Miami Marlins

Original Published Date: November 15, 2016

marlinsAs happenstance would have it, I’m writing this on Sunday, September 25, the day that Jose Fernandez tragically died.  Nobody should die at 24-years-old, nobody…it’s just too young.  But as the Cardinals found out two years ago when they loss Oscar Tavares, the Marlins will soon see the implications that the loss of Fernandez will have on their organization.

You need an ace to compete in baseball and the Marlins had that with Fernandez.  Unfortunately, there is nobody in their organization that comes close to his talent.  Their system is good, but not great…a bottom ten system in baseball.

The best two prospects are 2016 first round pick Braxton Garrett and Luis Castillo; the player that was traded in the Andrew Cashner/Colin Rea trade but was returned when the Padres were not truthful about the health of Rea, who then promptly blew out his elbow and needed TJ Surgery.  Castillo is a tremendous talent and while the trade also included Josh Naylor, Castillo was indeed the better prospect and is why the Marlins wanted him back.

After Garrett and Castillo, the prospect landscape thins out quickly.  Another name with a big pedigree is Tyler Kolek, but he’s recovering from TJ Surgery and his stuff was not the same after he turned pro.  Jarlin Garcia has pitched effectively, but is more command and control over stuff.   Brian Anderson is their best positional player with plus raw power and a feel to hit.  The raw power has yet to translate into in-game power, but if it does, he could be a solid future regular at third or second.

The landscape has changed in Miami and after the emotion fads the Marlins will have to figure their next step.  They can’t stay pat as without a top-of-the-rotation arm, they are just not good enough to be a championship caliber team.  It’s clearly a tough spot.

Luis Castillo (RHP)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP

Luis Castillo was involved in one of the more bizarre trades in recent history.  He was traded along with Josh Naylor to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea.  However, when Rea blew out his elbow in his first inning with his new team, the Marlins complained and the Padres quickly returned Castillo back to the Marlins.  Later we found out why.  It appeared that the Padres had two medical books: one for them and one for consumption by other clubs.  That just isn’t permitted and ultimately, the league suspended General Manager A.J. Preller for 30 days because of the infraction.

Castillo spent most of his time in the Florida State League last season, posting an impressive 2.07 ERA in 21 starts with a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.  While the strikeout rate was just shy of eight, he only walked 18 in 117.2 innings.  The Marlins promoted him to Double-A in August and in three games, he posted a 3.86 ERA.

Scouting Report:  Castillo started his career as a reliever in the Giants organization but the Marlins moved him to the rotation in 2015 and he took off.  He has premium stuff with a fastball that can bump triple-digits and a slider with a nasty two-plane break.  He also shows a feel for a change-up.  What improved this year was his ability to throw strikes.  He repeated his mechanics much better and the results were impressive.

Assuming he stays healthy, and sometimes converted relievers don’t, he has the ceiling of a number two starter.  He should begin 2017 back in Double-A with a chance to see Triple-A, or even the majors later in the year.

Fantasy Impact: Castillo is a name that Dynasty League owners need to know.  He’s not owned in a lot of leagues, but could sneak into our Top 100 list.  There’s a lot to like including a high strikeout rate potential, a better than league-average ground-ball rate and good ratios.

Braxton Garrett (LHP)

Highest Level: DNP, ETA: 2020, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP

The Marlins landed Braxton Garrett with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.  He has a ton of upside but is also only 19-years-old and has yet to throw a pitch in professional ball.  The Marlins elected to hold him out of competitive play to build up his arm strength.  He did pitch in the Fall Instructional League and should be good to go for 2017.

The Marlins could hold him back to begin the season and start him in the GCL or Appy League.  However, I think they would be better served to start him in Greensboro of the Sally League given his draft pedigree and feel for pitching.

Scouting Report: 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: Garrett should make our top 100 list.  If he does, then he might be a mainstay for a while; ala Robert Stephenson.  It’s going to take him at least three years of development before he gets a chance to sniff the big leagues.  If you can be patient, the upside is a Top 30 starting pitcher.

Brian Anderson (3B)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Corner Infielder

Brian Anderson had a very nice season, splitting time between High and Double-A.  The final stat line only showed a .737 OPS but it came with an 80% contact rate and a 10.5% walk rate.  Blessed with plus raw power, it’s currently five o’clock power and has yet to translate into in-game power.  However, based on his swing mechanics and physicality, I believe he’ll eventually hit for 20 plus home run power.

Scouting Report:  There’s a lot to like with Brian Anderson.  The swing is solid with good bat speed and he is has enough physicality to project average, if not more power.  The raw power has yet to translate into in-game power, but I think it will.  He makes good contact (80%) and showed good plate discipline as he walked 10.5% of the time he came to the plate.  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.

Defensively, he played both third and second last season but could also profile in a corner outfield spot.  Given the need at the big league level, third is the obvious place where he could break-in.  The Marlins will likely start Anderson at Triple-A to begin the 2017 season with a chance to see Miami later in the season.

Fantasy Impact:  Brian Anderson has the skills to post a .260 batting average with a possibility of 15 to 20 home runs.  That should make him a serviceable corner infielder on a fantasy team or a third base option in deeper leagues.

Jarlin Garcia (LHP)

Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP

Jarlin Garcia spent a lot of time on the disabled list this past season after triceps tightness forced him to the shelf at the end of May.  He finally returned in August but the Marlins put him on a pitch count to ease him back into games.

To make up for lost time, he pitched in the Arizona Fall league and performed well.

Scouting Report: Garcia has good stuff with his fastball bumping 95 MPH at the AFL.  It had enough late movement to produce some swings and misses.  He throws a slider and curve ball with his curve ball superior to his slider.  I only saw a handful of change-up and the pitch needed work.  It was thrown with good speed, but didn’t have great deception.

Garcia’s delivery does still need some work.  It’s very “army” with little power generated from his legs.  I would like to see some more extension and more incorporation of his lower half.  This could move his velocity up a tick as well as increase his movement on his pitches.

Fantasy Impact: Garcia is an intriguing prospect.  He throws hard with good secondary pitches and most importantly, he throws strikes.  Plus, the Marlins have a great pitchers park and that should only move his fantasy value up.  The upside is a top 60 starting fantasy pitcher with seven to eight strikeouts per nine.

Tyler Kolek (RHP)

Highest Level: DNP, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP

Tyler Kolek was the number two overall player taken in the 2014 MLB Draft.  After a less than stellar first year, he injured his arm in spring training and had TJ Surgery in early April and was lost for the season.  It’s the risk of taking a high school arm that early in a draft.  There is so much development needed and the window is just wide for injury.

Adding insult to injury, Carlos Rodon (3), Kyle Schwarber (4), Aaron Nola (7), Michael Conforto (10), and Trea Turner (13) were all drafted after Kolek and have already made significant contributions in the majors.  Sure, the Astros drafted Brady Aiken that year with the number one overall pick, so the Marlins are not alone.  But, now you understand why high school pitchers fell in last year’s MLB draft, even when that was the strength of the draft.

Assuming he comes back healthy, Kolek should restart his career in 2017.  Here’s what we wrote about him last year.

Scouting Report:  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 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 change up.  He did strikeout 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’ve put a back of the rotation ceiling on Tyler – a number five or six starting pitching on your fantasy team.  Is that low?  Too high?  I honestly don’t know, but there is a lot of hair on this one.  If you have less than 300 minor league players in your league, you should strongly consider dropping him.  If more, you might as well hang onto him to see what happens.

Austin Dean (OF)

Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Waiver Wire OF

Since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 MLB Draft, Austin Dean has been taking the minor leagues one level a year.  This past season, he spent the entire season in Jacksonville of the Southern League.

He played okay, posting a .682 OPS while slugging a disappointing .375.  He has plus raw power, but it’s currently only showing during batting practice as his 11 total home runs shows.  In fact, in 475 games, he only has hit 30 bombs, yet the Marlins believe the power will eventually develop.

Scouting Report: Dean has a quick and compact swing with plenty of bat speed.  His current swing mechanics point to more doubles power than over-the-fence power, but he has enough physicality to eventually change that.  Dean has average foot speed but only attempted three stolen bases, being successful twice.

Dean’s contact rate has improved since he was drafted as has his ability to control the strike zone.  The upside is 15 to 18 home runs with a .270 batting average and a .320 on-base percentage.

Fantasy Impact: The Marlins continue to be high on Dean and believe that he will eventually develop power.  I’m just not sure.  I like the swing but still think it will generate more doubles than home runs.  Without any other fantasy skills, I just don’t think he’ll be more than a waiver wire fill-in for fantasy leagues.

Thomas Jones (OF)

Highest Level: Rookie, ETA: 2021-22, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 OF with extreme risk

The Marlins went with all upside when they drafted Thomas Jones in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft.  He was one of the top athletes in the entire draft and the Marlins needed to go well over slot to convince him to bypass college and make a career out of baseball.

Jones spent the first month after being signed working out at the Marlins Jupiter complex before being deployed to the GCL.  In 19 games there, he batted .234 with a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and four stolen bases.  At this stage of his development, the Marlins just want him to make contact, learn to run the bases and work on his defensive chops.  Therefore, it’s going to be a while before he sees a full season affiliate, likely spending all of next year in short season ball.

Scouting Report:  Jones is a perfect candidate for our emerging prospect list but given his draft status and his insane athleticism, we’ve placed him in the Marlins primary list.  He’s the definition of sushi raw with double-plus speed, excellent bat speed and enough raw power to dream of him being a 20 home run power threat.  While the tools are significant, none of them are polished and the Marlins will move him slowly through the system.

Fantasy Impact: Some of you are salivated as you read this profile…double plus speed and the potential to hit 20 home runs, but Jones is a long way off from turning those tools into baseball skills.  Take any fantasy projection with a grain of salt but the ceiling is indeed impressive.  Just know there is a long way to go.

Kendry Flores (RHP)

Highest Level: Major, ETA: 2016, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 70 SP

Kendry Flores had a nice season in 2016 that included a spot start in May for the Miami Marlins when they went to Washington to face the Nationals.  He only lasted three innings and then exited game with a shoulder strain.  After a month on the DL, he was optioned to Triple-A.   He had a solid season, pitching to a 4.15 ERA, primarily pitching in the tough PCL.

Scouting Report:  Flores stuff has taken a step up over the past year with his fastball now sitting 92 to 94 MPH.  In his one outing in Miami, he was particularly amped as his four-seamer averaged 94 MPH.  His secondary pitches are average at best with his change-up being his best pitch.  All of his pitches do play up because he is able to pound the strike zone.

Flores turns 25 in November and should see a lot of time in the big leagues next year.  He has a chance to be at a minimal a middle reliever with an outside shot to be a fifth starter in the big leagues.

Fantasy Impact:  I would not be drafting Flores in a fantasy league just yet but his stuff has gotten better.  His breaking pitch still needs improvement but his fastball has taken a step up.

Stone Garrett (OF)

Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2019-20, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF

Stone Garrett might be best known for being the victim of a strange clubhouse prank gone awry by then Marlins first baseman, Josh Naylor.  While I’ve never seen specifics of the incident, Garrett suffered a knife wound to the hand and missed six weeks of development time.

The Marlins eventually traded Naylor (don’t know if it was related) and Garrett recovered and picked up his season in mid-August.  The stat line was not particularly good, batting .213 with a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and only six home runs.  He was a young 20 for the league and will likely need to repeat Low-A to begin 2017.

Scouting Report:  Garrett is a big strong kid at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds with plus raw power.  The swing can get long and therefore swing and miss will likely always be part of the equation.  However, his 64% contact rate in the lower minors is clearly a red flag and shows the amount of work in front of him.  He’s also an average runner with a chance to steal eight to ten bases a year.

The Marlins moved Garrett to left field and that will put even more pressure on his bat.  He has plus raw power but needs to cut down on the strikeouts and improve his pitch recognition skills in order to have his raw power translate in-game.

Fantasy Impact:  The missed time hurt Garrett last season, so he didn’t do much to improve his prospect stock.  We still find him intriguing for deep Dynasty League owners.  He has 20 future home run potential with the chance to steal eight to 10 stolen bases annually.  However, he needs to cut down on his strikeouts and continue to improve his approach.

Austin Brice (RHP)

Highest Level: Major, ETA: 2016, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 80 SP

A starter for his entire professional career, the Marlins moved Austin Brice to the bullpen in mid-June and the 6-foot-4 right-hander responded; all the way to the major leagues.  At first glance, it wasn’t particularly pretty in his 14 appearances where he posted a 5.54 ERA, but in looking under the covers, things look better.  In his 13 innings of work, he struck out over a batter an inning while walking five.  In fact, if it weren’t for a late blow up in New York, his stat line would have looked much better.

Have the Marlins decided to move Brice to the bullpen?  Perhaps, but he pitched well as a starter in Double-A before the move.  He had a 2.25 ERA with a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  It’s entirely possible that Brice starts 2017 back in Triple-A as a starter.

Scouting Report:  Brice’s fastball averaged 95.5 MPH in his brief tenure in the major leagues.  He did throw mostly two-seamers and that’s what led to his 54.5% ground ball rate.  He complements his heavy two-seamer with a nice 80 MPH curve ball and a slider that also got it’s share of swing and miss.  He does throw a change-up but he shelved it once he moved to the bullpen.  It’s a reasonable strategy as you don’t find many relievers with a four-pitch arsenal. In fact, many relievers simply throw a fastball and one off-speed pitch.

Brice has good stuff and the size to pitch at the highest level.  His control has improved as he’s gone through the development process and it was enough to pitch in relief.  Is he destined to be a middle reliever?  Probably, but I do think he gets a chance to start next year.

Fantasy Impact: Brice has the potential to be a number six starter on your fantasy team and an outside chance to be a closer if his move to the bullpen becomes permanent.  At this point, he should be monitored and not yet rostered on your Dynasty League team.

2017 Emerging Prospect

Roy Morales (C)

Drafted out of Puerto Rico in the 2014 MLB Draft, Roy Morales had a nice season for Greensboro in the Sally League.  He showed excellent control of the strike zone with a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.   He has enough bat speed and physicality to profile with at least average power, although to date, he’s only hit one home run in his professional career that spans 132 games.

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