Where should he be ranked?  Should he even be ranked?  These are both excellent questions and ones with no definitive answer.  I’ve decided to rank him for the above reasons, but I understand if you believe it’s too high or too low.

13. Ian Lewis (2B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 2B
  • Tools Summary: He greatly understands the strike zone with speed and enough bat speed to project some future power.

Ian Lewis is an intriguing player that needs to be monitored.  He’s a hit-first second baseman who controls the strike zone well with a simple swing that is short to the ball.  He’s got above-average speed and enough bat speed to eventually hit for power.  He does need to get stronger as he hit too many balls into the ground in his time in Low-A last season.  But the foundation is there for a full-time regular.

14. Joe Mack (C)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 20 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: He controls the strike zone well, and there’s enough bat speed to suggest some future power.

Joe Mack’s season wasn’t great in Low-A, where he slashed .231/.382/.355 in 35 games.  He did miss a lot of time with a hamstring injury, and once he returned, he never got going.  What he did well was get on base (19% BB-Rate).  There’s plenty of bat speed to project future power, and if he can keep his strikeouts under control, he’s good enough defensively to be a full-time catcher.

15. Jose Gerardo (OF)

  • Highest Level: DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: 17-year-old that got off to a hot start in the Dominican Summer League.

Signed in January of 2021, the Marlins wasted little time getting Jose Gerardo into the Dominican Summer League games, and he didn’t disappoint.  In 50 games, he showed power and speed with a feel to hit in slashing .284/.417/.551 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases.  He did strike out at a 29% rate, but he only turned 17 in June.  There’s plenty of athleticism and power potential here, and if you are in a deep Dynasty Leagues, there are the kind of high-risk-reward players you might want to consider rostering.

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