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Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2014.
In late May the Marlins were looking up at the rest of the National League, practically if not mathematically eliminated at 13-41. Attendance at second-year Marlins Park was abysmal, on par with the numbers at old Sun Life Stadium. Fans took out their anger at owner Jeffrey Loria and his salary-dumping offseason deals by ignoring the team. Then the young club suddenly showed signs of life. After winning their final game in May, the Marlins went 15-10 in June.
Mike Redmond's squad managed a respectable 51-59 over its final 110 games. Slowly fans started to return, particularly on nights when rookie sensation Jose Fernandez took the hill. In his six second-half starts, announced attendance averaged 23,771. That was 4,000 fans better the season average of 19,584, a figure higher than only the Rays and down 28.5 percent from 2012.
While the locals were upset by the series of offseason deals that sent virtually every recognizable name out of town, the Marlins could take solace in the return they got, particularly in the 12-player blockbuster they consummated with Toronto in November 2012.
Adeiny Hechavarria took over at shortstop, providing solid glovework on a team that played surprisingly tight defense. Righthander Henderson Alvarez tossed a no-hitter on the season's final day. Prospects Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani and Jake Marisnick bolstered their stock with strong showings on the farm. Additionally, lefthander Brian Flynn, acquired from the Tigers in July 2012, led the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in ERA.
Wave after wave of rookies washed ashore in Miami, gaining valuable experience and giving fans a taste of the not-too-distant future. Seven of the team's top 12 prospects coming into the season saw significant big league action, including outfielder Christian Yelich, who hit a solid .288/.370/.396 in regular duty after being summoned in late July.
Unfortunately, aside from Yelich, veteran right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and rookie Marcell Ozuna, the offensive sparks came few and far between. Miami was the only team in the majors that didn't hit 100 home runs, finishing with 95. The Marlins were last in hits, batting (.231), on-base percentage (.293), slugging (.335) and runs (3.17 per game).
So how did they win 62 games? Pitching. The young staff ranked 11th in the major leagues with a 3.71 ERA. Fernandez finished second in the bigs with a 2.19 mark while fanning 187 and allowing a miserly 111 hits in 173 innings.
While the organization now feels that the future looks bright, longtime president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest won't be around to oversee it. Hired in 2002 as general manager, Beinfest was fired in the last week of the season. General manager Mike Hill was promoted to team president, with vice president of player personnel Dan Jennings sliding into Hill's old job title. They and their staff will have the second pick in the 2014 draft, the upside of their dismal finish in 2013.
The team's top 2013 pick, third baseman Colin Moran, made an immediate impact, homering in his first professional at-bat for low Class A Greensboro. However, the Marlins failed to sign supplemental first-rounder Matt Krook, a high school lefty from San Francisco, and third-rounder Ben DeLuzio, a prep shortstop from Orlando. Still, the farm system is deeper than it was a couple of years ago, with plenty of young talent already entrenched in Miami.