2012 Florida Marlins Top 10 Prospects With 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, 2011.

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Sharing a division with the Phillies, the Marlins faced an uphill battle going into the 2011 season. First place in the National League East may not have been a realistic goal, but fifth place wasn't the destination most foresaw either. After finishing May in second place, just two games back, Florida fell apart.

The Marlins went 5-23 in June, enduring a 1-19 stretch and dropping into last place, which they would escape only briefly later in the year. Manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned near the end of the club's 11-game losing streak, just days short of the one-year anniversary of his hire.

Veteran Jack McKeon, who famously rallied Florida to a World Series title after taking over in mid-2003, was unable to replicate the feat. He guided a young roster to a 40-50 record, then stepped aside when Ozzie Guillen came over from the White Sox in October, in a transaction that also included trading prospects Jhan Marinez and Osvaldo Martinez to Chicago. The return of the feisty former Marlins third-base coach stirred up the fan base as the franchise prepares to move into a new stadium for 2012.

Shortly before Guillen's long-rumored arrival, a front-office shakeup saw longtime vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming reassigned as a special assistant. Marty Scott, who had been managing in the independent American Association, took over as farm director. Scouting director Stan Meek was promoted to vice president of scouting and will continue to run Florida's drafts.

While the organization's spin on the changes was that they were just a different approach, they were rooted in owner Jeffrey Loria's frustration with the club's lack of major league-ready talent in the system, which he spoke publicly about in July. After years of plugging key pieces into the lineup and pitching staff—such as Mike Stanton, who hit 34 home runs in his first full season—the upper levels have gone dry. The Marlins rank 29th in draft spending over the last five years ($21.7 million), and that has caught up to them.

Matt Dominguez failed to win the third-base job in spring training, then missed the start of the year with a broken elbow. Scott Cousins wasn't the answer when Chris Coghlan went down with a knee injury. Martinez did nothing when given an opportunity.

Finesse starters Tom Koehler and Elih Villanueva, who had blitzed through Double-A in 2010, were woeful in Triple-A and weren't realistic options when Josh Johnson was lost for the year. The only significant rookie contributions Florida got came from backup outfielder Bryan Petersen and relievers Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn.

There is some talent deeper in the pipeline. Low Class A Greensboro claimed the South Atlantic League crown on the strength of a prospect-laden lineup led by left fielder Christian Yelich, right fielder Marcell Ozuna, catcher J.T. Realmuto and second baseman Noah Perio. The Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team, featuring righthanders Austin Brice and Mason Hope and center fielder Jesus Solorzano, came within a game of capturing a championship.

Florida also added several promising arms in the draft, plucking righthander Jose Fernandez in the first round, lefty Adam Conley in the second and Hope in the fifth. The Marlins hoped to add a pair of talented middle infielders in Connor Barron (third round) and Tyler Palmer (fourth), but both players ended up sticking to their strong college commitments.

1. Christian Yelich, OF Born: Dec 05, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 189
Drafted: Westlake HS, Westlake Village, Calif., 2010 (1st round). Signed by: Tim McDonnell.
Background: Yelich is a product of the Westlake High (Westlake Village, Calif.) program that has produced big leaguers Matt Franco, Mike Lieberthal, Mike Nickeas and John Snyder. One of the best hitters available in the 2010 draft, he had committed to Miami but went 23rd overall to the Marlins, and instead of heading to South Florida for college he set his sights on getting there as a major leaguer, signing for an above-slot $1.7 million bonus at the deadline. He spent a week at low Class A Greensboro at the end of his truncated pro debut, then returned there for the 2011 season. Yelich caught fire in the second half, batting .354/.423/.568 with 10 of his 15 homers. His dramatic 15th-inning home run in the opening game of the South Atlantic League playoffs set the Grasshoppers on the path to the Sally League title. He finished third in the SAL in batting (.312) and ranked among league leaders in doubles (32), total bases (223), steals (32), on-base percentage (.388) and OPS (.871). The Marlins named him their minor league player of the year.

Scouting Report: Florida loved Yelich's pure swing in high school and team officials are even more enamored of it now. He's a rhythm hitter with an advanced approach at the plate, already demonstrating an understanding of which pitches to attack and which to let go. He has quick hands, covers the zone well with his long arms and lines balls to all fields. Early in the season, he was getting beat on balls because he wasn't starting his swing soon enough. Once he worked out those timing issues and became more familiar with the league, his confidence and his performance took off. He also learned to condense his strike zone and hone in on pitches he could drive. Yelich has power to center field as well as to his pull side, and while he doesn't project as an elite slugger, he should be a threat for 25 homers annually once he fills out his lanky frame and learns to create more leverage in his swing. His solid-average to plus speed and baserunning acumen are even better than the Marlins had expected. He was caught just five times in 37 stolen-base attempts. A first baseman in high school, Yelich played both left and center at Greensboro. He's a glider in the outfield, covering ground with long strides. At times he still appears to be thinking instead of reacting instinctively in the outfield, but he has put in a lot of extra early work to improve his defense. His raw arm strength is average, though his throwing is hindered by poor mechanics and a long arm stroke, which Florida believes can be ironed out. Some amateur scouts thought his arm would limit him to first, but that's no longer the case. The organization loves Yelich's attitude, work ethic and competitive nature.

The Future: Yelich should open 2012 at high Class A Jupiter, surrounded by the same teammates who helped him raise a flag in Greensboro. He's a good bet to advance faster than the rest of them, however, and may not need a full season in the Florida State League. While the Marlins plan to keep giving him time in center field, he projects as a left fielder with good range. His sweet swing, which has elicited comparisons to Will Clark, eventually should land him in the No. 3 spot in Florida's order.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Marlins (R) 24 3 9 1 1 0 3 2 7 1 0 .375 .423 .500
'10 Greensboro (LoA) 23 2 8 2 0 0 2 1 6 0 0 .348 .375 .435
'11 Greensboro (LoA) 461 73 144 32 1 15 77 55 102 32 5 .312 .388 .484
MILB Totals 508 78 161 35 2 15 82 58 115 33 5 .317 .389 .482
2. Marcell Ozuna, OF Born: Nov 12, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2008. Signed by: Sandy Nin.
Background: Ozuna led the short-season New York-Penn League with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs in 2010 despite striking out in 35 percent of his at-bats. He struggled early in 2011 but put it all together in the second half, hitting .310/.371/.585 with 15 homers. He batted .353 with three homers in seven playoff games as Greensboro won the South Atlantic League title.

Scouting Report: Ozuna wows scouts with his tools, especially his well above-average raw power and bazooka arm. Before 2011, he had lacked plate discipline and showed a particular susceptibility to breaking balls down out of the zone. After putting in extra time with Grasshoppers hitting coach Kevin Randel and learning to focus on finding pitches he could drive to the middle of the field, Ozuna took a huge step forward. He has slightly above-average speed and was caught only twice in 19 steal attempts last season. He uses his athleticism well in right field, where he shows above-average range and a strong arm, though his throwing accuracy can improve. The Marlins love his enthusiasm for the game.

The Future: Ozuna will advance to high Class A and attempt to maintain the gains he showed in the second half of 2011. His ability to manage the strike zone will dictate how quickly he moves.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'08 Marlins (R) 233 33 65 14 0 6 43 23 61 8 1 .279 .335 .416
'09 Marlins (R) 214 32 67 22 0 5 39 22 52 4 2 .313 .377 .486
'10 Greensboro (LoA) 25 3 4 0 0 1 2 2 10 0 0 .160 .222 .280
'10 Jamestown (SS) 270 53 72 11 2 21 60 17 94 3 1 .267 .314 .556
'11 Greensboro (LoA) 496 87 132 28 5 23 71 46 121 17 2 .266 .330 .482
MILB Totals 1238 208 340 75 7 56 215 110 338 32 6 .275 .334 .482
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP Born: Jul 31, 1992 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 215
Drafted: Alonso HS, Tampa, 2011 (1st round). Signed by: Brian Kraft.
Background: Fernandez fled Cuba in a speedboat with his mother and sister in 2008, finding freedom on their second escape attempt. He learned English after settling in Tampa, where he led Alonso High to two Florida 3-A championships in three years. The Marlins drafted him 14th overall last June and signed him to an above-slot $2 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline.

Scouting Report: Fernandez offers a power arsenal, starting with a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph and reaches as high as 97. His two-seamer doesn't sink as much as it bores in on righthanders. His four-seamer has a little run to it but at times comes in too straight. He throws both a sharp-breaking curveball and a hard slider, and he also shows feel for a promising changeup. Fernandez uses his lower half well, getting in position to explode through his hips. While he'll overthrow on occasion, leaving the ball up in the zone, his command projects as average to plus. Despite his size, he's a good athlete.

The Future: Fernandez will compete for a job in the Greensboro rotation during his first spring training. He profiles as a No. 2 starter in the big leagues, though he'll need time to develop.
Yr Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Marlins (R) 0 0 0.00 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 3 .143
'11 Jamestown (SS) 0 1 19.29 1 1 0 2 4 5 5 0 3 4 .364
MILB Totals 0 1 11.25 2 2 0 4 5 5 5 0 4 7 .294
4. Matt Dominguez, 3B Born: Aug 28, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 205
Drafted: Chatsworth (Calif.) HS, 2007 (1st round). Signed by: Tim McDonnell.
Background: The No. 1 prospect on this list a year ago, he entered spring training favored to win a starting job. But he batted just .190 and was reassigned to minor league camp, where a pitch broke his left elbow and cost him the first five weeks of the season.

Scouting Report: Dominguez's calling card always has been his defense. He possesses Gold Glove ability, with good anticipation, quick feet, smooth hands and a strong, accurate arm. He has yet to make the same kind of impact at the plate, however. Dominguez's hand-eye coordination works against him, as he believes he can put the bat on pitches he needs to let go. He gets tied up on the inner half and rarely drives balls. If he can become more selective and repeat his swing, he could become an average hitter with average power. He has below-average speed but good instincts.

The Future: After making his big league debut in September, Dominguez will challenge for the third-base job again but may need more time at Triple-A New Orleans before his bat is ready.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'07 Marlins (R) 20 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 .100 .136 .100
'07 Jamestown (SS) 37 3 7 2 0 1 4 1 12 0 0 .189 .211 .324
'08 Greensboro (LoA) 345 59 102 16 0 18 70 28 68 0 1 .296 .354 .499
'09 Jupiter (HiA) 381 49 100 25 1 11 53 38 68 1 0 .262 .333 .420
'09 Jacksonville (AA) 97 10 18 7 0 2 9 14 24 0 0 .186 .292 .320
'10 Jacksonville (AA) 504 61 127 34 2 14 81 56 96 0 2 .252 .333 .411
'11 Jupiter (HiA) 18 0 3 0 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 .167 .250 .167
'11 Jacksonville (AA) 15 1 2 0 0 0 1 3 2 0 0 .133 .316 .133
'11 New Orleans (AAA) 325 47 84 18 1 12 55 24 50 0 1 .258 .312 .431
'11 Florida (MAJ) 45 2 11 4 0 0 2 2 8 0 0 .244 .292 .333
MLB Totals 45 2 11 4 0 0 2 2 8 0 0 .244 .292 .333
MILB Totals 1742 230 445 102 4 58 277 166 325 1 4 .255 .325 .418
5. J.T. Realmuto, C Born: Mar 18, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Albert HS, Midwest City, Okla., 2010 (3rd round). Signed by: Steve Taylor.
Background: Also a star quarterback, Realmuto set national records as a high school senior in Oklahoma in 2010 with 88 hits and 119 RBIs, while batting .595 with 28 home runs. The Marlins signed him for $600,000 in the third round and moved him from shortstop to catcher. After he shortened his stride and started his hands in a better hitting position, he batted .299/.351/.519 in the second half of 2011 with all 12 of his homers—including one off a rehabbing Stephen Strasburg.

Scouting Report: Realmuto projects as a solid hitter, though he gets in trouble at times expanding his zone. He's still learning which pitches to drive and when to pull balls to tap into his average power. A gifted all-around athlete, his plus speed stands out for a catcher. With his agility, soft hands and strong arm, he has the tools to be an above-average defender. He threw out 42 percent of basestealers in 2011 while exhibiting 1.9-second pop times. He needs to get better on blocking pitches and committed 25 passed balls in 76 games, many a result of trying to keep pitches in the strike zone.

The Future: Realmuto will move a level at a time as he incorporates the many adjustments the Marlins have thrown at him. He has already supplanted 2008 first-rounder Kyle Skipworth as Florida's catcher of the future.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Marlins (R) 40 2 7 0 0 0 4 7 11 0 1 .175 .298 .175
'11 Greensboro (LoA) 348 46 100 16 3 12 49 26 78 13 6 .287 .347 .454
MILB Totals 388 48 107 16 3 12 53 33 89 13 7 .276 .342 .425
6. Chad James, LHP Born: Jan 23, 1991 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Yukon (Okla.) HS, 2009 (1st round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Background: James signed for $1.7 million at the deadline after being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. After going 5-10 at Greensboro in his pro debut, he began 2011 with a 0-13 record before winning five of his final seven decisions. His older brother Justin pitched briefly with the 2010 Athletics.

Scouting Report: After touching 95 mph in low Class A, James saw his fastball back up in 2011, ranging from 90-93 mph early in the season and down to 89-91 by the end. The heat and humidity of the Florida State League may have worn him down, and he also sacrificed velocity in an effort to gain more consistency with his delivery and command. His curveball was so unreliable that the Marlins took it away and asked him to focus on his slider, which he locates better. They also asked him to throw his straight changeup more frequently. As a result, he often pitched backward, which will help him in the long run but contributed to his ups and downs in 2011. He committed six errors in 27 starts and needs to field his position better.

The Future: It's time for James to put everything together and apply the lessons he learned in 2011. Whether his fastball returns will determine if his ceiling is as a No. 2 starter or mid-rotation option.
Yr Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Greensboro (LoA) 5 10 5.12 24 24 0 114 116 70 65 3 65 105 .253
'11 Jupiter (HiA) 5 15 3.80 27 27 0 149 173 77 63 12 51 124 .279
MILB Totals 10 25 4.38 51 51 0 263 289 289 128 15 116 229 .268
7. Rob Rasmussen, LHP Born: Apr 02, 1989 B-T: R-L Ht.: 6-10 Wt.: 155
Drafted: UCLA, 2010 (2nd round). Signed by: Tim McDonnell.
Background: Rasmussen was the No. 3 starter on UCLA's College World Series runner-up team in 2010, pitching behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, who went on to be the first and third picks in the 2011 draft. Rasmussen pitched just seven innings after signing and essentially made his pro debut in 2011, when he posted a 5.91 ERA in April and a 3.26 mark afterward at Jupiter.

Scouting Report: Rasmussen owns four solid-average pitches, with a 90-93 mph fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. His fastball command was poor early in the season, when he worked up in the zone too frequently and wasn't able to get away with it like he did in college. He learned to keep his fastball down and move it all around the zone, and he also did a better job of pitching off his heater. Rasmussen's 84-87 mph slider is his best secondary pitch, though he still needs to improve the angle on it. He gets nice two-plane break on his upper-70s curve. He isn't afraid to work inside.

The Future: Rasmussen will move up from Jupiter to Double-A Jacksonville in 2012 and may not need much more than another year in the minors. He has the full repertoire to be a solid starter, but if that doesn't work out he should at least end up as a situational lefthanded reliever.
Yr Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'10 Greensboro (LoA) 0 0 1.35 5 0 0 7 6 2 1 0 2 4 .231
'11 Jupiter (HiA) 12 10 3.64 28 27 0 148 140 75 60 10 71 118 .239
MILB Totals 12 10 3.54 33 27 0 155 146 146 61 10 73 122 .239
8. Noah Perio, 2B Born: Nov 14, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 170
Drafted: HS—Concord, Calif., 2009 (39th round). Signed by: John Hughes.
Background: Because he was better known as wide receiver/defensive back in high school and had a baseball commitment to Texas, Perio fell all the way to the 39th round of the 2009 draft. The Marlins made a late push and signed him for $150,000, and he since has blossomed into their top middle-infield prospect.

Scouting Report: The wiry, athletic Perio makes good contact and keeps the barrel of his bat level and in the zone. While he doesn't strike out a lot, the Marlins would like him to be more selective, looking for pitches to drive and taking more walks. He quit hurrying his lower half and learned to trust his strong hands and wrists, finally tapping into his power and slugging .458 in the second half of 2011. He's an average runner with good instincts, but he won't be a prolific basestealer. Perio began his pro career as a shortstop, but his fringy arm dictated a move to second base, where he has good range but committed 24 errors in 114 games at Greensboro. He has the work ethic to become an average defender.

The Future: Perio projects as an offensive-minded second baseman, a No. 2 hitter with good pop that should continue to improve as he fills out. He'll take the next step to high Class A in 2012.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'09 Marlins (R) 14 2 6 1 1 0 5 0 0 1 0 .429 .429 .643
'10 Jamestown (SS) 225 30 58 10 0 0 31 17 25 7 0 .258 .313 .302
'11 Greensboro (LoA) 488 76 144 30 3 6 52 19 64 15 6 .295 .323 .406
MILB Totals 727 108 208 41 4 6 88 36 89 23 6 .286 .322 .378
9. Scott Cousins, OF Born: Jan 22, 1985 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 195
Drafted: San Francisco, 2006 (3rd round). Signed by: John Hughes.
Background: A two-way star in college, Cousins climbed through the Marlins system a level at a time. He earned a September callup in 2010 and made the Opening Day roster last year, though he had a poor camp and benefited from an injury to DeWayne Wise. He served as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter, making his biggest headlines when he flattened Giants catcher Buster Posey on a play at the plate. Hip and ankle injuries nagged Cousins even before a bulging disk in his back ended his season in mid-June.

Scouting Report: Cousins has solid tools across the board, projecting as a possible .280 hitter with 15-20 homers if he can work his way into the everyday lineup. One of the best athletes in the system, he has the speed to steal 20 bases and enough range to patrol all three outfield spots. His plus arm is strong enough for right field. His bugaboo throughout his career has been a lack of consistency, which was only exacerbated by a bench role. When he's cold, he tends to chase pitches out of the zone.

The Future: Cousins has the talent to make a bigger impact than he made in 2011, but he'll need better health and an opportunity.
Yr Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'06 Jamestown (SS) 90 11 19 1 0 1 6 4 17 3 1 .211 .253 .256
'07 Greensboro (LoA) 421 69 123 25 0 18 74 38 92 16 7 .292 .358 .480
'08 Marlins (R) 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 .000 .000 .000
'08 Jupiter (HiA) 191 35 58 9 2 9 29 20 47 11 3 .304 .370 .513
'08 Carolina (AA) 91 15 24 7 1 1 9 10 28 4 1 .264 .350 .396
'09 Jacksonville (AA) 482 60 127 31 11 12 74 42 107 27 9 .263 .323 .448
'10 New Orleans (AAA) 410 74 117 20 5 14 49 32 78 12 4 .285 .336 .461
'10 Florida (MAJ) 37 2 11 2 2 0 2 1 13 0 0 .297 .316 .459
'11 Florida (MAJ) 52 5 7 1 0 1 4 6 21 1 1 .135 .224 .212
'11 Jupiter (HiA) 13 2 4 0 0 0 2 3 4 0 0 .308 .438 .308
'11 New Orleans (AAA) 9 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 3 0 0 .222 .300 .222
MLB Totals 89 7 18 3 2 1 6 7 34 1 1 .202 .260 .315
MILB Totals 1713 267 474 93 19 55 244 150 381 73 25 .277 .338 .450
10. Adam Conley, LHP Born: May 24, 1990 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 185
Drafted: Washington State, 2011 (2nd round). Signed by: Gabe Sandy.
Background: After serving as Washington State's primary closer as a sophomore and setting a school record with 12 saves, Conley worked as the Cougars' Friday night starter last spring and posted a 3.50 ERA. He impressed the Marlins enough that they popped him in the second round and inked him to a $625,000 bonus.

Scouting Report: Conley's heavy, two-seam fastball operates at 89-91 mph with good life, and he also throws a 92-94 mph four-seamer that hit 97 mph when he worked out of the bullpen. His sinker has the makings of a plus pitch, as does his straight changeup, which he turns over and fades away from righthanders. He didn't use his slider much in his days as a reliever, so it lags behind his other pitches, often just rolling up to the plate and lacking snap. Conley has a quick arm and some deception to his delivery, using a lower arm slot and throwing across his body. Despite the funkiness, he has good command. His frame is wiry and he'll need to get in the weight room to add strength.

The Future: If Conley can refine his slider, he has a chance to become a solid No. 3 or 4 starter. If he doesn't, he still should develop into a reliable major league bullpen option. He may not open 2012 in high Class A after just getting his feet wet in Rookie ball, but he should get there by the end of the season.
Yr Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Marlins (R) 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 2 .143
MILB Totals 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 .143