Familiarity Helps Marlins Land Two High-Upside Prospects From Yankees

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The biggest name of the Giancarlo Stanton trade is, well, Giancarlo Stanton. He’s the reigning National League MVP, he’s set to make $295 million over the next decade and he hits baseballs harder than just about anybody on the planet.

But what about the players going back to the Marlins in this deal? Everybody knows about Starlin Castro, the Cubs phenom turned Yankees second baseman, but he’s not the only piece who will head to Miami. There are questions about whether he’ll ever play a game in Miami, but he’ll provide decent offensive punch up the middle wherever he plays.

The Marlins also pried away two lottery ticket-type of prospects from New York in exchange for Stanton: Righthander Jorge Guzman--who ranked No. 7 on the Yankees’ Top 10 prospect list when it was released earlier this month--and shortstop Jose Devers, the cousin of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers who checked in at No. 19 on this year’s ranking of the Top 20 prospects in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Neither of these prospects is a household name, but neither is a throwaway. And because a number of player development staff members with the Marlins used to work in the Yankees front office--most notably farm director Gary Denbo and analyst Dan Greenlee--they know exactly which under-the-radar prospects might be most worth asking for in trade.

“The arm we gave up in Guzman is high-octane,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said after Stanton was introduced at a press conference on Monday at the Winter Meetings. “The arm he has is unusual. … We got him as the second piece in the Houston Astros deal (with Albert Abreu, for catcher Brian McCann), but ever since we got him and he was performing the way he was all through last year and getting better and better and better and adding the performance to match the talent, his name was being asked about at the deadline last year and (earlier) this winter, so he’s a very highly sought-after player.”

And for good reason.

Guzman’s fastball averaged 99 mph last year as a starting pitcher at short-season Staten Island, where he struck out a league-best 88 in 66.2 innings. To put that in perspective, that would be harder than any starting pitcher in the major leagues in 2017, besting Yankees righthander Luis Severino.

Add a power slider and a developing changeup and it’s easy to see a future as at least a middle-of-the-rotation arm if everything goes right. He’s a lottery ticket for sure, but one that’s capable of producing a Powerball-type of jackpot.

The second prospect in the deal, Devers, is a little bit farther off than Guzman, but there’s talent there as well. He hit .246/.359/.348 with a home run and nine RBIs this year in the GCL, all while playing a solid shortstop as well. He’s nowhere near the prospect his cousin was when he was coming up the Red Sox, but he’s still an intriguing second piece to the deal.

“Devers is obviously a young talent that someone like a Dan Greenlee and a Gary Denbo would know a lot about,” Cashman said, “moreso than anybody else around the game. He has tremendous upside. He’s far away but he’s got tremendous upside. … We gave up talent that we didn’t want to give up, and you have to give up someone to get someone in Giancarlo Stanton’s situation.”

Guzman and Devers, when combined with the three prospects from the Dee Gordon deal--righthanders Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger and infielder Christopher Torres--are the first steps toward reinvigorating a barren farm system.

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