Florida Marlins: Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Florida Marlins: 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, 2009.

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Florida Marlins

At long last, after 16 years and countless failed attempts under three different ownership groups, the Marlins finally won approval for a publicly-funded, baseball-only stadium in South Florida. They broke ground in July.

Scheduled to open in 2012 in Miami's Little Havana section, the $541 million park will feature a retractable roof and seat 37,000. More importantly, the stadium will get the Marlins out from perhaps the most one-sided lease in pro sports.  It should also allow owner Jeffrey Loria to sink a little more money into his team's payroll, which annually ranks at or near the bottom of the major leagues.

That was the case again in 2009, as the Marlins spent just $37 million on player salaries, last in the majors. Yet they again managed to chase the National League wild card until the season's final week.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, just getting started on a contract that runs through 2014, enjoyed his best all-around season en route to the first batting title in franchise history. Josh Johnson, one of several homegrown Marlins to come through the system, went 15-5 and moved closer to a big-time payday once he reaches free agency after the 2011 season.

Finishing with 87 wins, the third-most in franchise history, Florida registered its second straight winning season under manager Fredi Gonzalez. Despite this achievement, Gonzalez still had to hear rumors that had the Marlins considering a switch to Bobby Valentine before the organization finally came back to its senses and stayed the course.

Florida's success came after another round of offseason trades shed the salaries of Mike Jacobs (to the Royals), and Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham (to the Nationals). Among other players, those deals netted Emilio Bonifacio, who played five positions and became the regular third baseman, and Leo Nunez, who moved into the closer role after Matt Lindstrom faltered at midseason.

The farm system once again paid dividends, even with top prospect Cameron Maybin flopping in an attempt to secure the center-field job. His strong work at Triple-A New Orleans and during his September callup gave the Marlins hope he'll stay for good in 2010. Sean West came up in May, made 20 solid starts and laid his claim to a permanent spot in the rotation.

But the best work, by far, came from Chris Coghlan, who not only jumped into the leadoff spot for the first time since high school but also made the move from second base to left field in seamless fashion. Coghlan batted .321, including .373 after the all-star break, to state his candidacy for NL Rookie of the Year.

In the minors, Marlins affiliates posted a combined 350-341 (.507) record. Just two of the six clubs posted winning records, but those two were Double-A Jacksonville, which won the Southern League championship, and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Marlins, who rolled to a .691 winning percentage. Top prospects such as right fielder Mike Stanton, first baseman Logan Morrison and third baseman Matt Dominguez continued their progress toward an eventual place in Miami.

After focusing on position players in the past several drafts, the Marlins went for pitching with three of their top four picks in 2009. Their top choice (18th overall) was Oklahoma high school lefthander Chad James, who signed for $1.7 million and immediately became their best pitching prospect.

1.  Mike Stanton, of   Born: Nov. 8, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 225
 Drafted: HS—Sherman Oaks, Calif., 2007Signed by: Tim McDonnell
Mike StantonBackground: Notre Dame High has churned out a long list of accomplished athletes, with former No. 1 overall pick Tim Foli and Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell its most distinguished baseball players. Stanton, a three-sport star, was considered the school's best athlete in at least a decade. Southern California offered him a baseball scholarship and Pete Carroll extended an opportunity to walk on as a receiver/defensive back in football. Nevada-Las Vegas wanted Stanton to play two sports as well, but the Marlins stole him for $475,000, thanks in large part to the work of area scout Tim McDonnell. Stanton struggled in summer showcases before his senior year, which caused him to drop to the 76th overall pick. Born Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton, he has Puerto Rican ancestry. Stanton's reputation took off after the Marlins refused to include him in a deal for Manny Ramirez in July 2008, even with the Red Sox willing to pay the entire $7 million remaining on the future Hall of Famer's contract. After blasting his way to a 39-homer season at low Class A Greensboro in his first full year in the pros, Stanton followed up by reaching Double-A Jacksonville and playing in the Futures Game midway through 2009.

Strengths: Stanton's power numbers predictably dropped off in the thick Florida air, but he again showed regular flashes of light-tower power. He has the ability to stay back on breaking balls and take them the other way with authority. He has a flat swing and keeps the barrel in the zone for a long time. His performance only brought more comparisons to a young Dave Winfield, while some see Jayson Werth or Jermaine Dye in his skill set as well. All five tools are present, as his speed, right-field range and arm all grade as solid-average or better. Stanton's work ethic is tremendous, basically that of a far less talented player. Intelligent, inquisitive and driven, he never lets the hype go to his head.

Weaknesses: His pitch recognition is improving, though Stanton still gets caught guessing too much. He must cut down on his strikeouts—297 during the past two seasons—but that's not a huge concern considering his power production. Though he has the speed to swipe 20 or more bases a year, Stanton has yet to develop basestealing instincts. A bout of shoulder tendinitis affected his throwing for a short time early in 2009, but he has worked hard to improve his arm. He left the Arizona Fall League with a sore back in mid-October, though it's not a major worry and he should be 100 percent for spring training.

The Future: The Marlins are determined not to rush Stanton, though some in the organization believe he could handle the jump to the majors sooner rather than later. An outfield featuring Cameron Maybin in center field and Stanton in right could become a reality by mid-2010, but Stanton should return to Double-A to start the season. Florida doesn't want him to experience the multiple big league failures that have dogged Maybin the past few seasons as he faced similar expectations.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jupiter (Hi A) .294 .390 .578 180 27 53 9 3 12 39 28 45 2
Jacksonville (AA) .231 .311 .455 299 49 69 15 2 16 53 31 99
2.  Logan Morrison, 1b   Born: Aug. 25, 1987B-T: L-LHt: 6-2Wt: 215
 Drafted: Maple Woods (Mo.) CC, D/F 2005 (22nd round)Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky
Logan MorrisonBackground:  Morrison turned down $95,000 out of high school so he could attend Maple Woods (Mo.) CC, Albert Pujols' alma mater. Morrison grew two inches and added 20 pounds of muscle, prompting the Marlins to sign him for $225,000 the following spring. After winning MVP honors in the high Class A Florida State League in 2008, he missed most of the first two months last season with a broken bone at the base of his right thumb.

Strengths: Morrison has the best plate discipline in the organization. He has a balanced, flat swing that enables him to keep his bat in the zone a  long time. He has plus power and can put on a batting-practice show that nearly rivals those of Jacksonville teammate Mike Stanton, but Morrison reins it in during games and looks gap to gap. He projects as a classic No. 3 hitter, and his makeup and leadership skills are outstanding. His hands and arm are assets at first base.

Weaknesses: Morrison hit just .233 with one homer in 86 at-bats against lefties in 2009. While he has worked hard on his defense, he has limited range and speed.

The Future: He continues to dabble  in left field as the Marlins try to find ways to get both him and  Gaby Sanchez into their lineup. Barring a huge spring, Morrison likely will head back to Double-A to start 2010, but he could get the call at any time.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jacksonville (AA) .277 .411 .442 278 48 77 18 2 8 47 63 46 9
Jupiter (Hi A) .273 .333 .364 11 0 3 1 0 0 2 1 2 0
3.  Chad James, lhp   Born: Jan. 23, 1991B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Yukon, Okla., 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky
Chad JamesBackground: Entering his senior season in high school, James got serious about his conditioning and the reward was his selection as the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The latest Oklahoma-area product to hit the radar of Oklahoma-based Marlins scouting officials Jim Fleming and Stan Meek, he signed at the deadline for $1.7 million. His older brother Justin was a Blue Jays fifth-round pick in 2003.

Strengths: In addition to firming up his frame, James improved his fastball from the high 80s to 90-92 mph, and he can touch 95. His highly developed changeup was one of the best in the nation's prep class. His curveball went from mediocre as a junior to close to a plus pitch at times. A strong athlete with solid makeup, he's willing to learn.

Weaknesses: Like many young pitchers, James still has some minor delivery issues he needs to iron out. His curveball can get sharper and he needs to throw his changeup more often.

The Future: James should make his pro debut at low Class A Greensboro, which won't be all that easy considering NewBridge Bank Park's well-earned reputation as a bandbox. The Marlins could be conservative and hold him back in extended spring training, but that seems unnecessary considering his physicality and advanced repertoire.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Did Not Play—Signed Late
4.  Matt Dominguez, 3b   Born: Aug. 28, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 180
 Drafted: HS—Chatsworth, Calif., 2007 (1st round)Signed by: Tim McDonnell
Matt DominguezBackground: Dominguez emerged from the same left side of the Chatsworth (Calif.) High infield that also produced No. 2 overall pick Mike Moustakas in 2007. A Cal State Fullerton signee chosen 12th overall, Dominguez signed for $1.8 million. After hitting .296 with 18 homers at Greensboro in 2008, he found the going tougher last season.

Strengths: Dominguez has  smooth hands and actions in the field, along with a strong arm and a quick release, so comparisons to former Marlin Mike Lowell persist. His numbers weren't as strong in 2009, but he did show  power in the dead air of the Florida State League. He has worked tirelessly with Florida hitting coordinator John Mallee on staying behind the ball and improving his strike-zone discipline, enabling him to do more damage when he connects. His makeup is an asset.

Weaknesses: Double-A pitchers exposed some of things Dominguez needs to work on. He can lunge at times and get jammed on the inner half. He needs to continue to add strength. His running is below-average, and some scouts question his range.

The Future: Dominguez likely will return to Double-A, where he'll continue to lay the foundation for what should be a long run at third in Florida. Even if his power numbers don't improve, the Marlins believe Dominguez at least will be another Jeff Cirillo.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jupiter (Hi A) .262 .333 .420 381 49 100 25 1 11 53 38 68 1
Jacksonville (AA) .186 .292 .320 97 10 18 7 0 2 9 14 24 0
5.  Gaby Sanchez, 1b   Born: Sept. 2, 1983B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 234
 Drafted: Miami, 2005 (4th round)Signed by: John Martin
Gaby SanchezBackground: Suspended his entire junior year at Miami, Sanchez was a fourth-round steal for the Marlins. He signed for $250,000, largely on the recommendation of East Coast scouting supervisor Mike Cadahia. He won the short-season New York-Penn League batting title (.355) in his pro debut and the Double-A Southern League MVP award in 2008. He was slowed last season by two separate minor injuries to his left knee, both from freak collisions.

Strengths: Sanchez's plate discipline is excellent, maybe a tick behind Logan Morrison's. He hits for average with a short swing and continues to show plenty of raw power, with the potential to hit as many as 25 homer annually. Defensively, he shows plus arm strength and good lateral quickness.

Weaknesses: Some scouts have questioned Sanchez's bat speed, noting he tends to dive for pitches and can struggle against top pitching. A strong work ethic keeps his conditioning in order, but his chunky body could be a problem down the road. He projects to be average at best defensively, and has settled back in at first base after trying catcher and third base.

The Future: After failing to win a big league starting job last spring in a wide-open competition, Sanchez will try again in 2010. Morrison is just one level behind him, so it would behoove Sanchez to establish himself at first before the superior bat arrives.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jupiter (Hi A) .262 .333 .420 381 49 100 25 1 11 53 38 68 1
Jacksonville (AA) .186 .292 .320 97 10 18 7 0 2 9 14 24 0
6.  Ryan Tucker, rhp   Born: Dec. 6, 1986B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 205
 Drafted: HS—Temple City, Calif., 2005 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: John Cole
Ryan TuckerBackground: The Marlins' fourth of five picks before the second round in 2005, Tucker signed for $975,000 as a sandwich pick. He reached the majors for three weeks midway through 2008, when he was Florida's minor league pitcher of the year. Surgery on his left knee limited him to six starts last season. Strengths: At his best, Tucker shows an overpowering fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and touches 97. He likes throwing his changeup and isn't afraid to keep it in his arsenal, even as a reliever. At times, he'll show a tight, late-breaking slider. He's a bulldog on the mound.

Strengths: The Marlins' fourth of five picks before the second round in 2005, Tucker signed for $975,000 as a sandwich pick. He reached the majors for three weeks midway through 2008, when he was Florida's minor league pitcher of the year. Surgery on his left knee limited him to six starts last season. Strengths: At his best, Tucker shows an overpowering fastball that sits at 92-95 mph and touches 97. He likes throwing his changeup and isn't afraid to keep it in his arsenal, even as a reliever. At times, he'll show a tight, late-breaking slider. He's a bulldog on the mound.

Weaknesses: When things go wrong, Tucker tries to hump up with his fastball, a habit that big league hitters exploited during his brief trial in 2008. While he has learned to control his emotions since getting suspended in 2007 for a pair of confrontations with high Class A Jupiter pitching coach Reid Cornelius, he still needs to work on keeping his poise. His slider needs refinement, after he scrapped previous attempts at mastering a curveball and cutter.

The Future: Tucker still profiles best as a short reliever but the Marlins have mostly kept him in their minor league rotations in order to help him hone his craft. With a big spring he could make the jump to the major league bullpen, but he will more likely head back to New Orleans as a starter for a second crack at the Pacific Coast League.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
New Orleans (AAA) 1 2 8.04 4 4 0 0 16 18 1 14 7 .295
GCL Marlins (R) 1 0 2.25 2 2 0 0 8 5 0 2 7 .179
7.  Kyle Skipworth, c   Born: March 1, 1990B-T: L-RHt: 6-4Wt: 207
 Drafted: HS—Rubidoux, Calif, 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Robby Corsaro
Kyle SkipworthBackground: Skipworth didn't become a full-time catcher until his junior season, but by the end of his prep career he was drawing comparisons to Joe Mauer, the only other prep catcher taken in the top 10 of the past 14 drafts. Skipworth set a California record with hits in 18 consecutive plate appearances, but has batted just .208/.263/.345 since signing for $2.3 million as the sixth overall pick.

Strengths: Despite his hitting woes, Skipworth has solid swing mechanics and the Marlins still believe in his offensive potential. He has been an advanced receiver from the moment he turned pro. He has outstanding hands and footwork, as well as toughness and intelligence. He has a strong, accurate arm, though he threw out just 20 percent of basestealers last season while playing through a hyperextension of his elbow. He earned points for his refusal to make excuses before getting shut down in early August.

Weaknesses: Skipworth has struggled with pitch recognition and will resort to guessing at times. Strikeouts have been a problem, and he needs to add  strength. He hasn't shown  power in games, though he has displayed loft power to his pull side in batting practice.

The Future: Not since Charles Johnson in the mid-1990s have the Marlins had a catching prospect with such a high ceiling. Skipworth figures to repeat low Class A in hopes the Greensboro effect will get him going with the bat.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greensboro (Lo A) .208 .263 .348 264 28 55 14 1 7 37 18 91 1
8.  Isaac Galloway, of   Born: Oct. 10, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-2Wt: 190
 Drafted: HS—Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 2008 (8th round)Signed by: Robby Corsaro
Isaac GallowayBackground: Galloway looked like a first-round pick as a high school sophomore, but he pressed as a senior, leading to a disastrous season. The Marlins took him in the eighth round and signed him quickly for $245,000, and he has been motivated to prove his doubters wrong ever since.

Strengths: With the help of hitting coordinator John Mallee, Galloway has learned to stay inside the ball and make better use of his hips. A potential five-tool player, he has drawn comparisons to a young Torii Hunter with his lanky frame and long stride. He was clocked in the 6.5-second range in the 60-yard dash at prep showcases, but he's still learning to harness that raw speed. He has tremendous makeup and solid instincts.

Weaknesses: Strike-zone discipline remains Galloway's biggest bugaboo, as he gets himself out too often. He struggled with routes and jumps in center field but improved as the year went on. His arm is average but could improve with work. He remains fairly raw, but his willingness to work should help him smooth out the rough edges.

The Future: With Cameron Maybin still trying to nail down the big league center field job, the Marlins are tracking Galloway's progress closely. He should head to Class A Jupiter to start 2010 and continue to move one level at a time.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greensboro (Lo A) .268 .293 .382 340 44 91 24 3 3 30 12 89 15
9.  Scott Cousins, of   Born: Jan. 22, 1985B-T: L-LHt: 6-1Wt: 194
 Drafted: San Francisco, 2006 (3rd round)Signed by: John Hughes
Scott CousinsBackground: It has taken Cousins three pro seasons to break into the Marlins Top 10, but that's mostly because he was stuck in a highly talented system. A two-way star at the University of San Francisco, he signed for $407,500 and steadily has increased his profile. Managers voted him the most exciting player in the Florida State League in 2008, and he fit neatly into the No. 5 batting slot behind Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton as Double-A Jacksonville won the Southern League title in 2009.

Strengths: The best defensive outfielder in the system, Cousins is a tooled-up option at all three outfield spots. He has the ability to stay in center if necessary, and his plus arm profiles well for right. He shows the potential to hit for average and power, and he took a big step forward with his basestealing instincts last year.

Weaknesses: Cousins still struggles at times against lefties. His refusal to stay patient at the plate causes him to fall into some prolonged funks, and he needs to improve his consistency.

The Future: With Jeremy Hermida traded, Cousins could get a shot at winning the left-field job next spring. Some believe he has perhaps the highest ceiling of any Marlins position prospect besides Stanton.
2009 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Jacksonville (AA) .263 .323 .448 482 60 127 31 11 12 74 42 107 27
10.  Jhan Marinez, rhp   Born: Aug. 12, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-1Wt: 165
 Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006Signed by: Sandy Nin
Jhan MarinezBackground: Signed out of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic at age 17, Marinez developed slowly until experiencing a breakthrough season in 2009. He first came to the United States at the beginning of the 2007 season but was sent back to the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League after three poor outings, punctuated by bouts of immaturity.

Strengths: Marinez' slight frame and explosive fastball draw the inevitable comparisons to a young Pedro Martinez. He pitches with his fastball at 92-94 and has topped out at 98. He also has a two-seamer that he can work in to righthanders at 89-92 mph. He complements his fastball with a hard slider that clocks in at 85 mph. His makeup and work ethic were much better last season, though they remain works in progress.

Weaknesses: Marinez' slider requires more consistency and his changeup needs significant work. His frame and overall conditioning must improve if he is to improve his durability and move into a starting role, and just eight of his 69 career appearances have been starts. He remains raw in the secondary aspects of the game, such as holding runners and fielding his position. Some still wonder if his improved maturity is just a mirage.

The Future: There's no need to rush Marinez, who figures to open 2010 back in high Class A. If everything clicks, he could earn an early promotion to Double-A.
2009 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Jupiter (Hi A) 1 1 3.14 29 0 0 1 43 28 4 20 42 .185

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