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.

James Bailey: It's just about 2:30 on the prospect clock, so let's kick this off. Thanks to everyone for joining us this afternoon.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Thanks for the chat, James. How far down your rankings would Edgar Olmos slide, and whats the word on him?

James Bailey: Olmos is still in the top 30, down a few spots from last year, but the Marlins like him and were pleased he was finally able to make some progress last year after missing almost all of his first two seasons with shoulder issues. The former third-rounder (2008) is long and lean projectable lefty. He needs to become more consistent with his arm slot and find a comfortable tempo at which to work. He also fell in love with his changeup a little early last year, which affected his other pitches by slowing his delivery down. He corrected that by the second half. He´┐Żll advance to high Class A Jupiter this year. Down the road he looks like a potential No. 4 or 5 starter.

    Shawn (Tampa Bay): Good gracious, what in the world has happened to this team's prospect depth???? ...I don't see how a Chad James would even make a good teams list like Atlanta, KC or Tampa Bay's.

James Bailey: True, the team's depth isn't comparable to some of the other top systems in the game, but don't overlook the fact that they just graduated three of their top five prospects from last year's list to starting jobs in the majors with 1. Mike Stanton, 2. Logan Morrison, and 5. Gaby Sanchez. Alex Sanabia also cruised through the system last year, starting in Double-A and finishing with solid numbers in 12 big league starts. The year before they promoted NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. So the depth isn't there now, but half their lineup is filled with productive players that they developed very recently. That being said, the system would look a lot better if they had hit on more of their early picks in recent years. They had five first-rounders (including two supplemental choices) in 2005 and all they really have to show for that is Chris Volstad. Sean West could yet make it, though he lost time to injury last year and was still troubled enough that he was sent home from the AFL early. Brett Sinkbeil, their top pick in 2006, doesn't seem likely to pan out at this point. It's not a coincidence that only one of the top five bonuses in club history has come in the last 10 years. They don't invest as much in the draft as most other teams and their success rate on their first-rounders hasn't been as good as they'd probably like since Adrian Gonzalez.

    Alan (NC): When do you think will Skipworth debut with the Marlins? Thanks!

James Bailey: He's a couple years away. He should move up to high A Jupiter this season. If all goes well I could see him as a September callup in 2012 after spending most of that season at Double-A. Joe Mauer aside, most high school catchers don't move real quick.

    Harry (Tampa): Should we write off Brett Sinkbeil as a future Major Leaguer?

James Bailey: Write off is a little strong, but his stock is certainly low right now. The Marlins removed him from the 40-man roster this fall, so he'll have a tougher time getting back to the majors than he had getting there this past season when he got the call despite a lofty 5.71 ERA in Triple-A. He's still got the stuff, but he seems to lack the confidence to pitch successfully. If he can get the mental side of things together he could yet be successful, but it's hard to be optimistic today.

    Tom (San Diego): How can you not even mention 21 year old Alex Sanabia. He dominated AA and was very effective as a 21 yr old in MLB. What do you see his future being as a Marlin

James Bailey: Sanabia pitched 72.1 innings in Florida in 2010. The rookie limit is 50, thus he wasn't eligible for the list. I sure like what he did last year. He's got a good shot, even with the addition of Vazquez, to take a regular turn in their rotation this year.

    Ike (OH): Is Mark Canha someone to keep an eye on?

James Bailey: Canha offers some power, but is probably limited to left field or first base. His bat is going to have to carry him up the ladder.

    JAYPERS (IL): Do you feel the Marlins gave up on Maybin and Miller too quickly? Why or why not?

James Bailey: Not really. Maybin could come back to haunt them a little, but he hasn't taken advantage of his opportunities in the big leagues to this point. His strikeout-walk ratio actually got worse last year than it was the year before. He plays nice defense and has some impressive tools, but you need more out of your table-setter than a .302 on-base. He's raked in Triple-A the past couple of years can't translate that success to the big leagues. Miller was moving in reverse. When the Marlins farmed him out last year it was to Double-A and high A, not Triple-A. And he was pretty bad in Double-A. He was out of options and the odds are they wouldn't have been able to keep him this spring, so dealing him for a potentially usable lefty reliever in Dustin Richardson was a sensible move to me.

    Steve (Florida): What's the Ceiling on Scott Cousins? In last years review or chat it was said he might have the second highest ceiling to Stanton of a position player...still true?

James Bailey: He's not going to blow people away with any particular tool like Stanton does with power, but Cousins does everything well. He's a fundamentally strong outfielder with a good arm. He can hit for average, should have 15-20 home run power and can run. Sometimes he's his own worst enemy. He needs to take a little of Crash Davis's advice. "Don't think, you'll only hurt the team." If he just lets his natural ability play he'll be fine. The Maybin trade opens up center field to him this spring.

    Brett (ATL, GA): Did Tom Koehler get any love for this list? Also, where can I expect to see him play next year?

James Bailey: Koehler got some love, certainly. He's in that next group of guys just after the top 10. The guy finds a way to win. 16-2 may be a little lucky, but he's won 30 games in three years, so it wasn't really a fluke. He and Elih Villanueva were both terrific for Double-A Jacksonville last year. Koehler gets the edge stuffwise. I'd expect them both to move up to Triple-A this year. The addition of Javy Vazquez means the big league rotation is probably set this spring (Johnson, Nolasco, Vazquez, Sanchez, and Volstad or Sanabia), so they'll both likely spend quite a bit of time at New Orleans.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Who are some of the Marlin prospects you expect to stock the Greensboro Grasshopper low A team?

James Bailey: There should be some fun players to watch this year. I could see Yelich starting there, which is where he finished 2010. Marcell Ozuna, who led the NY-P League in home runs ought to be back in Greensboro. He opened the year there last year before breaking his wrist. You can also look for 3B/OF Ryan Fisher, 2B Danny Black, OF Brent Keys, and SS/2B Noah Perio. On the mound I think you could see Rett Varner, Alan Oaks, Josh Hodges, Kevin Cravey, and Jared Rogers, among others.

    Luke (Pittsburgh): What can you tell us about Ryan Fisher? Is he on your top 30 list?

James Bailey: Speaking of Ryan Fisher ... I'm a Fisher fan, but he didn't make the top 30 this year. He's someone to keep an eye on for next year. He was a 15th-round pick last June and could wind up being a bit of a sleeper. He played outfield, second and third base in college and the Marlins worked him at both third and in left at short-season Jamestown last summer. I saw him at third and while he's got room for improvement, he showed the tools to make some nice plays. Still, his future may lie in left field. The Marlins think he'll hit for some power from the left side.

    Brian (Philadelphia): Where does Caminero rank on the prospect list?

James Bailey: Arquimedes Caminero slots in around 20th. He really took off last year. He throws regularly 95-98 mph, but was clocked as high as 101 at times last year for Greensboro. He needs to tighten up his slider to give him a reliable second pitch to complement the heat. He made some progress on that in minicamp this fall.

    Rob (Jupiter, FL): What can you tell me about RHP Joey O'Gara? I saw a few of his starts last summer and scouts raved about his velocity and sink on his fastball. At 6'7, is he next in the line of big Marlin arms?

James Bailey: O'Gara is officially on the radar now, having just snuck into the bottom of the top 30. His 2010 numbers don't pop out at you, but the front office is pleased with his progress, especially given his draft position (31st round in 2009). The key to his success is his sinker, which results in a lot of groundouts. He's working to add a four-seamer, and his slider has potential to become an average pitch. He's definitely an intriguing guy going into 2011. If he keeps progressing like he did last year he'll move up significantly.

    Kevin (Munster, IN): Matt Dominguez #1;Really? Do you really see him much more of a Joe Randa?

James Bailey: Dominguez is a more gifted defender than Randa, and probably not going to hit for the same kind of average, though I see him hitting for more power. I like Christian Yelich's future with the bat a little better, but he's got more ground to cover to get there, where Dominguez could start the season in Florida. I don't think he's ready to be successful there and he'd probably benefit from at least a couple months in Triple-A, but with a strong spring it's possible he makes the jump. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez compared him to Brooks Robinson earlier this offseason, which is laying it on awful thick. But he's a very advanced defender and by late in the season last year he had closed up some of the holes in his swing. If Coghlan hadn't gotten hurt last year, Logan Morrison wouldn't likely have used up his rookie eligibility, meaning he most likely would have been No. 1. Instead he got some valuable experience and Dominguez slid into that spot. As a Marlin fan, wouldn't you rather have that?

    Deke (FL): Jose Ceda - prospect or suspect?

James Bailey: Ceda's still a prospect. His fastball generally runs 95-96 mph, with an occasional 97. He also works in a solid-average slider, which is still a little inconsistent. His control, especially with the slider, will determine whether he lives up to the expectations or bounces back and forth between Triple-A and the majors. The Marlins have put a lot of effort into beefing up their pen this winter, so he's going to have to fight for a job this spring.

    Jon (Peoria): Do you think there's any chance that Jeff Allison gets even a cup of coffee in the big leagues at some point?

James Bailey: Cup of coffee? I could see it. But I don't have much hope for a full season. He was 25 last year and went 6-11 with a 5.04 ERA at Double-A, with some uninspiring secondary numbers (110.2 IP, 132 H, 33 BB, 56 K). Elih Villanueva and Tom Koehler both had very impressive seasons there, so it's not like he was pitching in a tough environment. I see Allison bouncing to an independent league somewhere before he reaches the bigs. Still, hard to rule out a cup of coffee.

    Jasen (FLL): Has Chad James stock fallen some compared to last year based on his 2010 performance? His K:BB ration was awful

James Bailey: Not at all. He was a high school draftee making his pro debut in the South Atlantic League. Sure, some kids his age thrive there, but he was young for that level of competition and really held his own. His high walk total was more a result of trying to be too perfect than of someone with poor control. He might have given hitters too much credit instead of going after them. His nibbling often put him behind in the count, allowing hitters to sit on his fastball. Despite all that he struck out 105 batters in 114 innings and allowed just over a hit per inning. I'll be surprised if his numbers don't improve significantly this year.

    Jim (Philly): Did Marquise Cooper make a case for your top 10?

James Bailey: No. He's got exciting speed, but he needs to make a lot of adjustments to move from athlete to baseball player. He spent a lot of his high school time playing football, but even still you'd like to see more than a .215 average out of him in 288 GCL at-bats, which is what he's produced his first two years. Not to write him off by any stretch, but at this point in time he's not at top 30 guy, let alone top 10.

    Grant (Dallas, TX): James, could you share your impressions of J.T. Realmuto with us, and why he missed this list?

James Bailey: Realmuto is a guy the Marlins really like. He was a shortstop in high school, but the Marlins drafted him with the idea of moving him to catcher and they were pleased with what they saw once they got him in the system last summer. One reason they think he'll work out behind the plate is his leadership ability. He was a tremendously successful high school quarterback in Oklahoma. Of course, his hitting exploits in baseball were nearly as impressive (.595, 28 homers, 119 RBIs in 42 games last spring). He didn't make the top 10 this year, but the tools are definitely there for him to jump in next year.

    Jasen (FLL): It appears the Marlins system is fairly thin. Is Yelich worthy of #3 ranking or is it a product of the system's depth and talent?

James Bailey: I think Yelich is going to hit. In a deeper system he wouldn't be #3 so quickly. But he more than held his own in a trial at Greensboro last year. The Marlins are very high on his bat. The "Will Clark" comparison was thrown around a couple of times. He's got a pretty swing and a good idea already for the strike zone.

    Earl (Jacksonville): Do you see Brad Hand as a Sept call up this year? He seems like he can really had value to the team, especially due to the lack of a quality left handed starter on their roster since Dtrain.

James Bailey: I wouldn't rule it out. Hand made a lot of progress last year and finished with a flourish in the Southern League playoffs. Florida's entire projected rotation is righthanded, but there aren't any lefties in a serious position to change that this year. Sean West, if he's healthy, could challenge for some starts. Hand is the next most advanced southpaw starter. Chad James is likely a year behind him.

    Mike (Miami Gardens): It's obvious the Fish need some quality LH relievers. Outside of Jennings, who else is on the horizon? Wade Korpi and Andy Loomis are two pitchers whose numbers seem to warrant consideration.

James Bailey: Mike Dunn, the pitcher they picked up in the Uggla trade from Atlanta, just missed the top 10. He's got a good chance to contribute in Florida this year. As with so many hard-throwing relievers, he needs to improve his command. He walked 17 batters in 19 innings for the Braves last year, yet somehow escaped with a 1.89 ERA. That won't happen too often. Further down in the system they have Ramon Benjamin, who works 92-94 mph with his fastball and touches 95. He took a big jump forward last year at low Class A Greensboro. It's also possible last year's second-rounder Rob Rasmussen could reach the big leagues as a reliever. His future role is TBD. It makes sense to start him this year to get him more innings, but if the Marlins sense he can help by the end of the summer out of the pen they might use him that way because he can move faster as a reliever.

    Doug (McLean, VA): Is Jake Smolinski still considered a prospect or is he merely an organizational player at this point?

James Bailey: He's still a prospect, but he's not quite where you'd project a second-round pick (2007 for the Nationals) to be at this point in his career. He's got the tools to hit better than he did last year, and he's going to have to because he's not exactly an artist in the field. The Marlins are still searching for a place to put him. Third base hasn't been pretty. He's played second and the outfield as well and could settle at one of them. I don't see him becoming a big league regular at this point, but he'll be only 22 and likely at Double-A this year, so he's got time yet to put it together.

    Pete (Las Vegas): Josh Hodges going to do anything this year?

James Bailey: If by do anything you mean wow us with great numbers, probably not. If you mean make some progress, then, yeah. He's got great raw stuff, but he lacks the maturity pitching-wise of most guys his age because he didn't have access to the same coaching as a lot of high school draftees and didn't face the top competition that many of his peers faced. He narrowly missed out on the top 30, but has the stuff to jump in there next year.

    Richard (LA): Marlins 2011 W-L record prediction???

James Bailey: 81-81. Their pitching should be better, with a completely revamped pen and the addition of Vazquez, but the division is a challenge. The Phillies are strong favorites and the Braves have to be penciled in for No. 2, though it will be interesting to see how their first post-Bobby Cox season unfolds.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Greensboro had a quartet of sluggers: Kyle Jensen (18 hr), Justin Bass (19 homers), Chad Cregar (17 hr), and Skipworth with 17. We know you like Skipworth as he is in the top 10. What do you think about the other three guys? How much of this slugging is a function of the Greensboro ballpark?

James Bailey: Let's say the ballpark probably didn't hurt. Both Jensen and Cregar hit 14 of their home runs at home. Bass was a little more evenly split (12-7). They've got some strength, but the next step in the chain is the pitcher-friendly Florida State League and I'll be surprised to see these guys replicate those kinds of numbers there.

    Bryan (Sann Francisco): Did Kyle Jensen make the top 20 or 30? Looks like he put up pretty good numbers despite a horrific start. Marlins seem to be crowded with young outfielders, but any chance he can establish himself? Thanks!

James Bailey: Kyle Jensen is feeling the love from this crowd. But sorry, he didn't make the list. He's a one-tool guy at this point, and here are his home-road splits from last year: Home: .314/.387/.555, .942 OPS, 14 HR, 229 AB; Away: .232/.299/.344, .643 OPS, 4 HR, 241 AB. That was just his second year in the organization, so there's certainly a chance he can establish himself. But he needs to prove he can hit outside of Greensboro in order to keep climbing through the system.

    John (Ft. Lauderdale): Now that most of their top prospects have graduated to the big leagues, and with the new stadium opening in 2012, is it time for the Marlins to open up their wallets and spend some overslot money in the upcoming draft?

James Bailey: If they were going to do it with the 2012 stadium opening in mind, the time to crack open the wallet was a few years ago. The Marlins don't seem to like going over slot. They haven't invested much internationally and are among the lowest-spending clubs on overall draft bonuses over the past several years. I don't really foresee that changing. To their credit, they do seem to find some later-round gems like Logan Morrison (22nd rd 2005, D/F) and Alex Sanabia (32nd round 2006). But you build a champion with a core of stars and it's a lot easier to put that together by going over slot.

    Ryan (Nashville, TN): What can you tell me about RHP Alan Oaks and his future on the mound? He broke our hearts as a hitter when he smacked that walk off HR off David Price in the regional a few years ago! Now as a pitcher, does he have the stuff to square off against Price in interleague play down the line?

James Bailey: The Marlins picked Oaks in the 8th round last June and he was on a fairly tight pitch count at short-season Jamestown. He converted from the outfield to the mound his last year at Michigan and isn't quite as advanced as some of the other college arms the Marlins took last year (Rob Rasmussen, Robert Morey, Rett Varner). He touched 94 in college, but was more 88-90 after signing, probably because he had thrown more in the spring than ever before. He's got a chance, but it's early to match him up against Price.

    AC (ATL): Did recently acquired Mike Dunn make the top 30 cut?

James Bailey: Yes. Just missed the top 10, in fact.

    AC (ATL): Is Bryan Berglund ever going to pitch?

James Bailey: The Marlins haven't gotten much return on their 2009 second-round pick thus far. Laburm surgery on his shoulder kept him out all year, though he was throwing again by minicamp this fall. He's a tall, projectable guy who they haven't really gotten to see much of yet. Shoulders are a bit trickier sometimes than elbows these days, so it's hard to know what to expect at this point. It looks like he'll be pitching in 2011, at least as of now. I'd expect him to start in extended spring training and go to one of their short-season teams when he's ready.

    Chuck (Ohio): If Galloway hadn't been injured did he have a shot at this list? How would you compare him to Aaron Hicks? Both potential 5 tool guys who have yet to produce.

James Bailey: If Galloway hadn't gotten hurt I think we'd have a better feel for exactly where he fits. He's in that 15-20 range now after an almost lost year. Before injuring his kidney in a serious outfield collision he was hitting just .200 with no power and a 21/5 K/BB ratio. He needs at-bats and this is two years in a row he's lost time to injuries. He might never be a power guy, but the rest of his tools are exciting. If he could stay healthy and stop chasing pitches out of the strike zone he could really take off. I think you're kind of shorting Aaron Hicks. He hit .279 at low Class A Beloit last year with 88 walks and 112 strikeouts. He put up a .401 on-base percentage. Galloway's was .259. I'll take Hicks.

    JD (AZ): James thanks for the chat. Can you name some of the sleepers that will emerge over the next couple of years?

James Bailey: One guy to keep an eye on is Kevin Cravey. Talk about sleeper, he signed last June out of a tryout camp after not pitching his last two years at Texas A&M. He tore through the GCL and made a few late appearances at Jamestown, where I had the opportunity to see him. What a curveball. It will be interesting to see what he does against higher level competition. He was toying with guys in short-season ball. Noah Perio is another guy to watch. He needs to put on some muscle (someone send him some steaks), but he's got some potential as a middle infielder. The Marlins had a righthander in the GCL last year named Jheysen Manzueta, who throws up to 94 with good life and has a potential plus changeup. There's a few names for you.

    john (uconn): Dan mahoney still a legit prospect after tommy john surgery? How's his stuff since the surgery?

James Bailey: Mahoney's got a chance. He touched 95 before the surgery and was back up to 91-92 this fall. When he's right he's got a nice 12-to-6 curve. The Marlins aren't sure yet whether he fits best as a starter or reliever, but if I had to guess I'd say he'll go in the bullpen eventually.

    Kenny (From Highland Falls, NY): Is Sean West still considered a prospect? Does he crack the rotation to open they year?

James Bailey: Our prospect cutoffs to make lists like these are 50 IP or 130 AB, the major league rookie limits. So by that standpoint, West is not considered for the top 10. If you define prospect as a young player who has a nice future in the majors, he's got a chance to fit in there. I don't see him in the Marlins rotation to start the year. There are too many guys ahead of him. He might benefit from a couple of months at Triple-A to find a rhythm, then he could possibly help either as a starter or a lefty out of the pen.

    UNCW Dude (Wilmington, NC): Do you see Chris Hatcher as a major league backup catcher or do you see a move to the mound?

James Bailey: More likely a move to the mound. That seed has been planted. He just doesn't hit enough to see any kind of regular time in the bigs, his homer in the Southern League championship aside.

    johnb (greenville ,sc): Dunn or Marinez... which has the best chance to someday be the 8th inning setup man/closer for Florida ?

James Bailey: I like Marinez better. Potential closer. In the meantime could be a useful 8th inning guy as soon as 2012. Maybe even late this year.

James Bailey: Guys, I really appreciate all the great questions. Thanks for stopping in today. We've got a lot more great top 10s to come.