Game: 1:05 PM at Nationals Park
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
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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
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:
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.
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:
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.
After finishing 2014 with a 77-85 record the Marlins made some bold moves in the offseason to try and orchestrate a push for the playoffs in 2015. They resigned Giancarlo Stanton to a record breaking 13 year deal worth $325 million dollars.
In addition, they brought in pitching ace Mat Latos to help bolster the top half of their rotation. If Jose Fernandez can come back in June, as is projected, the Marlins will have three top end pitchers in Mat Latos, Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alverez. A little deeper into the rotation Miami replaced starting pitcher Nathan Eovvaldi with Dan Haren and statistically it’s a fairly even swap.
The one area in which Miami looks worse than they did last year is in their relief pitching. The Marlins lost a solid reliever in Chris Hatcher. Dan Jennings who was a top end reliever for the Marlins last…
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