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TOP 10 PROSPECTS
|1. Braxton Garrett, lhp|
|2. Luis Castillo, rhp|
|3. Tyler Kolek, rhp|
|4. Brian Anderson, 3b|
|5. Dillon Peters, lhp|
|6. Jarlin Garcia, lhp|
|7. Edward Cabrera, rhp|
|8. Austin Dean, of|
|9. Stone Garrett, of|
|10. Thomas Jones, of|
The Marlins' season of promise and progress came to an abrupt end in the early morning of Sunday, Sept. 25.
The awful news that morning—that ace righthander Jose Fernandez and two friends were killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach—rocked all of baseball. It cast a pall over a season in which the Marlins remained in the wild-card chase until August and clouded the future of the franchise.
Fernandez was in the midst of a terrific season after Tommy John surgery cost him parts of 2014 and 2015. In 29 starts he went 16-8, 2.86 with 253 strikeouts and led the majors with 12.5 whiffs per nine innings. He was proud of a revamped changeup and struck out 12 Nationals hitters in what ended up being his final time on a mound on Sept. 20.
The Marlins were building around Fernandez and $325 million slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Where they go next is unknown.
“When you talk about a tragedy like this, there are no words," team president David Samson told reporters that day. “There is no playbook."
Before a late-season swoon—and the tragedy—the Marlins had compiled winning records in April, May, June and July and were 47-41 at the all-star break. As expected, the team's outfield led the way. Stanton, despite a groin strain, hit 27 homers, but he was the third-most productive member of the crew. Center fielder Marcell Ozuna (23 homers, .778 OPS) bounced back and left fielder Christian Yelich broke out with a career-best 21 homers and .298/.376/.483 season.
There were also encouraging signs from young players, such as lefthander Adam Conley, 26, now the club's best homegrown arm. Catcher J.T. Realmuto, 25, emerged as an offensive threat to go with his strong throwing arm and athleticism behind the plate. Rookie righthanders Kyle Barraclough, Nick Wittgren and Brian Ellington buoyed a powerful bullpen that ranked in the top half of the National League in strikeout rate.
The optimism did not trickle down to the farm system. The organization ranked 26th in baseball in domestic winning percentage at .454, with none of its domestic clubs qualifying for the playoffs. That, however, was an improvement over 2015, when Miami ranked last at .427, which was part of the reason the Marlins fired farm director Marty Scott and replaced him with former organization stalwart Marc DelPiano, who served in that role in 2003-04.
Big righthander Tyler Kolek, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, needed Tommy John surgery after an uneven full-season debut in 2015, but he's expected to be healthy for spring training. First baseman Josh Naylor, the No. 12 overall pick in 2015, was suspended after a knife incident in which he injured teammate Stone Garrett, then was traded to the Padres in a deal that netted righthander Andrew Cashner, pending free agent, and wild, 6-foot-8 reliever Tayron Guerrero.
Miami's wild-card chase also prompted the club to trade for Padres closer Fernando Rodney, which cost them their No. 5 prospect at midseason, righthander Chris Paddack. The deals thinned an already shallow farm system, but the 2016 draft provides some promise, led by prep lefthander Braxton Garrett, the seventh overall pick, who finally got on a mound during instructional league.
But the Marlins face large obstacles in trying to contend in 2017, most notably the loss of their ace—and franchise face.
1. Braxton Garrett, lhp |
Born: Aug. 5, 1997. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Florence, Ala., 2016 (1st round). Signed by: Mark Willoughby.
|Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.|
Background: For the second time in three years, the Marlins drafted a high school pitcher with their first-round pick. But unlike burly righthanded Texan Tyler Kolek—the No. 2 overall pick in 2014—the Alabama prep lefthander does not light up radar guns. His fastball sits in the low 90s compared with the high 90s where Kolek resides. Garrett has big-game experience, having helped USA Baseball's 18U team win the gold medal at the 2015 World Cup—which he called his favorite baseball experience—and then throwing a four-hit shutout at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational in March 2016. At No. 7 overall, Garrett was the highest-drafted Alabama prep player since shortstop Condredge Holloway of Lee High in Huntsville went fourth overall to the Expos in 1971 He was the highest-drafted Alabama prep pitcher since righty Rick James, drafted sixth overall in the first draft in 1965. Garrett, a Vanderbilt commit with a 3.8 grade-point average, was considered a tough sign and cost the Marlins $4,145,900, well above the $3,756,300 slot value.
Scouting Report: Garrett's pitch best is his 11-to-5 curveball, which has earned future plus grades for its tight spin and break. He also commands the pitch well by throwing it for strikes and as a chase pitch. He had just 15 walks in 65.1 innings with a 0.53 ERA and 131 strikeouts as a senior at Florence (Ala.) High, which earned him Gatorade player-of-the-year honors for the state of Alabama. Garrett's father Steve, who coached him in high school, taught him his curveball at age 13. Scouts said his curve was one of the best in the 2016 draft—just behind New Jersey prep lefthander Jason Groome, a Red Sox first-round pick—and rated him as having the best control of any pitcher in the class. Garrett’s fastball sits 91-93 mph with late life. At 6-foot-3, he has the frame to add good weight, which could enable him to add velocity. He has worked the most on improving the arm speed on his changeup, and it shows some fade. He has a balanced, easy delivery that he repeats extremely well, allowing him to fill the zone with quality strikes. Garrett has worked with Marlins coaches on developing a between-starts routine for the more demanding pro throwing schedule.
The Future: Garrett did not sign until the signing deadline on July 15. His late signing, combined with the Marlins' cautious approach, prevented the 19-year-old from taking a mound as a pro until instructional league, when he had three abbreviated outings. The Marlins say Garrett was not injured. Rather they were being cautious after his spring workload. He did travel with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team. Evaluators believe Garrett could have three above-average pitches to go with at above-average command. Given his pitchability and age (he was old for the draft class), the Marlins could skip Garrett to full-season ball in 2017.
|Did not pitch|