2012 Florida Marlins Top 10 Prospects Chat With James Bailey





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.

Moderator: James Bailey will take your Marlins questions beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

James Bailey: It's 2:00 and it's time to chat. Let's get rolling!

    Ben (Leland Grove): Would you consider this list of 10 to be better or worse than last year's crop? Why?

James Bailey: Better, though it's still not one of the stronger systems in the game. Dominguez was #1 last year mostly because guys like Stanton, Morrison and Sanchez had exhausted their eligibility. Yelich is there this year because he's an exciting hitter. Ozuna, Realmuto, and Perio all also have nice upside and came on strong in the second half. Jose Fernandez instantly became the top starter in the system when drafted this June. The system overall feels a little deeper to me now, but that's partially because they didn't graduate many players to the big leagues in 2011. Most of the talent was at the lower levels this year, particularly Greensboro and the GCL.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Had they not been traded to the White Sox, would Jhan Marinez and Ozzie Martinez have ranked on your Top 10? Your thoughts on their seasons?

James Bailey: I don't think so. Both were solidly in it last year, but a combination of them sliding and other passing them probably would have pushed both out of the top 10. Marinez just hasn't commanded his fastball and slider like he needs to. Great arm, but too often the ball doesn't wind up where it needs to be. Martinez took a mystifying step back this season after such a strong 2010. It was almost like he lost confidence in his game, though it should have been at an all-time peak coming into the year.

    William (Pensacola, Florida): No more Logan Morrison, no more Mike Stanton, has the Marlins system ever been this barren ?

James Bailey: See my first response. I actually think it's coming around a little as compared to last year, though it's got a ways to go to get back where it needs to be. Most of the talent is at the lower levels of the system. A lot of things can happen on the way up the ladder. If guys like Yelich, Ozuna, Realmuto, and Perio all keep on track as they move up, and Jose Fernandez, Jose Urena, Austin Brice, Mason Hope, etc., establish themselves, this looks a lot better next year. But they do lack depth, which makes every prospect count more than in a deeper system.

    Grant (NYC): Did pitchers Charlie Lowell and Mason Hope get top 10 consideration? Which one came closer?

James Bailey: Not top 10, but they were considered for the top 30. Hope made it. Lowell's a candidate for next year.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Is Kyle Skipworth still a Top 30 prospect to you?

James Bailey: Yes, but he needs to do something in 2012 or he'll slide out of the list. Skipworth clearly wasn't ready for Double-A offensively in 2011. Any gains he made in 2010 were lost as he struggled to stay over .200 most of the season. The Marlins chose to jump him over high-A Jupiter and it didn't work out. I think part of that decision was the Florida State League is a tough place to play, so the gap between Jupiter and Jacksonville isn't as great as it might be in some organizations. I imagine if their high-A team were in the California League, he'd have gone out there and had a much different season. Defensively, he made significant progress this year, particularly in his game-calling skills and ability to control a game. But if he can't hit, that won't matter. He's looking better in limited action in the Arizona Fall League, but that's the Arizona Fall League, so I wouldn't read too much into that. Next year is a big one for him.

    Chuck (Ohio): Will Issac Galloway make your top 30? How does he fit into the Marlins future plans, if at all? It looks like he is all tools but no production.

James Bailey: Galloway's an enigma. He's got exciting tools, but he struggles to control the strikezone, to the extreme. He struck out 119 times and drew just 14 walks this year in 110 games at Greensboro. You have to remember he's missed significant time in both 2009 and 2010 due to injuries, so this was the most he'd ever played. But if he doesn't learn when to swing and when to take soon, he'll have a hard time advancing, no matter how toolsy he looks running down balls in center field. He's in the 25-30 range right now, but his hold is tenuous enough that if the Marlins acquire a few nice prospects before the Handbook goes to press, he could be bumped.

    Ike (Miami): What did scouts have to say about RHP Jose Urena? Did he make your 30?

James Bailey: Not only did he make the top 30, he was a near miss on the top 10. Some of that, of course, is a factor of a lack of starting pitching in the upper levels of the organization. But Urena has a nice arm with a lot of upside. Loose arm action, projectable frame. He sits 92-94 and can run it up to 96-97. He flashes a plus slider at times, but it's very inconsistent at this point. Some nights he's almost unhittable, some nights he totally loses his command. He's young and needs experience.

    JD (AZ): James, how is the catching depth in the Marlins farm? Where does Jobduan Morales figure into their depth chart?

James Bailey: After Realmuto and Skipworth, I'd rank guys like Austin Barnes (2011 draft) and Wilfredo Gimenez ahead of Morales, based mainly on defense. Morales is an interesting hitter, but he's not especially gifted defensively. He can play 1B as well, but he doesn't profile as well as a 1B. As a hitter, he's got gap power from both sides and he understands hitting enough to post a decent average. But that's not going to unseat anyone at 1B, so he needs to get serious about working on his catching. I'll toss Tony Caldwell in there as another sleeper candidate at catcher.

    Eric (Tampa, FL): Is Jesus Solorzano someone we should keep an eye on?

James Bailey: Definitely. He's an exciting player who grades average or above in all five tools, with the range to play center field and a strong enough arm for right. He'll go to camp competing for a spot on the Greensboro roster, which I imagine he'll make. With a strong 2012 I could see him on the top 10 next year.

    Allan H (Benton, AR): How close was Jose Ceda to the top 10? Did he miss because he's a relief only guy?

James Bailey: Ceda was close. He's got the ceiling to be a top 10 guy, but he's been inconsistent. If you remember, he showed up last spring out of shape and overweight and was held out of action until he got in baseball condition. He pitched very well at times in New Orleans, and his final line there was impressive. But there's a bit of risk in him, given the long path he's taken thus far. If he puts it together and keeps it together, he's a nice set up man, possibly even closer.

    Wendy (Freeport): Could we get a brief assessment of Ryan Reiger? thanks for the chat

James Bailey: You're welcome. These are always fun. Rieger is a guy the Marlins are high on. They really like his swing and project him to hit for a nice average, though he may not have the power typically expected of a first baseman. He's a hair below average as a runner, but has enough speed and athleticism to play a corner outfield spot down the road. He's someone to keep an eye on in 2012. I expect he'll start 2012 at Greensboro.

    Lee (Alabama): I know the better pitching seems to be in the lower levels, but do Villanueva, Koehler or O'Gara fit into the Marlins plans in 2012 or 13?

James Bailey: I'm skeptical on Villanueva, particularly for 2012. He just didn't pitch with any effectiveness this year in New Orleans. He got away from what worked in 2010. His whole key is command, and he didn't command his pitches. His stuff is average at best and he has little margin for error. Koehler has better stuff, though he struggled quite a bit at New Orleans in 2011 as well. He got too reliant on his secondary stuff and wasn't able to command the bottom half of the strike zone with any regularity. If he can improve both of those, he's the closest of these three to helping. O'Gara may be repeating Double-A in 2012, and I don't see him helping until 2013.

    Dara (Dallas, TX): Do you anticipate Marcell Ozuna striking out a ton in the pitcher-friendly FSL next year? If so, are the Marlins likely to keep him on the slow track?

James Bailey: This is going to be a telling year for Ozuna. If he can keep doing what he did in the second half of 2011, I love his future. After the break he struck out 56 times in 258 at-bats, or 21.7 percent of his at-bats. Not great, but not terrible, especially when you consider he struck out 104 times in 295 at-bats (35.3%) in 2010. That's a significant improvement. In 2010 he would swing at just about anything, and was particularly prone to wailing at breaking pitches down out of the zone. He learned last year to let the ball come to him. As long as he doesn't revert to his old habits, I think he'll be fine in the FSL. The pace of his climb through the system will be dictated by what he does. If he has a great first half, I could see them moving him to Jacksonville by the end of the year. But they won't rush him.

    John (Miami Gardens): Dominguez hasn't shown enough bat thus far to warrant an everyday ML job...at what point do we go out and try to find an alternative and let Matt start the year in New Orleans?

James Bailey: How about now? He clearly wasn't ready last winter. I'm not convinced he's ready now. I like him a lot better in Miami in June or July than I do in April. I do think there's enough bat there to eventually be a solid starting player in the big leagues, especially given what he brings defensively. But a stop-gap, short-term guy might be a good idea.

    Bill (Vero Beach): Any sleeper arms at AA or AAA that could surprise in 2012?

James Bailey: Not so much in 2012. Jose Alvarez (LHP) and Omar Poveda (RHP) both missed the top 30 this year, but have a chance to contribute at the big leagues eventually. I'll cheat a little and throw Michael Brady on the table. He made 1 appearance at Double-A in 2011, but spent most of the year at Greensboro. Great control. Nice upside as a setup man. Corey Madden might be ready soon to help in the bullpen. Pete Andrelczyk could as well. They don't strike me as guys with a lot of upside, but it takes a lot of arms to get through 162 games.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Who would you consider to be the biggest sleeper prospect overall in the Marlins' system?

James Bailey: More sleepers. Everyone loves sleepers. But define "sleeper." If you mean someone outside the top 10 who has a chance to explode in 2012, I'd go with Urena or Solorzano. If you want someone who didn't make our top 30, I kind of like Danny Black as a guy with some tools who could move up, especially given the void of middle infielders in the system. And I'm a Kevin Cravey fan. He missed most of the year this season due to elbow and shoulder issues that weren't serious enough for surgery but kept him from pitching. Great curve ball and he gets up to 95 with the fastball. Non-drafted free agent signed in 2010. Great story of a longshot who could rise if he can stay healthy.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): What can you tell me about Kyle Jensen? Was he close to the top 10? Is he considered a legitimate prospect? He showed very nice power this year. Can his bat be enough to carry him to the majors?

James Bailey: Rochester in the house! (I'm chatting from my home in Greece, NY, just outside Rochester.) Jensen is winning people over. The Marlins liked him all along, but I don't think they expected his 2011 power show in the FSL. He's in the top 30, but he didn't make the top 10 because he's not as athletic as a lot of the guys ahead of him. His power is also more a factor of strength than bat speed, though he timed pitches well enough this year to send some upper 90s fastballs over the fence. Scouts outside of the organization don't seem to be buying him yet. If he can replicate 2011 at a higher level, maybe he'll change some of those opinions. Can his bat carry him? It will have to. He's a passable corner outfielder, good enough that he wouldn't have to be a DH, but his power is far and away his best tool.

    Dan (Boise): What are the chances Ozuna starts in the OF in 2013?

James Bailey: Low. I wouldn't project him to reach the big leagues until late in 2013 at the earliest. He's got a lot of upside, but he's not going to push Mike Stanton out of right field, and he's got to compete with Yelich, Morrison, possibly Coghlan, Jensen, etc., in left.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Pitching prospect Kyle Winters was ranked in the top 30 prospect list in 2008 and 2009 but then dropped out. He seemed to be back in form in Greensboro in 2011. Does he make the prospect list once again?

James Bailey: Winters missed all of 2010 and part of 2009 due to injuries. He pitched effectively this year in Greensboro, but it wasn't enough to earn a spot in the top 30. For one thing, he already did the SAL, back in 2007. He moved up to Jupiter for 2008 and climbed all the way to Double-A in 2009 before getting hurt. His 2011 showed he was healthy, but he basically replicated his '07 Greensboro season. His stuff is average, and his control is a little above average. Let's see what he does as he climbs back up the system.

    David (Jacksonville Beach): Where does RHP Joey O'Gara rank in the Marlins system? I saw him start the final game for the Fish in Spring Training and he impressed at times this summer, placing among Double A leaders in innings pitched. Future starter or bullpen help and what's his ETA?

James Bailey: More O'Gara love. He's somewhere in the 25-30 range. He's a potential back-of-the-rotation starter who could fall back into a relief role if that doesn't work out. His calling card is his sinker. He may repeat Double-A this year. He's been pitching a level ahead of where the Marlins projected him for two years in a row now, and he might benefit from having a chance to catch up a little on some of the subtleties of pitching. I'd put a 2013-14 ETA on him.

    Al (NYC): Seems like Yelich has a very similar profile to former Marlins 1st rounder Jeremy Hermida. How would you compare the two players at a similar stage and what does Yelich need to do to avoid the same fate as Hermida (4A/utility OF)?

James Bailey: That's not a bad comparison, though I'm sure Yelich and the Marlins will prefer a different ending to his story. Yelich had better numbers at Greensboro this year than Hermida had there in 2003. Hermida may have been more patient, possibly too patient, of a hitter. I give Yelich a defensive edge as well. How to avoid the same fate? Keep progressing. He projects as significantly more than a 4A/4th OF. Then again, so did Hermida. That's what makes scouting such an inexact science.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Several hurlers from Jamestown will be with the Greensboro staff this coming year. Who is your favorite?

James Bailey: Urena. I like Josh Hodges a bit as well. He made some nice strides in 2011. I have a feeling some of the other Greensboro pitchers will be jumping from the GCL, possibly Jose Fernanez, Austin Brice, and Mason Hope. If those three, plus Urena and Hodges all make the Greensboro rotation, whew, that will be a nice team to watch once again. I'll toss Helpi Reyes out as a potential sleeper who didn't rack up great numbers in Jamestown this year, but he stood out to one scout I talked with who liked his changeup and saw a potential No. 5 starter or swingman in him.

    Mike (Orlando): Thanks for the chat. I like what I read about Realmuto, especially since he's so new to catching. Where can you find caught stealing percentage numbers for minor league catchers? I wanted to see where he ranks among other top prospects and also Kyle Skipworth at the same point in his career.

James Bailey: www.baseball-reference.com has fielding numbers for minor league players, including CS numbers for catchers. Realmuto nailed 42 percent this year, which is phenomenal, especially given his inexperience behind the plate. The Marlins absolutely love this guy.

    Karl of Delaware (Greensboro, Delaware): He of the most prevalent baseball surname, Rodriguez, put up good pitching numbers in the GCL. I'm talking Jose. What are his long range prospects?

James Bailey: Rodriguez has a chance. This was his second year in the GCL, and he had nice numbers there in 2010 as well. He has good control, pitches inside, outside, knows what he wants to do. He throws a 92-94 mph FB, nice curve, good sinker. His numbers this year are all that more impressive when you factor in he was just returning from Tommy John surgery after hurting his elbow in July 2010. Another GCL arm I like is Ramon Del Orbe, who made his U.S. debut there this summer.

    Frank (Chicago): If Stanton has "80" power, what does Ozuna grade?

James Bailey: I'd go 60 on Ozuna for raw power. Stanton blasts moon shots. Ozuna's aren't in that class, but he hits the ball plenty hard.

    Steve (Sarasota): If his history of lying on immigration papers keeps Juan Carlos Oviedo (nee Leo Nunez) out of the U.S., who do you think will emerge as their closer? Are Chris Hatcher and Mike Dunn possibilities?

James Bailey: Hatcher could be, though he might not be ready yet. He was great in Double-A, but he wasn't as consistent with his pitches in a brief big league trial. Jose Ceda could also play into the mix. He bounced back from a poor start to 2011 with a strong Triple-A campaign. If Oviedo/Nunez isn't the man—I could see him being non-tendered—it's possible the Marlins go outside the organization for a closer.

    PT (IBC): I see Chris Hatcher is down as the closer in 2015. Where did he land in the top 30 and can you give us a snapshot on the ex-catcher?

James Bailey: Hatcher's in that 11-15 range. Despite being new to pitching, he has a natural feel for throwing strikes, though there�s room to refine his command, particularly down in the zone. His fastball runs 93-95 mph, and he works in a hard slider, which could give him a second above-average pitch though it's inconsistent at this point. His straight changeup is already usable and has a chance to become an average offering.

    Oscar (Miami, FL): What about Grant Dayton LHP? Low to mid 90's lefty who struck out 100 out of the pen in Greensboro?

James Bailey: Man, I've been waiting for someone to ask about Dayton. This guy's got a nice arm. He's aggressive with his fastball, which sits at 91-94 mph and reaches 96. He flat out beats hitters with it, getting swings and misses on fastballs in the strike zone. He gets good depth on his slider, which is his No. 2 pitch. His changeup is serviceable but it's not as good as his other two offerings and he doesn't use it often. He projects as a setup man, though there are those in the organization who would like to see what he could do as a starter, which is what he did in college.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): Does Rasmussen look more like a 2/3 starter or a lefty reliever? Would the Marlins rush him up as a reliever and eventually make him a starter (ala CJ Wilson)?

James Bailey: I wouldn't go as high as a No. 2 starter on Rob Rasmussen. More like a 3. Gut feeling, he winds up in the bullpen, but even if that's the way Florida leans, I think they leave him as a starter for now. What C.J. Wilson did is unusual. It's much easier to go from starting to relieving than the other way around. Starting also allows a pitcher to work on his secondary pitches more than he would in a relief role, which is why most teams advance guys as starters if there's any question about their future role.

    Lance (Miami): With the state of the farm system, big league club and the recent operations changes, is the Marlins scouting department and management still considered one of the best in baseball?

James Bailey: Two things. 1. These are largely the same guys who built up a system that was deep enough to populate most of the big league roster. 2. They're not the ones who set their own budget. If you handed the Marlins' scouting department the same budget some other teams are using, we'd be looking at a deeper, stronger system. There's no question guys like Dan Jennings, Stan Meek, and even Jim Fleming, who was reassigned from his duties as farm director this fall, know talent. I'm sure they wouldn't object to seeing Jeffrey Loria loosen the purse strings a little. That said, they were willing to spend more on this year's draft, but lost their 3rd and 4th round picks to college. They had a deal worked out for 3rd rounder Connor Barron for seven figures, but when MLB made everyone wait to sign above-slot deals until mid-August, he changed his mind and went to school. Tyler Palmer (4th round) injured his hand pretty seriously, which gave the Marlins second thoughts about signing him. Had they inked those guys, their overall bonus numbers this year would rank quite a bit higher and the system would look a little deeper.

    Jorge (FLA): James, does Joey O'Gara's high hits to innings and low K ratio reflect a pitcher learning at a high level?

James Bailey: I think that's a huge factor right there. As I mentioned above, his original development plan didn't call for him pitching at Double-A in 2011. He was at extended spring training in 2010 when the Marlins needed a spot starter at Jupiter. He did well and wound up staying there all year. He survived both years, but he wasn't necessarily ready to be pitching at those levels. He won't likely ever be a high strikeout pitcher, because his game is ground balls, but his ratio this year was awfully low (72 K in 158 IP).

    Kaz (Edison NJ): Who is the better prospect, Yelich or Josh Bell? Thanks.

James Bailey: I assume you mean the younger Josh Bell, who just signed with the Pirates for $5 million, and not the Orioles farmhand. Yelich and Bell both project as impact hitters, though Bell is a switch-hitter and Yelich hits lefty. Give the ceiling edge to Bell, but it's hard to really compare them until Bell actually plays.

    Harry (Ft Lauderdale, FL): Assuming he continues on his torrid pace, about how many years from the Majors is Yelich?

James Bailey: I could see him reaching the majors late in 2013. He's very polished, but he still needs a lot of at-bats along the way. With a good first half in Jupiter in 2011, he could earn a bump to Jacksonville. Unless someone above him, or a couple of someones, gets traded, 1B/LF is a crowded picture, so there's no sense in rushing him.

James Bailey: Thanks for all the questions today. We covered a lot of ground. I really enjoyed it. We're just starting with the organizations. Two down, 28 to go. Lots of good chats to come.