Category Archives: 2015 Minor League Report

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Relief Pitchers Pt. 2

As top relief prospects Grant Dayton and Nick Wittgren continue to dominate at their respected levels in the Marlins minor league system, there are others looking to prove that they should be considered as the next arms to hold down wins out of the Marlins major league bullpen. So hold in your prospect drool as we breakdown the Best of the Rest in the Marlins minor league bullpens.

Best of the Rest

Colby Suggs

As I have stated before, in my article “The Enigma Prospect: Miami Marlins Colby Suggs,” Suggs dominated in his time at the University of Arkansas, never finishing a season with an ERA higher than 1.74. He earned his “Bulldog” nickname by continually boosting his career stat line as a Razorback, finishing with a 1.36 ERA to go along with 53 walks and 65 strikeouts in a total of 79.2 innings pitched over three seasons. This gave the Marlins strong reasons to select him with their 2nd round, supplemental 73rd overall pick in the 2013 Amateur draft.  After all, what’s not to like when you can have a right-hand reliever whose physical attributes place him around 6’0″ in spikes and 235 lbs. strong on the mound? This physicality, combined with his show time curveball, contributed to MLBPipeline experts ranking him as the Miami Marlins Organizational #10 prospect in 2014. Unfortunately, Colby Suggs scouted talent is yet to catch up with his hype when taking a look at his recent minor league stats below:

Colby Suggs

With the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in 2014, Suggs allowed 25 walks, six wild pitches and seven hit batsmen – while pitching 58 1/3 innings in 46 appearances. These statistics represent the same erratic tendencies on the mound that he showed in 2013 after signing with the Marlins and being promoted to High-A where he allowed 14 free passes in 18 1/3 innings, facing a total of 79 batters out of the pen.

Going forward, Suggs, who is ranked this year as the Marlins’ 17th-ranked organizational prospect by MLBPipeline.com, will need to find consistency in his mechanics and mental make-up. If he can master control of his devastating curveball the can be a force to be reckoned with, especially when paired with his above-average fastball that sits 93-95 on the gun. Honing in on these skills will help to put Colby Suggs back on the fast track to the big leagues, and make him one of the top relief prospects to watch in the Marlins minor league system this season.

Brian Ellington

Is Brian Ellington a possible fast track prospect in 2015? Ranked as the Marlins’ 21st-ranked organizational prospect by MLBPipeline.com at the age of 24, Ellington, who stands at 6’1″ 215 lbs, has the desired aggressive relief mentality that could land him in the big leagues in 2015. Drafted by the Marlins in 16th round of the 2012 June amateur draft, Ellington already possesses all the intangible traits you like to see in a reliever – high motor, aggressive and short memory. These traits have him ranked this high on the Best of the Rest list. These tangible traits include his major league ready fastball – that sits in the 92-95 MPH and max efforts at 98 MPH. Ellington’s above-average curveball has developed into his best off-speed pitch, which tends to be inconsistent more times than not, but is a better offering pitch than his average to below-average slider, change-up and developing splitter. These are average off-speed offerings that Ellington developed in 2013 while being promoted up the minor league ranks from rookie ball all the way up to Low-A Greensboro in the Marlins farm system. This repertoire of pitches helped him be successful in 2014, while putting him on the prospect fast track to start the 2015 season – statistics shown below:

Brian Ellington

It’s no secret that Ellington possesses the raw tools and arm strength to be a top tier reliever in the big leagues, especially when armed with more off-speed offerings than any other relief pitcher in the farm system. Like every prospect though, there is always a downside – and right now Ellington’s is his inconsistent command of the strike zone, which can be attributed to his lengthy delivery. This is something he will need to work on this season if he wants to see a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans. Looking at the stats above for 2015, if Ellington can continue to keep his walk rate down, which currently stands at 1.72 walks per nine innings pitched through 9 appearances, then we could see him develop into a late inning set-up guy at the major league level for the Marlins – making him a strong bullpen candidate to watch down on the farm this season.

Miguel Del Pozo

There’s a good chance that Del Pozo is the best lefty reliever in the Marlins minor league system. The 22 year-old , 6’1″ 185 lbs. left-handed reliever Del Pozo signed with the Miami Marlins in the summer of 2010 at the age of 16.  It wasn’t until the 2014 season though, that the Marlins front office finally got to take a good long look at the Santo Domingo, DR baseball product. After spending his first 2 seasons in the instructional rookie level leagues for the Marlins, Del Pozo got an opportunity to make a name for himself in 2013 – starting the year with the Marlins short-season affiliate the Bavatia Muckdogs. Pitching for the Muckdogs, Del Pozo out pitched his 4.81 ERA by posting a 3.14 FIP, while striking out 36 hitters and stranding 68.1% of runners on-base in just 24.1 innings pitched. These statistics combined with his low 90’s fastball and above-average curve-ball combination, sparked his seasons end promotion to High-A Jupiter – where he pitched just 2 innings and faced a total of 10 batters. Del Pozo carried his success from 2013 over to his first full season of minor league ball in 2014 for Low-A Greensboro, as seen in his statistics below:

Del Pozo

The only worry about Del Pozo’s game up to this point in his minor league career, was his walk rate issues in his first 3 seasons with the organization. This has improved since the 2013 season, helping to elevate his prospect ranking as reported by Under the Radar Minors blog:

“Del Pozo could be one of the first young relief pitchers to make the push to Miami. He has the ability to miss bats as he struck out 85 in 66 innings at Low-A Greensboro. One promising stat was his BB/9 rate which hovered around 6.o over his first 3 years as a pro, but was slimmed to 2.6 last season in 41 appearances. One area he needs to improve is holding runners from scoring, based on his career 4.71 ERA.”

Not only does this state that Del Pozo has made drastic improvements on the control front, but he is continuing to make a name for himself outside the Marlins front office. With Grant Dayton and Nick Wittgren in line at Triple-A in front of him to be the next relievers to hit the big leagues, Del Pozo will need to put together another strong statistical resume during his 2015 campaign in hopes of landing a spot in the Marlins bullpen behind front runners like Dayton and Wittgren.

Matt Milroy

Could Matt Milroy be a fast track prospect as a reliever? Drafted by the Miami Marlins out of the University of Illinois five rounds before previously named Brian Ellington in the 2012 MLB Draft, Milroy became the highest-drafted Illini pitcher since 2001. After finishing his junior season ranked ninth in the nation in strikeouts per innings pitched (10.98), and first in the Big Ten conference in opponent batting average (.207) and strikeouts (65) as a starter, it’s easy to see why the Marlins were so high on Milroy. Unfortunately, those statistics didn’t translate over to his first appearance in pro ball with the Bavatia Muckdogs – posting a 5.04 FIP while walking 23 and striking out 30 over 35 innings pitched, making eight appearances out of his nine total as a starter. Even with his pure stuff on the mound, Milroy struggles continued in his first full season of pro ball at Low-A Greensboro in 2013, finishing the season with a 5.49 ERA and 4.44 FIP while walking 5.18 per nine innings pitched with 59 strikeouts in 57.1 innings pitched – only making nine starts out of his 17 appearances. In 2014 though (his second full season), things started clicking for Milroy – shown in his statistics below:

Matt Milroy

Milroy made huge strides in 2014, splitting his time starting and relieving out of the Grasshoppers bullpen. He registered 12.36 strikeouts per nine innings pitched and dropped his astounding 5.18 walk rate from the previous season – down to 3.27 before being promoted to High-A Jupiter. This promotion featured Milroy as a starter out of the pen and brought back images of his erratic control problems- he finished his High-A campaign in 2014 with a 6.84 walk rate and minor league career low 6.66 strikes out per nine innings pitched over 50 innings.

With all his struggles with control as a starter, Milroy seems to be slowly finding a place as a fast track prospect out of the bullpen. With a low 90’s fastball that can touch 95 MPH on occasion and a wicked late-breaking mid 80’s slider, pitching out of the pen would certainly allow his pitches to play up – as seen in his 2015 stat line above. It will also allow Milroy to develop his change-up into an above-average third offering, while continuing to be successful with his fastball-slider combination in late in relief without any setbacks.

It’s still too early to tell whether Milroy will end up as a starter or reliever by the time he makes the big league roster, but the 6’2″ 190 lbs. right-hander has the pure stuff and mound moxie to create a lot of swings and misses if he can continue to harness his control issues.

Other notable relief pitchers to watch:

Josh Hodges/6-foot-7 235 lbs./Drafted by the Marlins in 2009 (11th round) out of Ingomar Attendance Center High School in New Albany, MS.
Esmerling De La Rosa/6-foot-2 202 lbs./Signed with the Marlins in June 2009 out of Santo Domingo, DR.
Nick White/6-foot-3 205 lbs./Drafted by the Marlins in 2014 (11th round) out of Berryhill High School in Tulsa, OK.
Kyle Porter/6-foot-2 205 lbs./Drafted by the Marlins in 2014 (31st round) out of the University of California.
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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.

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Outfield Pt. 2

As I mentioned last week in Pt. I of the 2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth at the outfield position, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are set in stone as members of the Marlins outfield for the future. Four-A players provide the supporting cast as they roam the gaps at Triple-A New Orleans – Brady Shoemaker, Austin Wates , Cole Gillespie and the versatile Jordany Valdespin.  These players don’t help predict how bright the Marlins future truly is, but they do provide fill in value at the Major league level to keep the team competitive for the 2015 season.

Austin Dean and Isael Soto were highlighted in last week’s article as two of the best top prospects in the Miami Marlins minor league system playing the outfield position. Dean and Soto aren’t the only two outfield prospects that deserve mention – so, as I alluded to last week in my article, here are the Best of the Rest down on the farm for the Fish at the outfield position.

Best of the Rest

Casey Soltis

Drafted in last year’s MLB Amateur draft in the 5th round by the Miami Marlins, the left-handed hitting, 6’1″ 185 lbs. Casey Soltis from Granada, California astounded Marlins minor league management in his first season of pro ball in the Gulf Coast League – hitting a .364 BABIP in 138 plate appearances, as shown in his statistics below:

Casey Soltis

Before being drafted by the Marlins in 2014, Soltis was a two sport star at Granada High School – playing both football and baseball his senior year. On the diamond that season, Soltis hit for a .353 average at the plate with 16 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases, as well as four home runs and 9 triples. These statistics were the reason he was the first outfielder selected by the Marlins in the 2014 MLB draft, and why Marlins VP of scouting Stan Meek spoke so highly of his potential:

“It’s a good swing, it’s a good strong athletic body and we felt like, as an outfielder, we think he’s gonna hit,” said Stan Meek, vice president of scouting for the Marlins. “I think the question is how much power we’re gonna get.”

Listed as the Miami Marlins #15 organizational prospect by MLBpipeline.com heading into the 2015 season, it’s clear that the Marlins front office and fans alike are just as high on Soltis’s offensive capabilities as they are with his defense capabilities. Primarily listed as a centerfielder, Soltis has the strong arm and above average speed that will allow him to play all outfield positions – including right field. On the offensive side of the ball, Soltis has a quick compact swing that promotes line drives to all parts of the field – at the same time showing an advanced level of comfort at the plate for a teenager.

The biggest skill set to pay attention to in Soltis’s game this season will be to see if he can develop the Hawkeyes (advanced plate vision) approach at the plate. This will bring down his 23.9 strikeout percent at the plate in 2014. It will also foster better pitch selection and lead to a higher overall average at the plate as he is promoted throughout the Marlins minor league system. It should also help him tap into some of that raw power we are yet to see from him at this point in his early minor league career.

Matt Juengel

At the age of 25, the Texas A&M product and the Miami Marlins 24th round pick in 2012, Matt Juengal is on the proven block. Standing at 6’2″ 190 lbs., Juengal has finally found his stroke in the Marlins minor leagues the past two seasons. In a break out performance in 2013 at Low-A Greensboro, Juengal hit for a .280 BABIP in 499 plate appearances with 14 home runs and 22 doubles. Unfortunately though, as it happens to all prospects that stop through the friendly hitter confines at Low-A Greensboro, the promotion to the next level tends to lead to decreased power statistics as seen in his 2014 statistics below at High-A Jupiter:

Matt Juengal

Even if his power numbers were down in 2014, Juengal still put together a top prospect like slash line for the Hammerheads – .272/.330/.393 with 32 doubles. These statistics supported his end of year promotion to Triple-A New Orleans, where he flashed his power hitting one home run in a limited 13 plate appearance. If he can continue to work on shortening his swing at the plate, while still producing the kind of massive pop he is prone to generate from his swing, then we could see him up in Triple-A by the end of the season.  With sub-par to average defense capabilities, it will be Juegnal’s right-handed bat that gets him promoted up to the big leagues, so continuing to work on his craft at the plate will be of the utmost importance to him this season. Off to a hot start, Juengal has already hit 4 home runs in 74 plate appearances with a .246 BABIP for Double-A Jacksonville this season and will look to continue that hot stroke for the rest of his 2015 campaign – in hopes of becoming a September call-up at seasons end.

Anfernee Seymour

One word describes the play of Anfernee Seymour – speed! Hands down the fastest prospect in the Miami Marlins minor league system, Seymour, standing at 5’11″ 168 lbs., was drafted by the Fish in the 7th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida – two picks behind high school outfielder Casey Soltis.  After signing his contract with the Marlins, Seymour literally hit the ground running in the Marlins instructional Gulf Coast League, swiping 11 bags on 13 attempts while being a singles machine and registering a season ending .338 BABIP in 112 plate appearances, as shown in his statistics below:

Anfernee Seymour

Listed on the Marlins depth chart as an outfielder, Seymour has the speed to make up for mistakes with his developing footwork in the outfield. This also makes him a threat up the middle as an infielder – playing at shortstop in 9 out of his 26 games played. This is a position the Marlins like seeing him at – with his fluent hands and above average arm.

Rated as the Miami Marlins organizational #28 top prospect by MLBpipeline.com, Seymour will have his work cut out for him when he hits the field in 2015. He will hope that his speed and slap happy hitting approach can place him on the fast track to the big leagues, but will need to continue his polish to possibly become the next Jarrod Dyson or Terrance Gore. Their speed has allowed them to develop in the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals, and could do the same for Seymour – who could double as a utility infielder.

With everything being even, Seymour, with his speed, definitely shines in a pile of solid outfield prospects in the Miami Marlins minor league system. If we believe that he could develop into another super utility player down the line, you have another highly touted outfield prospect to follow this season, – one that should find his way to Low-A Greensboro before the end of his first full season of pro ball in 2015.

Other notable outfielders to watch:

Cameron Flynn/6-foot-0 190 lbs./Drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2012 (23rd round) out of the University of Kentucky.
John Norwood/6-foot-1 185 lbs./Signed a free-agent contract with the Miami Marlins in 2015 out of Vanderbilt University.

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Outfield Pt. I

ere is no doubt that with an outfield staffed by Christian Yelich,Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins are set for the future, especially after signing Yelich and Stanton to long term extensions this off-season. These three players have become the cornerstones to turning around the Miami Marlins franchise, as well as becoming the best young outfield trio in the Major Leagues.

Stanton provides the power, Yelich the average, and Ozuna provides range in the outfield as well as a little bit of both power and the ability to hit for average at the plate. If that isn’t enough to get you excited about the Marlins outfield depth, then the news of the Marlins adding free agents Ichiro Suzuki and Don Kelly this off-season had to help get you to that climatic state. Just to know that when one of the three amigos in the outfield needs a day off, the Marlins can look to the wildly experienced veterans Ichiro and Kelly off the bench this season.

Even though the Marlins’ future outfield already looks to be set in place, there are many other capable candidates in the Marlins minor league system buying time until their name is heard over the loud speaker at Marlins Park. At Triple-A New Orleans, outfielders Brady Shoemaker, Austin Wates andCole Gillespie are all waiting in the wings ready to perform should injury occur at the Major League level. Most are classified as Four-A players for the most part (not quite major league caliber, but have proven they are capable of hanging with Triple-A level caliber players).

When you start looking deeper into the Marlins farm system, though, there is a surplus of outfield talent. Not the kind of talent you will find at the Triple-A level, that kind of four-A talent, but true prospect talent that has the Marlins’ front office and General Manager Dan Jennings drooling over how bright the future seems to be. So without further-or-do, here are the Best of the Rest in the Marlins minor league system.

Best of the Rest

Austin Dean

After getting off to a slow start in his first season of professional ball, the Miami Marlins’ 4th round draft pick in 2012, Austin Dean, finds himself at the top of the list for Best of the Rest – based on his consistency and high baseball IQ. He showcased this talent in his first full season of professional ball in 2013. Playing with the Batavia Muckdogs in the New-York Penn League, he registered a .335 BABIP in 231 plate appearances with an aggressive approach at the plate that yielded him 17 walks to 47 strikeouts. It’s that BABIP consistency though that keeps him at the top of this list, as evidenced in his statistics at Low-A Greensboro below:

Austin Dean

It’s clear to everyone in the organization that Dean, standing at 6″1’ 190 lbs. can flat out hit the baseball and track down fly balls in the outfield. Even if his arm doesn’t blow anyone away, and his speed is average at best for the outfield position, Dean has the kind of raw line drive power to be successful at the big league level. He has a swing that almost mirrors the same successful plate statistics seen in Miami Marlins top Prospect J.T Realmuto. Nothing flashy and jaw dropping, but enough raw power to consistently find the gaps that earn extra bases at the big league level.

The key element to watch in Austin Dean’s game this year is to see if he can bring down his strikeout percentage at the plate – something I hinted at above. In 2013 Dean had a 20.3% strikeout rate at the plate, but brought it down to a respectable 16.0% at the end of his 2014 season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers. If he hopes to make the Miami Marlins big league roster in the future, he will need to continue to work on his craft at the plate – becoming more of a complete hitter by drawing more works while waiting on more hit-able pitches. None the less, Austin Dean is a player on the rise in the Marlins minor league, and is the closest prospect, at the age of 23, to being major league ready. He starts this season with the Marlins High-A affiliate Jupiter Hammerheads.

Isael Soto

After signing with the Miami Marlins in 2013 as a free agent out of Bani, Dominican Republic, the left-handed, power hitting right fielder Isael Soto, who stands at 6″0’ 195 lbs., made a name for himself in a big way in his first full season of pro ball in 2014. Finishing second in the Gulf Coast League with seven home runs and registering .298 BABIP in 199 plate appearances as shown in his stats below:

Isael Soto

Even if his stature and statistical numbers don’t jump off the page at you, they will soon. His short compact swing at the plate helps to generate a steamboat of power from his lower and upper halves which will lead to bigger power numbers down the line. Like every young hitter, Soto still has to continue to polish his aggressive approach at the plate that tends to lead to more swing-and-misses at times than solid contact. Soto also doesn’t run like a deer in the outfield or on the base path. This makes him an average minor league outfielder and more of a project than a prospect at this point in his minor league career. Ranked as the Miami Marlins #9 organizational prospect at the age of 18 years-old, Soto will look to continue his development at the plate, working on plate discipline and pitch selection in hopes of smashing the ball in a hitters ball park this season at Low-A Greensboro.

If Soto can put up the kind of power numbers the Miami Marlins front office thinks he can, there is a good chance you could see him climb up the ranks as high as Double-A Jacksonville. Of course that will all depend on how Soto fairs against Low-A pitchers. With one full season under his belt though, the sky is the limit for Soto in the Marlins minor league and he should be on every Fish fans prospects to watch board this season.

Other notable outfielders to watch:

Yefri Perez/6-foot-0 170lbs./Signed with the Miami Marlins in 2009 at the age of 16 out of Bani, DR.
Zach Sullivan/6-foot-3 187 lbs./Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft (14th round) out of Corning-Painted Post East HS in Corning, NY.

Note: This is in no way the finally prospect list for the Best of the Rest on the Marlins minor league depth chart. Pt. II will break down the rest of the Marlins outfield depth, while outlining some possible super utility prospects in the works down on the farm.

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Third Base

The Miami Marlins spun a gem this winter to solidify the third base position for the 2015 Season, trading flame thrower Nathan Eovaldi and top pitching prospect Domingo German to the New York Yankees in exchange for the versatile pitching of David Phelps and the ever consistent ultra-utility player Martin Prado. After the trade of Casey McGehee to the San Francisco Giants, Prado is now the Marlins starting third baseman. At this point of the season, this activity has to be one of the Marlins most successful trades this off-season. Casey McGehee has gotten off to a slow start with the Giants – loafing a .267 BABIP with a .238 average and 2 RBI’s in 22 plate appearances and has sat out the last two games with a left knee injury. Prado, on the other hand, a career .311 BABIP hitter with a career .966 fielding percentage at third, has played every game at the hot corner for the Fish.

Signed through 2016 for $11M a year, the Marlins are unlikely to re-sign Martin Prado after his contract runs out – making him another stop gap free agent signee at a position that has been a revolving door for years in the Miami Marlins organization. Prado became the 8th different third baseman since 2006 to start on the Marlins Opening Day roster. There has been so much turn- over at this position over the years that you have to go back to the Mike Lowell era (2000-2005) to find continuity at third base for the Fish. In the 10 seasons since the Lowell era, players like Miguel Cabrera,Jorge Cantu, Emilio Bonifacio, Donnie Murphy, Hanley Ramirez and Casey McGehee have all been slotted as the Marlins Opening Day third baseman.

The Marlins attempted to find continuity at third for the future in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft – taking North Carolina Tar Heels third baseman Colin Moran with their first overall pick. Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out. After two half-seasons in the Marlins minor leagues, the front office decided he hadn’t shown enough power offensively, and polish defensively, to be considered the future at third base. Marlins management eventually traded him at the 2014 trade deadline for current Marlins pitcherJarred Cosart.

Even with Prado holding down the hot corner for the 2015 season with Donovan Solano, and Don Kelly and Jeff Baker mixing in off the bench, the Marlins are still hunting through their minor leagues and future collegiate/prep draftees to find that third baseman to carry them into the future. So while the Fish scour the globe for the next best option for them at third base, I will highlight two players listed in Marlin’s minor leagues that are the Best of the Rest down on the farm, and who might be able to put a stop to the revolving door at third base in the future.

Best of the Rest

Brian Anderson

Listed as the Miami Marlins #10 prospect by MLB.com, the 21 year-old right-handed hitting Anderson was the first collegiate player drafted by the Marlins in the 3rd round – out of Arkansas University in 2014. Primarily playing second base in college, his sophomore year he led the Razorbacks team in avg. (.325), runs scored (47), hits (68), doubles (12), triples (5), total bases (102), slugging percentage (.488), walks (41), on-base percentage (.448) and tied for a team-high with 36 runs batted in and four homers. He was then named a second team Preseason All-American by Baseball American heading into his draft year his Junior season at Arkansas. With that kind of prowess in college, it’s hard to deny the offensive capabilities of the Miami Marlins 76th overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft. Anderson carried over that smooth swinging power stroke from college to his first season of professional ball, as highlighted in his statistics below:

Brian Anderson

After showcasing both his advanced offensive capabilities and defensive versatility playing for the Batavia Muckdogs in 20 games, he was quickly promoted up to the hitter friendly confines at Low-A Greensboro. He started 26 of his 35 starts at third for the Grasshoppers.  Standing at 6’3″ and 192 lbs., it’s his raw power at the plate that has the Marlins front office drooling over his future potential. As he starts this season at High-A Jupiter, he will look to continue his early success at the plate – hoping to become the future at third base for the Marlins.

Brian Schales

Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 4th round of the 2014 MLB draft out of Edison HS (CA.), the then 18 year-old right-handed hitting high school shortstop showcased an advanced prep player approach at the plate in the Gulf Coast league for the Miami Marlins, while learning his footing at the hot corner:

Brian Schales

The successful statistics above aren’t a surprise to many though – especially the Brian Schales fans in SoCal. Mike Sciacca of the Huntinton Beach Independent newspaper described his play in high school:

“Schales, a four-year starter at shortstop for Edison, was a force in the field and at the plate. In 31 games, he hit .396, had 36 hits, homered seven times, walked 21 times, had 22 RBIs and struck out just eight times in 91 at-bats…”

“He does such a great job offensively but the one thing I think gets overlooked is his play on defense. He committed only four errors and I believe that says a lot about his abilities. He really saves us a lot this year.”

Even with the high-praise from his hometown supporters, the Miami Marlins #27 organizational prospect Brian Schales still has a lot to prove at the hot corner this season. With his hitting approach shown to be much more advanced than others of his age at times, the Marlins hope he can fill out his 6’1″ 181 lbs. frame, generating more power numbers down the line, while developing into the wall they are looking to have at third.

Brian has started 2015 with Low-A Greensboro starting six out of the seven games at third, where he will look to continue his development and growth. Improvement in his footwork and defensive approach will limit the mistakes made in his first season of pro ball, where he registered a .911 fielding percentage playing third base in 40 games with the GCL Marlins.

With that said, if Schales can avoid injury and continue to showcase the baseball make-up and  raw tools that have got him to this point, it’s not crazy to think that he could be nipping at the heels of Brian Anderson this season – or even pass him – on the Miami Marlins minor league depth chart at third base.

Other notable third basemen to watch:

Rehiner Cordova/6-foot-0 155 lbs./Signed by the previously named Florida Marlins at the age of 16 on September, 4 2010 out of Maracay, Venezuela.
Rony Cabrera/5-foot-11 180 lbs./Signed with the Miami Marlins at the age of 16 in 2012 out of Coche, Venezuela.

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Shortstop

With Adeiny Hechavarria holding down the shortstop position at the big league level, Miami Marlins fans seemingly have nothing to worry about. His 2014 campaign earned him a .323 BABIP with 10 triples (2nd in NL) and a ranking as the second best defensive shortstop in the MLB behind the Atlanta Bravesshortstop Andrelton Simmons. If Hechavarria can continue to swing the hot bat we saw in the second half of last season, then the Fish might have just found their shortstop of the future. Making highlight reel plays on defense and driving the ball to the gaps at the plate have slowly started to become part of Hech’s M.O.

With that being said though, should Hechavarria struggle at the plate like he did in 2013 – slashing .227/.267/.298 – on a team that is in need of offense in 2015, or go down with an unforeseen injury, then the Marlins will most likely look to fill the position with stop-gap Triple-A options Miguel Rojas, Reid Brignac and Jordany Valdespin, receiving aid from Donovan Solano off the bench occasionally as the Marlins homegrown ultra-utility player.

Should those options dissatisfy you as a Marlins fan, don’t worry, hope is not lost. The Marlins have a bevy of minor league talent at the shortstop position, so let’s take a look at the Best of the Rest.

Best of the Rest

Austin Nola

You’re looking at the next best minor league option not in Triple-A. Drafted out of LSU in 2012 in the 5th round by the Miami Marlins, the 6’0″ 192 lbs. right-handed hitting Nola had gotten off to a slow start in his first season of professional ball. He ended the 2012 campaign at Low-A Greensboro with a .247 BABIP in 205 plate appearances. Nola quickly rebounded though in his first full season of professional ball in 2013 with a .295 BABIP in 489 plate appearances at High-A Jupiter. He started 122 games at shortstop with a .974 fielding percentage – statistics that ranked him within the Marlins Top 20 organizational prospects heading into the 2014 season. When you look at his 2014 statistics at Double-A Jacksonville, you see the continued improvement at the plate:

Austin Nola

After turning 25 years-old this off-season, Nola will have to continue his year-in-year-out improvements to stay atop the many other talented shortstop prospects in the Marlins minor league system if he hopes to be the next shortstop in the minor league system to crack the Marlins major league roster. Even with a healthy Adeiny Hechavarria holding down the shortstop position at the big league level, Nola could find time playing behind either he or Dee Gordon at second base – where he was showcased playing with the Marlins in spring training. At his late age though, it’s unclear how much more leash the Marlins will be willing to give Austin Nola, but if he can carry over his Arizona Fall League plate approach where he finished with a .311 BABIP in 59 plate appearances while striking out just three times, then the Marlins will be hard pressed not to find a spot for him in future major league lineup cards.

Justin Bohn

What can you say about the Miami Marlins MLB.com’s #20 prospect? He hasn’t registered a BABIP below .300 since his promotion to Low-A Greensboro at the end of 2013 season.  To be honest, there really isn’t much to say at all. Drafted in the 7th round by the Miami Marlins in 2013 out of Feather River Junior College in California, the 22 year-old 6’0″ 180lbs. shortstop has done nothing but make contact with the baseball at an alarming rate – shown in his 2014 statistics below:

Justin Bohn

Bohn also carried that same smooth swinging stroke from 2014 into the Arizona Fall League, where he finished with a .391 BABIP in 66 plate appearances for the Rafters, helping him regain his advanced approach at the plate after seeing a raise in his strikeout percentage – a jump from 17.2% in Low-A to 20.7% in High-A. MLB scouting analysts have described his play as:

“Bohn has a solid approach at the plate and knows how to work a walk. His simple swing enables him to make consistent contact, though he doesn’t produce much power. He’s a capable defender and gets rid of the ball quickly, but doesn’t stand out and may eventually end up in a utility role.”

These are all true facts when assessing Justin Bohn’s play up to this point in his minor league career. He won’t burn the opponent on the base paths and won’t wow you with web gem plays up the middle. However, if he can continue to consistently perform at the plate and make the easy plays look easy in the field, we should see Bohn promoted as high as Double-A Jacksonville this season – barring any unforeseen injuries.

J.T. Riddle

As Mr. Baseball in Kentucky in 2010, Riddle turned down the Red Sox in that year’s MLB draft out of Western Hills High School, KY, and took his game to the University of Kentucky. Kentucky was where he was eventually drafted in the 13th round by the Miami Marlins in the 2013 MLB Amateur draft after his junior season. A draft choice the Miami Marlins organization couldn’t be happier about. He uses every inch of his 6’3″ 175 lbs. wiry left-handed hitting frame to attack pitches at the plate with an aggressive approach – something that was showcased in his first full season of professional ball at Low-A Greensboro:

J.T Riddle

He was also able to showcase his defensive versatility. Labeled primarily as a second baseman coming out of college, the Marlins have had Riddle playing all over the infield – primarily on the left side seeing time at third base, but mostly at shortstop. Riddle started at shortstop in 58 games for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2014, flashing his strong arm while finishing with a .958 fielding percentage. This should convince the Miami Marlins front office and prospect gurus that with a little more growth and development in the minors this year, MLB.com’s Miami Marlins #21 prospect J.T Riddle, in just his second full season of pro ball, could be heading for a breakout season in 2015 – right behind the Marlins highly touted infield prospect Justin Bohn.

Justin Twine

The three-sport star that is Justin Twine brings a tremendous amount of athleticism to the shortstop position. Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 2nd round of the 2014 MLB Draft, this 5’11″ 205 lbs. right-handed throwing and hitting middle infielder owned the baseball field as well as the track his senior year in high school, winning three gold medals – for the long jump and two relays – at the 2014 Texas State Championships. He also owned the football field as well, as a duel-threat quarterback for his high school football team, leading him to eventually turn down several Div. I offers for football to sign with the Miami Marlins. Based on his 2014 Gulf Coast League numbers fish fans are glad he did:

Justin Twine

Despite having a .327 BABIP in 179 plate appearances, there is still a lot of room for development in Twine’s game defensively as well as offensively with his approach at the plate. Striking out 52 times and only walking 6 while continually fine tuning his craft at shortstop, makes him more of a project prospect than a fast-track prospect in the Marlins minor league system at the early age of 19 years-old. Although, if Twine can use his exorbitant amount of athleticism to quickly master the shortstop position, with his already solid build and raw talent potential he could quickly dash the “project” tag and put himself on the prospect fast-track to the Marlins major league roster.

Other Notable Shortstops to Watch

Javier Lopez/6-foot-3 185 lbs./Signed with the Miami Marlins at 17 years-old in 2012 out of San Gregorio de Nigua, DR.
Danny Black/6-foot-3 180 lbs./Drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2010 (14th round) out of the University of Oklahoma.

Jason Tate reports on the Miami Marlins minor league system at http://www.fishstripes.com. Follow him @MarlinsRising on twitter or at http://www.marlinsrising.com. Make sure to view this article in its original form at http://www.fishstripes.com/2015/4/9/8373697/2015-miami-marlins-prospects-shortstop

2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Second Base

via 2015 Miami Marlins minor league depth: Second Base – Fish Stripes.

In 2014 the Miami Marlins struggled to find an everyday second baseman. The position became a revolving door for the entire 2014 campaign after Rafael Furcal, who signed a one-year deal in the off-season, went down in Spring Training with a hamstring injury that he would never fully recover from. He played in only eight games, causing the Marlins to start six different players at second base over the course of the season. Enrique Hernandez, Ed Lucas, Jeff Baker, Derek Dietrich,Donovan Solano and Jordany Valdespin were all part of that revolving door. None of the six players slotting in at second base in 2014 were able to make a lasting impression on the Marlins front office, forcing the organization to move in a different direction for the 2015 season.

After getting a look at all their internal candidates in 2014, the Marlins moved to overhaul at second base this off-season. In a flurry of moves this winter the Marlins were able to do just that. After the Texas Rangers claimed Ed Lucas off waivers, the Marlins landed Dee Gordon in a trade with the Dodgers to solidify second base for the upcoming 2015 season. This trade included Marlins 2014 mid-season acquisition from the Houston Astros, utility prospect Enrique Hernandez. This series of off-season moves not only improved the black hole that was second base last season, but also changed the whole dynamic of the offensive line-up as well as the defense up the middle. The dynamic has been on display this spring with Dee Gordon leading off at the top of the line-up,Christian Yelich moving him over and Giancarlo Stanton driving him home.

With all that being said though, the Marlins might have finally found a second basemen that will be able hold down the position for more than 100 games a season, something they haven’t had since trading Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers in 2012. If Dee Gordon does go down with an injury, or he reverts back to the slump he struggled through the second half of the season last year, then utility entrepreneur Donovan Solano will be there to pick up the pieces – with Derek Dietrich and Jordany Valdespin waiting in the wings at Triple-A New Orleans and Jeff Baker making the occasionally celebrity appearance.

Even if most of the Marlins second base depth already has major league experience, there are still two highly touted young players that add promising depth in the Marlins minor league system.

Best of the Rest

Avery Romero

Drafted by the Marlins in the third round of the 2012 draft and ranked this season by MLB.com as the Miami Marlins #5 Prospect , this scrappy-aggressive 21 year-old second basemen who stands at 5’10″ 190 lbs., has been eating up pitchers early-contact fastballs through the minor league system.  His success has led him to High-A Jupiter. Romero doesn’t wait for the game to come to him; he brings his energy and excitement to the game. His aggressive approach at the plate, and effortless arm strength from second and strong hands could translate into increased power numbers as he matures. A majority of Avery’s home runs came in 2014 when he hit five of his 11 minor league career home runs  – a high percentage of them to his pull side of the field. We are going to have to wait and assess how the power comes along and contributes to his future slash statistics.

Avery RomeroHe paired his steady build up in maturity and earnest efforts to improve his footwork in the infield, with the tremendous raise in production on the offensive side of the ball this spring – hitting a blast over the left field wall. He is a remarkable talent to keep an eye on at the minor league level heading into the 2015 season – especially after turning some heads with his improved approach to the game this spring.

Mason Davis

As I stated in my article, Miami Marlins 2014 Draft Review: Mason Davis, Mason was drafted by the Marlins in the 19th round of the 2014 MLB Amateur draft. The 22 year-old,  5’9″ 175 lbs. switch-hitting infielder, who models his game after All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins,  batted a collegiate career high of .310 at the plate with a career best 27 stolen bases his junior season at the Citadel. After being drafted by the Marlins, Davis hit the ground running when sent to play for the minor league affiliate, the Batavia Muckdogs in the NY-Penn league. Continuing that hot collegiate swing, he pounded out a .319 average at the plate with a .369 BABIP to go along with nine swiped bags over the course of 248 plate-appearances. That was impressive enough to be named to the NY-Penn League All-Star Game in Brooklyn, NY.

Mason DavisTowards the end of his first season of professional ball, Davis was promoted to Low-A Greensboro – a team in a heated playoff race in the South Atlantic League. He gained invaluable experience as part of this successful Grasshoppers team. Seeing time at both second base and in the outfield, he was able to produce a minimum sample-sized slash line of .259/.355/.333 in 31 plate appearances. This is a line he will be determined to improve upon when he steps up to the plate again in 2015.

Other Notable Second Basemen to Watch

Ryan Cranmer/6-foot-2 195 lbs./Drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2014 (24th round) out of Newberry College, SC.
Iramis Olivencia/5-foot-9 180lbs./Drafted by the Miami Marlins in 2013 (8th round) out of Arlington County Day School, FL.

Note: Even though mlbpipeline.com’s Miami Marlins #21 prospect J.T Riddle is listed primarily as a second basemen, the Marlins have played him consistently at either third base or short-stop throughout his minor league career. He is not forgotten and will be highlighted when I talk about the Marlins minor depth at either of those positions.