Florida Marlins: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Florida Marlins: Scouting Reports




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, 2009.

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Trading off franchise stalwarts Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for a package of kids was supposed to send the Marlins into another freefall as they retooled for the future. Instead, it set them up for a surprising 84-win season while adding to a rapidly growing stash of prospects in a well-balanced system.

Saddled with the sport's lowest Opening Day payroll ($22 million, roughly half of what the second-lowest club, the Rays, spent) and widely predicted to lose 90-plus games, Florida rallied under second-year manager Fredi Gonzalez to post the third-highest victory total (84) in their existence. The Marlins finished third in the rugged National League East, 7½ games behind the eventual World Series champion Phillies. Despite a flawed blueprint that relied too heavily on the home run and included a shaky defense, they missed the wild card by just 5½ games.

As for the seemingly endless push for a new baseball-only stadium in Miami's Little Havana, Florida moved closer than ever to realization despite wasting many months dealing with a lawsuit from former NFL owner Norman Braman. The team still hopes to break ground by the spring of 2009 and open by 2012 at the latest.

In mid-May, the Marlins signed Hanley Ramirez to a six-year, $70 million extension. It was the largest contract ever awarded by a Jeffrey Loria-owned team.

But in the offseason, they once again sought to keep its payroll down while also adding some speed and defense. Florida traded Kevin Gregg, Mike Jacobs, Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham before they could go to arbitration, getting Emilio Bonifacio and Leo Nunez for the big league roster and righthanders Jose Ceda and P.J. Dean plus infielder Jake Smolinski for their farm system.

As for last winter's blockbuster, Andrew Miller, the big lefty who highlighted the six-player haul the Marlins received from the Tigers for Cabrera and Willis, had an uneven first season in South Florida. He finished up in the bullpen after missing more than a month in the second half with patellar tendinitis, though he did show enough to convince management to trade Olsen.

The other megaprospect in the Cabrera-Willis deal was electric center fielder Cameron Maybin. He was an eye-popping revelation once he was recalled for the season's final 10 days and ranks No. 1 on this prospect list for the second straight year.

In the minors, Florida affiliates won at a combined .530 clip—their best record since 2001—while receiving a number of outstanding performances, particularly from their growing crop of position prospects. Gaby Sanchez was named MVP of the Double-A Southern League, while fellow first baseman Logan Morrison earned the same honor in the high Class A Florida State League and easily won the batting title with a .332 average. Outfielder Mike Stanton, playing at age 18 in his first full pro season, blasted 39 homers for low Class A Greensboro.

Picking sixth in the June draft, their highest slot since they took Adrian Gonzalez No. 1 overall in 2000, the Marlins selected high school catcher Kyle Skipworth. Following former all-star Charles Johnson as just the second backstop taken in the first round by Florida, Skipworth immediately became the best catching prospect in a system that had lacked one. However, the Marlins continued to sit on the sidelines of the international market, where they were one of just six clubs not to hand out a single six-figure bonus in 2008.

1.  Cameron Maybin, of   Born: April 4, 1987 B-T: R - RHt: 6-4Wt: 205
Drafted: HS—Asheville, N.C., 2005 (1st round).
Signed by: Bill Buck (Tigers).
Cameron MaybinBackground: Once considered untouchable and the jewel of the Tigers system, Maybin was pried away in December 2007 as part of an eight-player blockbuster that cost the Marlins franchise stalwarts Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Lefty Andrew Miller also came south along with four lesser prospects, and though Miller broke camp with Florida last season, it's Maybin who will determine the eventual success or failure of the deal. The 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft, he signed for $2.65 million. Widely considered among the best athletes in that draft, the main reason for his modest slide was a perception that his bat would need more time to develop. He shot holes in that theory by reaching the majors at age 20 in 2007, his second pro season. His first two big league hits came off Roger Clemens, a single and homer, but overall he struggled at the plate in a brief cameo with the contending Tigers. Nagging injuries have slowed his progress the past two seasons. In 2007, he partially dislocated his right shoulder and strained his left shoulder. In 2008, he missed three weeks in July with a pulled ribcage muscle and a few days in August with a staph infection. He still managed to bounce back in time to lead Double-A Carolina within one win of a Southern League championship before dazzling onlookers during an eight-game audition with the Marlins in late September. He ranked as the top position prospect in the SL.

Strengths: Maybin has five-tool ability. His quick hands give him lightning bat speed, which combined with his raw strength should allow him to hit for plus power as he fills out and makes more consistent contact. He also has the plus-plus speed to beat out infield hits and steal bases. While his plate discipline still has a ways to go, it has improved notably and he does draw walks. Defensively, he has tremendous closing speed and strong instincts that enable him to read the ball off the bat and make highlight-reel plays in center field. He also brandishes a strong throwing arm that evokes memories of a young Andre Dawson, now a Marlins special assistant. It was Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine, who compared Maybin to a young Devon White during a late-season broadcasting cameo. Maybin also draws praise for his makeup.

Weaknesses: Strikeouts remain the biggest concern for Maybin, who was fanned in 31 percent of his at-bats as a pro. He's still learning to recognize the spin on offspeed pitches and to lay off fastballs up in the zone. He has a late hitch in his swing that counteracts some of his bat speed. He batted leadoff after his callup and delivered four-hit games in his first two starts, but he fits better a bit lower in the lineup at this stage of his career. Maybin could be a more aggressive and effective basestealer, and Florida believes he'll become a major threat once he learns how to read pitchers and lengthen his leads. He has an awkward running style in which he swings his arms out from his sides and sometimes loses ground as he rounds a base.

The Future: After giving the Marlins a tantalizing taste of his abilities last September, Maybin will get every opportunity to seize the center-field job for good come spring training. Only a disastrous showing would send him back to the minors for more seasoning. He should develop into the best all-around center fielder in Florida's brief history.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Carolina (AA)
.277
.375
.456
390
73
108
15
8
13
49
60
124
21
 
2.  Mike Stanton, of   Born: Nov. 8, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 205
Drafted: HS—Sherman Oaks, Calif., 2007 (2nd round). Signed by: Tim McDonnell.
Mike StantonBackground: Southern California offered Stanton a baseball scholarship and a walk-on opportunity as a receiver/defensive back at Southern California, while Nevada-Las Vegas wanted him to play football and walk-on in baseball. Instead, the Marlins stole him in the second round of the 2007 draft for $475,000. In his first full pro season, he ranked second in the minors in homers (39) and total bases (286) and fourth in slugging (.611).

Strengths: While low Class A Greensboro's NewBridge Bank Park is a bandbox, Stanton's homers weren't flukes. He hit 18 on the road and showed regular light-tower power, prompting comparisons to a young Dave Winfield. He has plus speed and runs out every ball, never letting opponents or the score get him off his game. He has a solid-average arm and played well in both center and right field in 2008.

Weaknesses: Stanton's strikeout totals remain high, but Florida insists he has no problem with pitch recognition. He has yet to develop basestealing instincts. He worked with Greensboro pitching coach John Duffy to improve his throwing mechanics and get more out of his arm strength.

The Future: Even when he could have helped them acquire Manny Ramirez for the stretch drive, the Marlins deemed Stanton strictly off limits. They're already daydreaming about an outfield that includes Cameron Maybin in center and Stanton in right, but the latter probably won't arrive until 2010 at the soonest.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greensboro (LoA)
.293
.381
.611
468
89
137
26
3
39
97
58
153
4
 
3.  Logan Morrison, 1b   Born: Aug. 25, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-2Wt: 215
 Drafted: Maple Woods (Mo.) CC, D/F 2005 (22nd round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Logan MorrisonBackground: Morrison turned down $95,000 as a 22nd-round pick out of high school so he could attend Maple Woods (Mo.) CC, the same school that produced Albert Pujols. While there, he grew two inches and added 20 pounds of muscle, prompting the Marlins to sign him for $225,000 as a draft-and-follow. He exploded last season to claim MVP honors in the high Class A Florida State League, which he led in batting (.332), hits (162), doubles (38) and on-base percentage (.402).

Strengths: Morrison has a flat swing that stays in the zone for an exceptionally long time. He has plus power and blasted several memorable shots last season, but he does a nice job of ignoring that temptation and working the gaps. His plate discipline keeps improving and he refrains from chasing pitches out of the zone. He projects as a .300 hitter with 30-homer potential. He keeps getting better defensively, too, flashing a strong arm and a willingness to nail lead runners.

Weaknesses: Morrison's range at first base is still fairly limited. He's a below-average runner, though not bad once he gets going. Offensively, however, there's not much not to like.

The Future: After batting .404/.444/.667 in the Arizona Fall League, Morrison will head to Florida's new Double-A Jacksonville affiliate. He could get to the majors at some point in 2009 and battle Gaby Sanchez for a starting job. The Marlins also could move Morrison to left field after he showed decent aptitude there in the AFL.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jupiter (HiA)
.332
.402
.494
488
71
162
38
1
13
74
57
80
9
 
4.  Sean West, lhp   Born: June 15, 1986B-T: L-LHt: 6-8Wt: 200
 Drafted: HS—Shreveport, La., 2005 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Ryan Fox.
Sean WestBackground: Signed for $775,000 out of high school, West continues to tantalize with what might be the highest ceiling of the five pitchers the Marlins drafted before the second round in 2005. He missed the entire 2007 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum, and he pitched only three times in the first two months last season because of blisters. He got better each month afterward and then greatly impressed scouts in the Arizona Fall League.

Strengths: His big frame and three-quarters arm slot have earned him comparisons to a young Randy Johnson. West owns a big fastball, which sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96. He features two different sliders, one tighter than the other, and his changeup has shown potential. He continues to mature on and off the mound, battling through outings when he lacks his best stuff.

Weaknesses: Not surprisingly for such a big man, West struggles at times with his delivery. He tends to shorten his stride, which causes his front side to become too stiff and leaves his arm to drag behind his body, negatively affecting his control. He needs to trust his changeup more.

The Future: West has yet to pitch above Class A, but his strong work in Arizona has put him on the fast track to the majors. The Marlins will continue to be very careful with him, properly viewing him as a future rotation topper. He figures to open the year at Double-A Jacksonville, but a call to the majors isn't far away.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Jupiter (HiA)
6
5
2.41
21
20
0
0
100.2
79
3
60
92
.224
 
5.  Ryan Tucker, rhp   Born: Dec. 6, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 190
Drafted: HS—Temple City, Calif., 2005 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: John Cole.
Ryan TuckerBackground: A 2005 compensation pick for the loss of former closer Armando Benitez, Tucker signed for $975,000 and reached the majors midway through his third full pro season. However, he was back in Double-A three weeks later after taking his lumps.

Strengths: Blessed with an overpowering fastball that continues to rank among the best in the system, Tucker pitches at 92-95 mph and touches 97. When his slider is on, it's tight and features late break. He continued to use his changeup even after successfully lobbying for a bullpen assignment upon his return to Carolina. His mound presence is a plus and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria raves about his bulldog mentality.

Weaknesses: Tucker has a tendency to rely too heavily on his fastball, a failing big leaguers readily exploited. His slider command is inconsistent, causing him to lose confidence with the pitch. Previous attempts at mastering a curveball and cutter were scrapped. He can be hard on himself, growing too emotional when things go against him. He drew a 2007 suspension for twice having words with high Class A Jupiter pitching coach Reid Cornelius, but there have been no further problems.

The Future: With the big league rotation seemingly overbooked, Tucker is wisely angling for a future in short relief. If he doesn't make the Florida bullpen out of spring training, he'll likely head to the club's new Triple-A New Orleans affiliate and return to starting.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Carolina (AA)
5
3
1.58
25
12
0
0
91
64
2
37
74
.195
Florida
2
3
8.27
13
6
0
0
37
46
8
23
28
.305
 
6.  Matt Dominguez, 3b   Born: Aug. 28, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 180
 Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif., 2007 (1st round). Signed by: Tim McDonnell.
Matt DominguezBackground: Despite his all-around excellence, Dominguez is used to being overshadowed. He shared the left side of the Chatsworth (Calif.) High infield with Mike Moustakas, who went second overall in the 2007 draft—10 picks ahead of Dominguez. He had a lackluster pro debut after signing for $1.8 million but recovered nicely in 2008 at Greensboro, though Mike Stanton generated more headlines.

Strengths: Dominguez's defense is the first thing everyone notices. He has exceptionally smooth hands and actions in the field, along with a strong arm and quick release that have drawn comparisons to Mike Lowell's. Dominguez could play third base in the big leagues right now. His bat really came around last season, as he showed a quicker bat and more fluid swing than he had in his debut.

Weaknesses: Adding strength remains a must, especially after a bout with mononucleosis cost Dominguez the first six weeks of last season and caused him to drop 15 pounds. He has a tendency to lunge at times at the plate and can get tied up with hard stuff on the inner half. He's a below-average runner whose quickness and range have been called into question.

The Future: Next season will be key for Dominguez as he makes the transition from hitter-friendly Greensboro to the larger parks of the Florida State League. He remains the top third baseman in the system and should reach the majors in 2011.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greensboro (LoA)
.296
.354
.499
345
59
102
16
0
18
70
28
68
0
 
7.  Kyle Skipworth, c   Born: March 1, 1990B-T: L-RHt: 6-3Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Rubidoux, Calif., 2008 (1st round). Signed by: Robby Corsaro.
Kyle SkipworthBackground: Skipworth didn't become a full-time catcher until he was a junior in high school, after the incumbent catcher (the head coach's brother) graduated. As a senior, he drew comparisons to Joe Mauer, the only other prep catcher taken in the top 10 picks in the past 13 drafts, and set a California state record with hits in 18 consecutive plate appearances. Drafted sixth overall, Skipworth signed quickly for $2.3 million.

Strengths: Though he struggled in his pro debut, the Mauer comparisons extend to his hitting. Skipworth has the bat speed and strength to hit for average and power as he matures. A first-rate receiver with excellent hands and footwork, he required little tweaking from roving catching instructor Tim Cossins. He quickly took on game-calling responsibilities and showed a knack for handling pitchers. He has a strong, accurate throwing arm and a quick release, which helped him led the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League by nailing 36 percent of basestealers.

Weaknesses: Skipworth piled up too many strikeouts in the GCL, but he isn't the first high pick to struggle in his first pro summer. He needs to add strength and bulk to his lanky frame. His arm action can get long at times. He never had called pitches until he reached pro ball, so that has been an adjustment.

The Future: The Marlins haven't had a catcher this promising since Charles Johnson in the early 1990s. Skipworth will start 2009 in low Class A, and his bat will dictate how fast he climbs.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Marlins (R)
.208
.263
.340
159
22
33
6
0
5
21
13
46
2
 
8.  Gaby Sanchez, 1b/3b   Born: Sept. 2, 1983B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 225
 Drafted: Miami, 2005 (4th round). Signed by: John Martin.
Gaby SanchezBackground: Suspended under a cloud of mystery his entire junior year at Miami, Sanchez was a fourth-round steal for the Marlins. He signed $250,000, largely on the recommendation of East Coast scouting supervisor Mike Cadahia, who had known him for years. Sanchez won the short-season New York-Penn League batting title at .355 in his pro debut and the Southern League MVP award last summer.

Strengths: His plate discipline ranks right with Chris Coghlan's as the best in the system. Sanchez makes excellent adjustments from pitch to pitch and has learned to use the whole field. He shows outstanding gap power and could hit almost anywhere in the lineup besides leadoff. After trying catcher and third base, he has worked hard to become a plus defender at first base, with managers rating him the best in the SL.

Weaknesses:  Big-time power isn't in Sanchez's toolbox, as his 17 homers last season were a career high. He tends to dive for balls and can struggle against top pitching, with some scouts questioning his bat speed. He'll have to keep a close watch on his conditioning. He has below-average speed, though his lateral quickness has improved.

The Future: Having reached the majors for a brief look last September, Sanchez heads to spring training with an excellent shot at winning the starting first-base job. The Marlins dealt incumbent Mike Jacobs to the Royals in a salary-related move, but they also did so knowing Sanchez was ready to break through.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Carolina (AA)
.314
.404
.513
478
70
150
42
1
17
92
69
70
17
Florida
.375
.375
.625
8
0
3
2
0
0
1
0
2
0
 
9.  Chris Coghlan, 2b   Born: June 18, 1985B-T: L-RHt: 6-1Wt: 195
 Drafted: HS—Mississippi, 2006 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Mark Willoughby.
Chris CoghlanBackground: Winning the Cape Cod League batting title put Coghlan on the map the summer before his draft year in 2006. Selected 36th overall and signed for $950,000, he represented the Marlins at the Futures Game in his first full season and was MVP of the Southern League all-star game in 2008.

Strengths: Coghlan has an innate ability to put the barrel of the bat on the ball. He also shows strong plate discipline, and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria proudly calls him a professional hitter. A solid-average runner, Coghlan has made himself into a legitimate basestealing threat by studying pitchers. Predominantly a third baseman in college, he has made himself into a solid second baseman. His baseball smarts and work ethic bode well for him.

Weaknesses: Coghlan's hands aren't the softest, and he remains a work in progress around the bag at second. He probably won't hit for much power, though he does tend to find the gaps.

The Future: It was a surprise when the Marlins acquired slick-fielding second baseman Emilio Bonifacio from the Nationals in November. Coghlan is a superior hitter and could bounce back to third base if needed, but his fast track to the majors as Dan Uggla's eventual replacement has gained a potential roadblock.
 
2008 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Carolina (AA)
.298
.396
.429
483
83
144
32
5
7
74
67
65
34
 
10.  Jose Ceda, rhp   Born: Jan 28, 1987B-T: R-RHt: 6-4Wt: 275
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2004. Signed by: Felix Francisco/Randy Smith (Padres).
Jose CedaBackground: It's rare for a young power arm like Ceda to get traded twice in two years, but that was the case when the Marlins somehow acquired him for Kevin Gregg in November. Chicago had stolen him from the Padres in a mid-2006 deal for Todd Walker.

Strengths: His hulking frame and power repertoire have earned him comparisons to Lee Smith and Armando Benitez. Ceda's fastball sits at 95-97 mph and touches 100, and he also flashes a hard slider that can be overpowering. He moved to the bullpen for good in June, and he has a 2.12 ERA, .149 opponent average and 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings in that role over the last two years.

Weaknesses: Ceda's command and control are inconsistent because he doesn't always repeat his delivery well. Escogido dropped him in the Dominican League this winter after he walked two batters and threw a wild pitch without recording an out in his lone outing. His changeup was a weak third pitch, though he doesn't need it now as a reliever. Durability has been an issue, though more when he was a starter. He missed two months with a stiff shoulder in 2007. His weight remains a concern and likely always will for such a large man.

The Future: He'll get every opportunity to break camp with the Marlins in 2009. He likely would start out by setting up young closer Matt Lindstrom, but some believe it's only a matter of time before the job is Ceda's.
 
2008 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Daytona (HiA)
2
2
4.80
15
12
0
0
54.1
41
4
28
53
.212
Tennessee (AA)
2
1
2.80
22
0
0
9
30.1
26
2
14
42
.234

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Photo Credits: Robert Gurganus (Maybin)
Morris Fostoff (Morrison)
Steve Moore (Ceda, West)
Rodger Wood (Stanton)
Nikolaus Johnson/Carolina Mudcats (Coghlan, Sanchez)
Lifetouch Studios (Dominguez)