2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Relief Pitching Pt. 1

It’s no secret that the Miami Marlins bullpen has struggled to hold down leads for the Fish this season, contributing to 4 of the Marlins 14 losses, and is armed with just three relievers with a FIP below 3.00. As of this moment, the only bright spots in the Marlins major league pen are A.J. Ramos, Sam Dyson and Nick Masset. The brightest spot of them all so far, is of course, A.J. Ramos. He has thrown well so far posting a 1.65 FIP while stranding 84.6% of runners on base in 15 innings pitched, continuing to pound the strike zone with his three main pitches – Fastball, Slider and Change-Up. He has also brought back his Cutter, which hasn’t been seen in his repertoire since 2012. If Steve Cishek continues to struggle in the closer role, look for Ramos to have his name called again this season to step up and close out wins for the Marlins.

With that said, the Fish have built their major league bullpen around their farm system since the disastrous season in 2012, which leaves us scouring the Miami Marlins minor league farm system in search of the prospect with the “Next man up mentality”.

Before diving into the hidden gems in the lower levels of the Marlins farm system, it’s important to note that names like Carter Capps, Matt Ramsey and Andre Rienzo are all listed in the bullpen for Triple-A New Orleans. These are the four-A bullpen guys for the Marlins that add quick fill in value if someone goes down in the major league pen. At Double-A Jacksonville though, the Best of the Rest really start to shine – as we look at the Best reliever prospects pitching in the Marlins minor league system in 2015.

Best of the Rest

Blake Logan

Almost a complete unknown in the Marlins baseball community, Logan stands to make a name for himself this season. Drafted in the 2012 MLB draft (13th round) out of Eastern Oklahoma State Junior College, Logan – standing at 6’1 225 lbs. – dominated at the junior college ranks, posting a 11-2 record as a starter with a 1.55 earned run average and 124 strikeouts in 93 innings pitch. These statistics had him set to be the ace at Wichita State the following season, had the Marlins not drafted him that year.

In his first season of professional ball Logan seemed to pick up right where he left off in college – going 1-2 (W/L) with a 2.56 FIP and 29 strike outs in 31 innings pitched as a starter for the Batavia Muckdogs. Unfortunately though, things fell apart for Logan in his first full season of pro ball in 2013 as made the transition from starter to reliever at Low-A Greensboro. He finished that season with a 4.61 FIP – with opposing hitters registering a .333 BABIP against him at the plate. Control seemed to be the issue as he walked 20 total hitters and hit 8 in that same season.

Looking to rebound in 2014, Logan started off the season at Low-A Greensboro where his struggles continued out of the pen – recording a 5.42 FIP in 13.1 innings pitched before he was promoted to High-A Jupiter. This promotion seems to have rejuvenated his minor league career – Logan was finally able to find his footing out of the pen. His stint with the Hammerheads was outstanding, as he out pitched his 3.45 ERA, registering a FIP of 2.51 and 41 strike outs in 44.1 innings pitched while only walking nine. These statistics warranted the end of year promotion to Double-A Jacksonville, where the buff right handed hurler managed to dominate the opposition. Armed with a knee painting mid-90’s fastball, mop-up slider and above-average change-up, Logan out pitched his 1.73 FIP by posting a 0.00 ERA with one walk and a .636 WHIP after facing 40 hitters over 11 innings. This was the icing on the cake to a great 2014 campaign for Blake Logan – moving through three levels of the Marlins farm system, while placing himself on the fast track to the big leagues with the kind of impressive stats listed below:

Blake Logan

Logan has started this season with Double-A Jacksonville and has looked to continue the same kind of success seen from him in 2014. Unfortunately though, up to this point, Logan has post a 4.82 FIP and has given up 2 home runs in six appearances. This stat should drop as he receives more seasoning at the Double-A level, making him a top candidate to watch out of the bullpen in the Marlins’ minor league system this season.

Luis Castillo

Acquired by the Miami Marlins this off-season in a trade for Casey McGehee from the San Francisco Giants, the 6’2″ 170 lbs. string bean Castillo brings the same kind of electric arm as trade mate prospect Kendry Flores. With a Fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, Castillo put himself on the map with the Giants rookie ball affiliate in 2013, recording 20 saves in 27 appearances with a 1.12 FIP and 34 strikeouts. He kept hitter’s bats at bay- posting a .221 BABIP and 3 walks after facing 106 batters at the end of his 2013 campaign. All this just 2 years after signing a free agent contract with the Giants out of Bani, Peravia, Dominican Republic.

After his 2013 performance, Castillo was promoted to Low-A Augusta in the Giants farm system – where he flashed signs of becoming a shutdown closer in the big leagues, posting a 2-2 record with 10.13 strike outs per nine innings pitched, and a FIP of 4.00 over 58.2 innings pitched – as shown in his statistics below:

Luis Castillo

At the age of 22, Castillo still has a lot of seasoning ahead of him before making the leap to the Marlins major league pen. So far though, the Marlins front office like what they see from this potential future closer. The hope is that he will continue to add body mass and durability to his wiry frame. Castillo is off to a good start this season at Low-A Greensboro. He has collected 2 saves in 8 appearances while striking out 15 over 13.1 innings pitched, as well as flashing his advanced control walking .66% per nine innings pitched – which is down from his 3.84% in 2014.

If Luis Castillo can continue to make improvements as he moves up the ranks of the Marlins minor league system, the 22-year old righty could find himself on the fast track to the Marlins big league roster if we continue to see veterans and four-A call-ups struggle.

Other notable relievers to watch:

Sean Donatello/6-foot-2  205 lbs./Drafted by the Marlins at the age of 20 years-old in 2011 (25th round) out of the University Connecticut – Avery Point.
Steven Farnworth/6-foot-2  108 lbs./Drafted by the Marlins at the age of 20 years-old  in 2014 (23rd round) out of Cal Poly Pomona University.
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