2013 Miami 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.

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After years of frugality, the Marlins stole the headlines at the 2011 Winter Meetings. They lavished $191 million worth of contracts on free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, and even made runs at Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

Miami's plan was to make the first season in new Marlins Park one to remember. Owner Jeffrey Loria's sudden largesse seemed a fitting thank-you for a stadium largely financed by the public.

The goodwill was fleeting. Eleven months later, all three players had followed embattled manager Ozzie Guillen out the door.

The disappointing Bell was dumped on the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade in October, one month before Reyes and Beuhrle went to the Blue Jays in a landscape-shifting, 12-player blockbuster. Combined with in-season deals that shipped former face of the franchise Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers and Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers, the moves left the big league roster in smoldering ruins, angering both fans and remaining players alike.

Ironically, the Marlins' first significant swap of 2012 added a veteran bat at the expense of prospects. With a 39-42 record on July 4, they picked up Carlos Lee from the Astros in exchange for third baseman Matt Dominguez and lefthander Rob Rasmussen. Just two weeks later, however, a five-game losing skid flipped the switch to rebuilding mode. Sanchez and Infante brought pitchers Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn and catcher Rob Brantly from Detroit. Two days after that, the underperforming Ramirez went to the Dodgers for righthanders Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough. In other deadline deals for Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez, Miami scored third baseman Zack Cox, center fielder Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive-balance lottery pick.

By season's end, Brantly, Eovaldi, Hernandez and Turner were regulars in a Marlins lineup and rotation that barely resembled those the team opened the season with. Guillen, whose ill-advised profession of love of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro earned him a five-game suspension less than a week into the season, was fired in late October. A 69-93 last-place finish was hardly what Miami hoped for when it traded two prospects for Guillen and gave him a four-year, $10 million contract.

Then came the bombshell.

While the Reyes/Buehrle trade completed the decimation of the big league roster—Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck and Josh Johnson also went to Toronto—it did beef up a thin farm system. The Marlins added four prospects in outfielder Jake Marisnick, lefthander Justin Nicolino, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria and righty Anthony DeSclafani. Miami also picked up three veterans in Henderson Alvarez, Yunel Escobar and Jeff Mathis, then spun Escobar to the Rays for middle infielder Derek Dietrich.

The cream of the system's existing talent mostly played together at high Class A Jupiter in 2012, finishing runner-up in the Florida State League playoffs. The Hammerheads' prospect-laden lineup included outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and catcher J.T. Realmuto. They were joined at midseason by righthander Jose Fernandez and lefthander Adam Conley, who were promoted after dominating in low Class A.

Fernandez and Yelich give the Marlins two true impact talents. The club's last three first-rounders (Yelich, Fernandez, lefthander Andrew Heaney) rank as its best prospects, though the upper levels of the system are feeling the effects of disappointing drafts in 2008-09.

1. 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
Jose FernandezBackground: It took four tries before a 15-year-old Fernandez, his mother and his sister finally escaped Cuba via speedboat in 2008. As punishment for their failed attempts, he was expelled from school, kicked off the baseball team and briefly jailed. When waves swept his mother overboard, Fernandez dove in to rescue her, swimming back to the boat with her clinging to his neck. After a harrowing 36-hour journey to Mexico they reached the United States and reunited with his father, who had fled three years earlier. Fernandez learned English after settling in Tampa, where he led Alonso High to two Florida 6-A state titles in three years. The 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft, he signed for an above-slot $2 million bonus. That looks like a bargain after he ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the low Class A South Atlantic and high Class A Florida State leagues in his first full pro season, leading the minors with an overall 0.93 WHIP.

Scouting Report: Fernandez's confidence—or cockiness—earns him comparisons to Roger Clemens. It's not arrogance if you can back it up, which Fernandez can. Numerous scouts cited his stuff as the best of any hurler in the 2012 Futures Game. His four-seam fastball sits at 94-95 mph and touches 99 with unbelievable explosion. Using an easy arm action, he'll dial his velocity up and down and climb the ladder on hitters. He also mixes in a 92-93 mph two-seamer to induce groundouts. Fernandez also can overmatch hitters with a hard three-quarters breaking ball that he can run up to 85 mph. He can command it for both called strikes and swinging misses, and he'll throw it any count. He also can use a true slider that's effective. He flashes a plus changeup with deception and nice fade, though he doesn't consistently command it down in the strike zone. With so many weapons to choose from, Fernandez doesn't always throw the right pitch in every situation, though he's getting better at letting a hitter's reaction to certain pitches determine which ones he sees the rest of the night. The Marlins rave about his work ethic, aptitude and drive to win. In one May start, he struck out six hitters in the first two innings, then fanned just two more while working into the eighth. When asked about his change in approach, he told a coach he began pitching to contact to keep his pitch count low so he could stay in the game longer. That kind of maturity is uncommon for a player in his first full year as a pro. Strong and durable, Fernandez had plenty left in the tank when the season concluded. Much of his power comes from his strong lower half, which allows him to explode through his hips. He has good athleticism for his size, though he'll have to watch his conditioning as he ages. The only hiccup in his 2012 season came after his midseason promotion, when he tried to overpower FSL hitters at times instead of simply trusting his stuff.

The Future: Fernandez might tempt the big league staff to keep him during spring training, but he'll probably open 2013 in Double-A Jacksonville. He could reach Miami by midseason and has the stuff and mindset to become a true No. 1 starter.

Year 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
'12 Greensboro (LoA) 7 0 1.59 14 14 0 79 51 16 14 2 18 99 .177
'12 Jupiter (HiA) 7 1 1.96 11 11 0 55 38 12 12 0 17 59 .187
Minor League Totals 14 2 2.02 27 27 0 138 94 94 31 2 39 165 .185

2. Christian Yelich, of Born: Dec 5, 1991 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 189
Drafted: Westlake HS, Westlake Village, Calif., 2010 (1st round).  Signed by: Tim McDonnell
Christian YelichBackground: Since signing for an above-slot $1.7 million bonus as the 23rd overall pick in 2010, Yelich has been named Marlins minor league player of the year in each of his two full pro seasons. He topped the Florida State League in slugging (.519) and OPS (.923) and finished second in hitting (.330) in 2012 despite missing time with an elbow injury and a concussion.

Scouting Report: Yelich has the pure swing of a future batting champion and an advanced approach. Quick, strong hands allow him to line balls to all fields, though he makes a particular effort to stay in the middle of the diamond. While he projects to hit more for average than power, some scouts envision 25-homer potential once he fills out. Yelich uses his plus speed well on the bases, where he has succeeded on 53 of 64 (83 percent) pro steal attempts. It also plays well in center fields, where he gets good jumps and can run balls down in the gaps. A long stroke has hampered his throwing since high school, but extra repetitions and improved footwork mean his arm plays as average. The Marlins love his attitude and competitive nature.

The Future: Yelich's defensive progress has silenced any talk of having to move to left field. He should anchor the middle of Miami's outfield and batting order soon. His next stop is Double-A.

Year 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
'12 Marlins (R) 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .250
'12 Jupiter (HiA) 397 76 131 29 5 12 48 49 85 20 6 .330 .404 .519
Minor League Totals 909 154 293 64 7 27 130 107 200 53 11 .322 .395 .497

3. Andrew Heaney, lhp Born: Jun 5, 1991 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Oklahoma State, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Steve Taylor
Andrew HeaneyBackground: The top college lefthander available in the 2012 draft, Heaney led NCAA Division I with 140 strikeouts in 118 innings last spring. Negotiations turned acrimonious after the Marlins selected him nine overall, and they announced three days before the July 13 deadline that they wouldn't sign him. They did, however, at slightly below pick value for $2.6 million.

Scouting Report: Heaney got better with each start, with his fastball climbing from 88-90 mph after the layoff to touching 97 in his final pro outing. It should settle at 90-94, and he commands it easily to both sides of the plate. His 83-85 mph slider is already at least a plus pitch, though he's working to give it more deception with late, hard break that will finish out of the hitting zone. His changeup improved in league after Miami got him to finish with his upper half coming more toward the plate. Heaney has a loose arm, effortless delivery and excellent control. While he worked to gain strength coming into his junior season at Oklahoma State, he could stand to add more muscle to his lean frame.

The Future: Heaney will open his first full pro season at high Class A Jupiter and may not stay there long. He projects as a No. 2 or 3 starter who could join the Marlins at some point in 2014.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'12 Marlins (R) 0 0 2.57 2 2 0 7 7 2 2 0 2 9 .250
'12 Greensboro (LoA) 1 2 4.95 4 4 0 20 25 15 11 0 4 21 .294
Minor League Totals 1 2 4.33 6 6 0 27 32 32 13 0 6 30 .283

4. Jake Marisnick, of Born: Mar 30, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Poly HS, Riverside, Calif., 2009 (3rd round).  Signed by: Rick Ingalls
Jake MarisnickBackground: Signed for $1 million as a Blue Jays third-rounder in 2009, Marisnick had a breakout .320/.392/.496 season at low Class A Lansing two years later. He found the going rougher in 2012 while reaching Double-A, then became the top prospect included in the 12-player blockbuster that sent Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle from Miami to Toronto.

Scouting Report: Marisnick has the potential to be a five-tool player, though questions linger about his bat. He has made adjustments to eliminate a hitch in his swing, but still has a big frame that leads to a long stroke with a lot of moving parts. He needs to do a better job of staying short to the ball, letting pitches travel deep and avoiding chasing them out of the strike zone. It's hard to find fault with the rest of Marisnick's package. His strength and ability to backspin the ball give him plus power. His speed, center-field defense and arm strength all grade as above average. He has a knack for stealing bases, succeeding on 84 of 100 pro attempts. Even if he loses a step, he'll easily fit the profile for right field.

The Future: Marisnick will return to Double-A at age 22. If he can make the necessary offensive adjustments, he's on target to reach Miami during the 2014 season. He's talented enough defensively to push Christian Yelich to left field.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Blue Jays (R) 122 17 35 12 0 3 14 13 18 14 1 .287 .373 .459
'10 Lansing (LoA) 127 16 28 8 2 1 12 9 37 9 2 .220 .298 .339
'11 Lansing (LoA) 462 68 148 27 6 14 77 43 91 37 8 .320 .392 .496
'12 Dunedin (HiA) 266 41 70 18 7 6 35 26 55 10 5 .263 .349 .451
'12 New Hampshire (AA) 223 25 52 11 3 2 15 11 45 14 4 .233 .286 .336
Minor League Totals 1200 167 333 76 18 26 153 102 246 84 20 .278 .351 .436

5. Marcell Ozuna, of Born: Nov 12, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190
Signed: Dominican Republic '08 Signed by: Sandy Nin
Marcell OzunaBackground: Despite not going deep in July, Ozuna led the Florida State League in homers (24)—as well as in runs (89), RBIs (95) and total bases (233)—in 2012. He has topped 20 homers in each of the least three seasons and nearly replicated his 2011 stat line despite moving from cozy low Class A Greensboro to cavernous Jupiter.

Scouting Report: Ozuna oozes tools, particularly with his plus-plus raw power and a cannon arm. He has the power to drive the ball well out of any part of the park, though he tends to get pull-happy at times, flying open with his front side instead of staying back and punishing the ball. Plate-discipline issues that plagued him early in his career have eased significantly as he has advanced, though at times he'll revert to guessing and chasing breaking balls down and out of the strike zone. When he swings at strikes, he rarely misses, thanks to excellent hand-eye coordination. With slightly above-average speed and average instincts, Ozuna should reach double figures in stolen bases. He has plus range and a well above-average arm in right field. He plays with an infectious passion at all times.

The Future: After gaining a spot on Miami's 40-man roster, Ozuna will head to Double-A. If he can lay off bad breaking pitches and trust his swing, he can become an all-star.

Year 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
'12 Jupiter (HiA) 489 89 130 27 2 24 95 44 116 8 3 .266 .328 .476
Minor League Totals 1727 297 470 102 9 80 310 154 454 40 9 .272 .332 .481

6. Justin Nicolino, lhp Born: Nov 22, 1991 B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 160
Drafted: University HS, Orlando, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Carlos Rodriguez
Justin NicolinoBackground: Armed with extra picks in 2010, the Blue Jays rolled the dice on Nicolino, considered a tough sign away from a Virginia commitment. Since signing for an above-slot $615,000 in the second round, he has dominated pro hitters. He ranked as the No.1 prospect in the short-season Northwest League in 2011, then led the low Class A Midwest League in ERA (2.46) and WHIP (1.07) as an encore. He came to the Marlins in the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle trade.

Scouting Report: Nicolino's polish is more impressive than his stuff, but he's not a soft-tosser. He spots a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 to both sides of the plate, and he's not afraid to come inside on hitters. His best pitch is a plus changeup that he sells with deceptive arm speed. He gets under his changeup at times but has the aptitude to make corrections quickly. Nicolino needs to stay on top of his curveball too, but it's a solid third pitch with good shape. Though there's some crossfire to his delivery, that doesn't prevent him from throwing all three pitches for strikes.

The Future: Nicolino profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter with an ultimate ceiling of a No. 2. He'll advance to high Class A at age 21. His savvy could put him on the fast track after Toronto handled him cautiously early in his career.

Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'11 Vancouver (SS) 5 1 1.03 12 9 0 52 28 9 6 0 11 64 .151
'11 Lansing (LoA) 1 1 3.12 3 3 0 9 11 3 3 0 2 9 .297
'12 Lansing (LoA) 10 4 2.46 28 22 0 124 112 41 34 6 21 119 .231
Minor League Totals 16 6 2.09 43 34 0 185 151 151 43 6 34 192 .214

7. Adeiny Hechavarria, ss Born: Apr 15, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 5-11 Wt.: 180
Signed: Cuba '10 Signed by: Marco Paddy (Blue Jays)
Adeiny HechavarriaBackground: Hechavarria defected from the Cuban junior national team in July 2009. After signing nine months later for a $10 million big league contract that included a Blue Jays-record $4 million bonus, he didn't produce much at the plate until reaching hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas at the end of his second pro season. He continued to hit there in 2012, earning a big league callup in August. Three months later, he became a Marlin after the Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle deal.

Scouting Report: Hechavarria has all the tools to contend for Gold Gloves at shortstop. He has plus range, hands and arm strength, though he's prone to throwing errors because he tends to flip the ball to first base. He's also an above-average runner though not a prolific basestealer. Scouts still aren't sold on Hechavarria's offensive ability, however. He has a simple swing and some bat speed but is still learning how to put together professional at-bats. While he's strong and has some gap power, he doesn't project as a home run threat. His command of the strike zone regressed in his first taste of the majors.

The Future: His defense alone will allow Hechavarria to carve out a big league career. If his offense is simply adequate, he'll secure an everyday job. He'll enter 2013 as the favorite to replace Reyes as Miami's shortstop.

Year Team AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
'10 Dunedin (HiA) 161 21 31 7 3 1 7 5 25 7 0 .193 .217 .292
'10 New Hampshire (AA) 253 36 69 11 1 3 34 12 40 6 3 .273 .305 .360
'11 New Hampshire (AA) 464 58 109 22 6 6 46 25 78 19 13 .235 .275 .347
'11 Las Vegas (AAA) 108 16 42 6 2 2 11 8 21 1 2 .389 .431 .537
'12 Las Vegas (AAA) 443 78 138 20 6 6 63 38 86 8 2 .312 .363 .424
'12 Toronto (MAJ) 126 10 32 8 0 2 15 4 32 0 0 .254 .280 .365
Major League Totals 126 10 32 8 0 2 15 4 32 0 0 .254 .280 .365
Minor League Totals 1429 209 389 66 18 18 161 88 250 41 20 .272 .314 .381

8. Jose Urena, rhp Born: Sep 12, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 172
Signed: Dominican Republic '08 Signed by: Sandy Nin
Jose UrenaBackground: After signing for $52,000 in 2008, Urena spent two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League before finally reaching the United States in 2011. The Marlins took a cautious approach in his first year in full-season ball, piggybacking him and Austin Brice in the Greensboro rotation in the first half of 2012.

Scouting Report: Urena has a loose, live arm and a lean, projectable frame. He fills the strike zone with fastballs that sit at 94-96 mph and touch 98. His heater is explosive at times but flat at others. His slider gives him a second potential plus pitch, though it too lacks consistency. It has good tilt and life when it's on, but his arm often comes through late, causing it to flatten. He mixes in an occasional curveball to keep hitters off balance. He sells his straight changeup with fastball arm speed, and it can become an average offering if he can soften it up. Urena's control is better than his command at this stage. He's not yet able to consistently hit his targets within the strike zone, particularly inside on hitters. He works with enthusiasm and a smile.

The Future: If Urena's slider and command become more reliable, he could reach his ceiling of a No. 2 or 3 starter. He's still raw and will progress slowly for now, with high Class A his next stop.
 
Year Team W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
'09 Marlins (R) 3 3 6.75 14 2 2 27 36 22 20 0 11 15 .310
'10 Marlins (R) 5 6 2.61 13 13 0 83 76 32 24 2 7 66 .235
'11 Jamestown (SS) 4 7 4.33 15 15 0 73 74 38 35 4 29 48 .253
'12 Greensboro (LoA) 9 6 3.38 27 22 2 138 143 67 52 13 29 101 .256
Minor League Totals 21 22 3.67 69 52 4 321 329 329 131 19 76 230 .255

9. 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
J.T. RealmutoBackground: A shortstop in high school, Realmuto set national records with 88 hits and 119 RBIs while hitting .595 with 28 homers as a senior in 2010. The Marlins saw one of his rare appearances behind the plate and immediately converted him to catcher after signing him for $600,000 as a third-rounder that summer.

Scouting Report: Realmuto has the potential to become a solid hitter with average power. He uses the entire field and cut his strikeout rate from one per 4.5 at-bats in 2011 to one per 7.0 last season. The rigors of catching wore on him as the year progressed and he occasionally cheated on pitches, sometimes pulling off and opening up too soon. That should happen less frequently as he gets more accustomed to the grind. Managers rated Realmuto the Florida State League's best defensive catcher in in 2012. The former prep quarterback combines quality arm strength with quick footwork and a fast release, turning in sub-1.8-second pop times. He threw out 36 percent of FSL basestealers. His receiving and game-calling took big steps forward last season, though he still must improve at blocking balls and handling tough pitches. He's a tick above-average runner but figures to lose a step as he continues catching.

The Future: Realmuto will continue to advance one level per year, with Double-A his destination for 2013. He's on course to reach Miami at the end of 2014.

 
Year 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
'12 Jupiter (HiA) 446 63 114 16 0 8 46 37 64 13 5 .256 .319 .345
Minor League Totals 834 111 221 32 3 20 99 70 153 26 12 .265 .329 .382

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
Adam ConleyBackground: A closer early in his college career, Conley moved into the Washington State rotation as a junior in 2011 and earned a second-round selection and $625,000 bonus. He formed a stellar 1-2 punch with Jose Fernandez at Greensboro last spring, but Conley couldn't maintain his success after they moved to high Class A.

Scouting Report: Conley's fastball sits at 92-95 mph and touches 97, and it features so much life that he occasionally has trouble keeping it over the plate. He throws his average changeup with fastball arm speed, and it can dive out of the strike zone. His slider is below average, however, as it's often too big and wide. Conley has a little funk to his delivery that adds deception, though the Marlins are working to simplify it. He appeared tired when he got to Jupiter, and his command and control suffered. A perfectionist, he wore himself down further by throwing too much in between starts. By September, he was overstriding toward third base and throwing across his body. He bounced back well from rough starts and showed advanced pitchability for someone in his first full pro season.

The Future: How he holds up in 2013 could help determine whether Conley remains a starter, though he'd still need a better slider to fill a high-leverage relief role. He should see Double-A at some point during the season.

Year 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
'12 Greensboro (LoA) 7 3 2.78 14 14 0 74 58 30 23 4 24 84 .206
'12 Jupiter (HiA) 4 2 4.44 12 12 0 53 59 29 26 0 19 51 .272
Minor League Totals 11 5 3.42 28 26 0 129 118 118 49 4 43 137 .234