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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|
2. Luis Castillo, rhp
Born: Dec. 12, 1992. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2011. Signed by: Felix Peguero (Giants).
Background: The Giants kept Castillo in the Dominican Summer League for two years before jumping him to low Class A Augusta in 2014. The Marlins, who also have an affiliate in the South Atlantic League, acquired him (and righty Kendry Flores) in a December 2014 trade for veteran Casey McGehee. The Marlins traded Castillo in the Andrew Cashner-headlined deal with the Padres in July 2016, only to have Castillo returned because Colin Rea reported to Miami with a bad elbow and later had Tommy John surgery.
Scouting Report: Castillo first joined the rotation in July 2015 but maintains elite fastball velocity thanks to outstanding arm strength. He hit 101 mph in 2016 and sat consistently at 96-97. He has easy velocity, with a smooth delivery that helps his fastball jump on hitters, though it can be straight at times. Castillo throws from a three-quarters arm angle, which helps give his slider depth and some curveball-like action. It projects as an above-average pitch. Castillo has feel for a power changeup, but he’s still finding the right grip. It has potential to be an average pitch as well. He has shown great makeup and the ability to overcome in-game adversity.
The Future: With an overpowering fastball and the potential for two at-least-average secondary pitches, Castillo has moved from bullpen arm to potential mid-rotation starter. He should begin 2017 at Double-A Jacksonville.
3. Tyler Kolek, rhp |
Born: Dec. 15, 1995. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 260. Drafted: HS—Shepherd, Texas, 2014 (1st round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Background: The No. 2 overall pick in 2014, Kolek signed for a franchise-record $6 million but hasn’t shown the Marlins the 100 mph velocity he had in high school. After struggling through a 2015 season in which his stuff backed up at low Class A Greensboro, Kolek missed the 2016 season following Tommy John surgery in April.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Kolek counts size and physicality among his biggest strengths. He has a bulky torso and lower half with great arm strength and surprising quickness when he’s healthy. He powers the ball to the plate with a long stride and can drive his fastball down in the zone with heavy sink. Despite his 2015 struggles, Kolek has allowed just seven homers in 130.2 pro innings, evidence his pitches are difficult to hit squarely. However, his slider and changeup played as well below-average, making it easy for batters to wait on his fastball, and his command also was below-average. Prior to his injury, Kolek struggled to have a consistent direct path to the plate and tended to get side-to-side with a crossfire delivery. Despite his draft pedigree, he competes and has the makeup of a grinder.
The Future: The Marlins plan to rebuild Kolek’s delivery and attempt to sharpen his offspeed pitches in spring training. His performance there will determine where and when he opens 2017, but he’s unlikely to be ready by Opening Day.
|Did not pitch|
4. Brian Anderson, 3b
Born: May 19, 1993. B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Arkansas, 2014 (3rd round). Signed by: Brian Kraft.
Background: Anderson’s prep roots in Oklahoma helped get him on the Marlins’ radar. Scouting director Stan Meek is a former OU pitcher and assistant coach and longtime Norman resident. Miami made him a 2014 third-round pick out of Arkansas because they admired his versatility and strong, righthanded bat. Anderson began 2016 at high Class A Jupiter but hit his way to Double-A Jacksonville, then led the Arizona Fall League with five home runs.
Scouting Report: Anderson identifies pitches early and is selective, and his feel for hitting helps his above-average raw power play more and more as he gains experience. Scouts believe he could hit 15-20 homers or more at his peak. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Anderson has projection left in his wiry, athletic frame. At third base, he has above-average defensive tools with good footwork and range and a plus throwing arm capable of easily making throws from deep third. While he slumped defensively with a career-worst 27 errors in 2016, one evaluator called him the best defensive player in the organization.
The Future: Anderson added time at first base in the AFL, played some second base in 2014 and played outfield in college at Arkansas. He has a floor as a utility player with power, in the Ryan Raburn mold, but the Marlins see him as a future regular at third. He probably will return to Jacksonville to start 2017 with an eye on Triple-A New Orleans by midseason.
5. Dillon Peters, lhp
Born: Aug. 31, 1992. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Texas, 2014 (10th round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Background: The “p” in the Peters family stands for pitching. His grandfather pitched semipro ball, and his father Mark pitched in college and coached Dillon in travel ball. A prep star in Indianapolis, Peters turned down big offers out of high school (the Indians drafted him in the 20th round in 2011) to go to Texas. He thrived there (17-7, 2.26) until hurting his elbow in May 2014. The Marlins drafted him that year knowing he needed Tommy John surgery and signed him for $175,000. He finished 2016 at Double-A Jacksonville.
Scouting Report: After touching 96 mph in high school, Peters’ velocity stepped back in college to the 88-92 range. But following surgery, recovery and rehabilitation, his velocity ticked back up in 2016 to where he was touching 96 mph and sitting 93-94 with sink. More impressively, the smallish lefty maintained his velocity late into games with the above-average command he had as an amateur. His curveball has tight spin and is at least an average pitch and flashes above-average. His changeup is solid-average as well. In addition, Peters has a bulldog mentality that helps his stuff play up.
The Future: Even at 5-foot-9, Peters has big league stuff and command, and he has positioned himself to help in Miami as soon as 2017. He should return to Jacksonville to begin 2017, but with his poise and makeup, could jump right to the majors if the need arises. He projects as a No. 4 starter.
6. Jarlin Garcia, lhp |
Born: Jan. 18, 1993. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2010. Signed by: Albert Gonzalez/Sandy Nin.
Background: Garcia grew up playing soccer and didn’t play baseball until he was 15, when his friends and a coach in the Dominican Republic convinced him to try the game. He was just 5-foot-7 at the time but grew seven inches before signing with the Marlins. It took Garcia three seasons to reach full-season ball, and he missed more than two months in 2016 with a triceps strain. He returned to the field as a reliever, which he also filled in the Arizona Fall League and in winter ball in the Dominican.
Scouting Report: Garcia has some of the best pure stuff in the system, with a fastball that touches 96 mph, a curveball that can be a strikeout pitch and a slider and changeup, both of which grade presently as fringe-average offerings. The lithe lefthander is athletic, with a clean delivery that helps give him above-average control. He has averaged just 2.2 walks per nine innings as a pro. Because he doesn’t have a consistent swing-and-miss secondary pitch, he will have to improve his fastball command or sharpen his curveball to remain a starter.
The Future: Garcia received a brief callup to the majors in July 2016—he was not used in his four-day stay—but he could see Marlins Park again in 2017 if he stays healthy. He has a No. 4 starter ceiling but may wind up in the bullpen.
7. Edward Cabrera, rhp
Born: April 13, 1998. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2015. Signed by: Albert Gonzalez/Sandy Nin/Domingo Ortega.
Background: Cabrera was one of five players the Marlins signed for $100,000 in July 2015. He trained with Ramon Genao, who also trained the Marlins’ most expensive signee of that class, outfielder Mario Prenza, who received $550,000. While Prenza reported to the Dominican Summer League and hit .136 in 2016, Cabrera followed an impressive showing at instructional league with a jump to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League for his pro debut.
Scouting Report: Cabrera has a tall, projectable frame and has already seen his stuff tick up since he signed. He touched 94 mph in 2016 and sat 92-93 with his fastball, and he can cut and run it in to righthanded batters. Evaluators project he could add more velocity to his fastball as he fills out physically. His slider flashes plus with good tilt, and his firm changeup, while currently below-average, flashes promise. As with most teenagers, Cabrera has some mechanical adjustments to make. For instance, he doesn’t get enough extension over his front leg.
The Future: Cabrera was one of the most sought-after players in the Marlins system as the organization went shopping for pitching help at the 2016 trade deadline. He shows uncommon poise for his age, and one evaluator said his stuff compares favorably with former Marlins farmhand (and current Astros No. 1 prospect) Francis Martes at the same age. Cabrera projects as a mid-rotation starter and should make his full-season debut in 2017.
|GCL Marlins (R)||2||6||4.21||11||7||47||54||1||10||28||.289|
8. Austin Dean, of
Born: Oct. 14, 1993. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Spring, Texas, 2012 (4th round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Background: Dean played first and second base at Klein Collins High, but the Marlins drafted him as an outfielder because of his slow footwork and because they believed his raw power would profile in left field. He turned down a chance to play at Texas with prep teammate C.J. Hinojosa (now with the Giants) when he signed for $367,200 as a 2012 fourth-round pick.
Scouting Report: Dean has a feel for the barrel, so the Marlins believed the raw power he shows in batting practice would play in games once he got out of the power-suppressing Florida State League. He hit a career-high 11 homers at Double-A Jacksonville in 2016 but appeared to sell out for the improved power production, striking out a career-worst 110 times. Pitchers got wise to Dean’s approach, or lack thereof, in the second half, when he hit .212/.262/.320 with just three homers. He has average to a tick above-average speed but attempted just three steals in 2016 after swiping 18 of 28 in 2015. He’s an average outfield defender with a below-average arm, limiting him to left field.
The Future: Dean still has time to develop, but as a left fielder, he’s going to have to get to his power more often. The Marlins have a young, talented big league outfield, so they didn’t shield Dean from the Rule 5 draft. He will be ticketed for Triple-A New Orleans in 2017.
9. Stone Garrett, of |
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Richmond, Texas, 2014 (8th round). Signed by: Ryan Wardinsky.
Background: Garrett passed on a Rice commitment to sign with the Marlins in 2014 for $162,400. He missed more than two months in 2016 after injuring his hand in an incident with 2015 first-rounder Josh Naylor that involved a knife. The Marlins termed it a “prank gone bad,” but Miami subsequently traded Naylor in July, while Garrett’s agent, Larry Reynolds, told reporters the incident was not just horseplay gone awry. Garrett needed three stitches and sustained some nerve damage to his right thumb, which necessitated surgery.
Scouting Report: Garrett has above-average strength, speed and power potential, with a premium pro body, but his raw tools need a lot of refinement. It’s difficult to gauge how much the rehab and injury factored into Garrett’s struggles upon his return—he went 10-for-76 with 24 strikeouts. Well-regarded for his self-motivating makeup, he has a lot of work to do on his offensive approach. He needs to use his lower half in his swing better to tap into his raw power. He may wind up in left field rather than center, putting further pressure on his bat.
The Future: Garrett went to instructional league before getting some extra reps in the Australian Baseball League. He’s raw enough that he could repeat low Class A Greensboro in 2017.
10. Thomas Jones, of |
Age: 18. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Laurens, S.C., 2016 (2nd round). Signed by: Blake Newsome.
Background: A two-sport star in high school, Jones drew interest from high-profile college football programs such as Notre Dame, Clemson and South Carolina. Ultimately, he chose to pass on football, as well as his college baseball commitment to Vanderbilt, to sign with the Marlins as a 2016 second-round pick for $1 million.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Jones is a physical specimen and the kind of “off-the-bus” guy scouts fall in love with. He has five-tool potential, but he’s super raw. Some evaluators see natural talent and athleticism to dream on. Others cite a lack of polish and lack of focus at times that make an already high-risk player even more risky. One evaluator said Jones has plus bat speed but lacks bat control. Another said he looks bored in the outfield and lacks the defensive chops and arm to play anywhere but left field, though his below-average power would be stretched there. He is a plus runner.
The Future: Jones is all about projection, not present ability. If he develops, he could make an impact in several aspects of the game, but the Marlins will need to take the long view. Jones will likely begin 2017 in extended spring training then head back to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
|GCL Marlins (R)||.234||.380||.313||64||11||15||3||1||0||6||11||20||6|