2019 Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects Chat
To see the Marlins top 10 prospects, click here.
Kegan Lowe: Hey everyone. Thanks for the interest in the Marlins chat. Looks like we already have a good amount of questions, so let's go ahead and get started. I'll try to answer as many as I can over the next hour or so. Or until J.T. Realmuto gets traded. Whichever comes first.
- Was surprised to see Trevor Rogers outside the top 10. How close was he? What does he have to do to get back in that conversation?
Kegan Lowe: Trevor Rogers just missed the Top 10. As in, he's currently slated No. 11 in the running version of the Marlins' Top 30 that isn't finalized until we send the 2019 Prospect Handbook to press next Friday. Anyway, Rogers did the most important thing for his development this season—he got on the mound, stayed healthy and completed some much-needed innings. Sure, the results were inconsistent, but there were also some promising signs, including his mid-90s fastball and that smooth, lefthanded delivery he possesses. The easiest way for Rogers to get back into the Top 10 is probably wait until mid-April, when Sandy Alcantara will likely have made a couple more starts in the majors and graduate from the Top 10. But on a more serious note, Rogers just needs to be a little more consistent, especially with his offspeed stuff, and stay healthy while bumping up to Jupiter. Full health and a tad better results at high Class A will likely have him back in the Top 10 in 12 months.
Danny (Richmond VA):
- Hi, thanks for the chat. Is James Nelson still an interesting prospect to you?
Kegan Lowe: James Nelson is still very interesting, but there's no denying 2018 was pretty much a lost season for the Marlins' 2017 minor league player of the year. He'll need to repeat a level in Jupiter next year—or at least start the season there—but if he can return to his 2017 form then I could easily see him jumping back into the Marlins' Top 10 by the end of next season.
Ely S. (New York):
- Which Marlins prospect outside the Top 10 has the best chance to make the leap to the No. 1 spot by this time next year?
Kegan Lowe: This question kind of ties into the previous two questions. I don't think Rogers, Nelson or any one currently outside the Marlins' Top 10 should be expected to come anywhere near the No. 1 spot by next offseason, although those two—plus Braxton Garrett—would be my top three candidates. But again, I don't expect any of those three guys to be No. 1 next offseason. At least six of the Marlins' current Top 10 should still be eligible next year, so that'd be quite a jump for anyone. The best answer to this question is probably whoever the Marlins draft with their first pick in the 2019 draft. No idea who that'll be, but I'd imagine they'll automatically jump into top-five consideration, if not be in the running for the No. 1 spot.
- Thanks for chatting I’m assuming Braxton Garrett’s drop off the list says more about the improvement in the Marlins system than anything about Garrett? But how do you evaluate him? He’s missed so much development time.
Kegan Lowe: Since I brought Garrett up in the previous answer, let's talk about him. Yes, at least part of the reason Garrett is no longer in the Marlins' Top 10 is because the system has improved over the past 12 months. And yes, he is tough to evaluate, just because he's only pitched 15.1 innings in the minors since being drafted two and a half years ago. But I'm taking the "hold steady" approach with Garrett, as of now. The reports I've received were that Garrett was pitching in instructs this fall, and he should be ready to go for spring training. Similar to Rogers this past year, Garrett just needs to get on the mound and put some much-needed innings under his belt. I have a feeling we'll have a much better idea of Garrett's ceiling this time next year.
Barry (Palm Beach, FL):
- Thanks for chatting. How close was Osiris Johnson to the top 10, and what's his upside?
Kegan Lowe: Osiris Johnson was close. Let's call it the 12-16 range, since I already told everyone Rogers currently sits No. 11. In terms of upside, I'd hate to put a ceiling on Johnson. He was one of the youngest players in the 2018 draft, and he has some loud, albeit rather raw, tools. Sounds like the Marlins like what they saw from him at shortstop, and I think there's some plus raw power in his bat. His ability to handle professional pitching and how well he hits will obviously be key. He should head to Clinton this year, joining the likes of Connor Scott and Will Banfield, in what could be the Marlins' most exciting minor league affiliate in 2019.
Frank (Indianapolis, IN):
- How many of these guys are worthy of making the BA 100 list?
Kegan Lowe: Full disclosure here: I don't sit in on the official Top 100 meetings here at BA, although I feel like I have a pretty good *unofficial* answer to this question. My best guess is that Victor Victor Mesa will definitely crack the Top 100. I think there will be arguments made for and against Sandy Alcantara, Monte Harrison and Nick Neidert. Do I think all four of them make the next Top 100? I'll guess no. Do I think the Marlins have at least two representatives in the next Top 100? I'll guess yes. Unofficially, of course.
- Predict for us what role Jorge Guzman will be in, in five years' time. Thanks.
Kegan Lowe: This is an interesting question, because I think Guzman has an extremely wide range of what he could be in five years. If you made me pick just one role for Guzman, I'd guess he was a flame-throwing late-inning reliever in 2023. But don't get that confused with his ceiling, because you could make a very sound argument that Guzman has the best pure stuff of any pitcher in the organization. He has the potential of a top-of-the-rotation starter. I'm just not 100 percent sure he'll get there. The control issues still worry me, but as we see every year, there's still a lot of value if he could become an effective reliever throwing 102 mph in the eighth or ninth innings.
Angie (Las Vegas):
- Hey thanks for the chat! What baseball prospect has the best chance of becoming a 30-30 guy in the bigs? Please tell me it's Monte Harrison!!!!
Kegan Lowe: I'm pretty sure you mean Marlins prospect, and not just any baseball prospect? Since this is the Marlins' chat, let's go with that. Yes, I think Monte Harrison has the best chance of becoming a 30-30 guy in the big leagues. Of course, there is a concern that his strikeout rate won't come down and he'll struggle to hit well enough to reach 30 homers, but he made some swing/load adjustments this fall, so let's see how he performs in 2019 before we make any definitive conclusions. I think you also have to think about Victor Victor Mesa here. His power isn't nearly that of Harrison's, but he's projected to be a better hitter and we could still see a jump in his power tool before he reaches the majors. 30 is the new 20, anyway. Or at least I think I remember someone saying something like that one time.
- Is Tyler Kolek still considered a prospect? Will he rank in the Top 30? If so, what's his ceiling?
Kegan Lowe: Technically, yes, Tyler Kolek is still considered a prospect. But no, he will not rank in the Marlins' Top 30, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many evaluators who would seriously argue for him to be included. He's just getting ready to turn 23 years old, so there's obviously still time for him to turn his career around. But he hasn't pitched above low Class A, and he's thrown just 19.1 innings since the end 2015. And it's not like they were a great 19.1 innings. But hey, in his last two appearances in 2018 he threw a combined five scoreless innings, struck out six and walked only one. I hope he proves me, and many others, wrong.
- Where would this system rank? In the 20-30 range perhaps?
Kegan Lowe: I think that's fair. We ranked them No. 24 in last year's Prospect Handbook, but that was before the Yelich trade that sent Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto to the Marlins. Brinson has since graduated, Harrison and Diaz are obviously in the Top 10, and Yamamoto will very likely be in the Marlins' Top 20. Yet, there were also some prospects who didn't perform quite as well as we were projecting this time last year. I think 20-25 is still fair. And with the seemingly inevitable Realmuto trade likely coming this offseason, I think that range is more likely to move closer to 15-20 than 25-30. For some perspective, we haven't ranked the Marlins' farm system inside the top 20 since they ranked as the game's 5th-best system prior to the 2014 season.
- If I'm looking for a strong OBP/contact guy in this system, who should I look out for?
Kegan Lowe: Brian Miller was voted as the best hitter for average in the system, and his strikeout rate seems to hover around 12-13 percent, which is pretty dang good for someone playing pro baseball in 2018. In terms of strong OBP, a quick peruse of the Marlins' minor league stats would lead me to say Davis Bradshaw and Tristan Pompey are two players you might like from Miami's latest draft class.
Frank (Detroit, MI):
- What does Yamamoto project as to you?
Kegan Lowe: I think he could be a mid-rotation starter. He's a tad undersized, but he has three average-or-better pitches and has shown solid control. Reports I received from the AFL were encouraging. I'd say one more full year in the minors would be beneficial, but he was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and could be in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Harrison (RR, TX):
- Jose Devers is young, and it looks like he will likely be a defense minded regular in the big leagues. Is there a particular reason the Marlins FO is so enthusiastic about him? Potential future ceiling when he grows into his body etc?
Kegan Lowe: I think you hit the nail on the head in your first sentence. Devers is young, and he's already performed well at low Class A despite being one of the younger players at that level. He's the best defensive infielder in the system, and evaluators don't seem to be afraid to say he'll be a plus defensive shortstop. As you mentioned, he still needs to grow into his body. But all that should do is help him over the next few years. In addition too all of that, I've heard multiple times that people really like the way Devers carries himself on and off the field. They seem to really like his makeup, which obviously never hurts when you're projecting whether or not a young player will ever reach his ceiling.
- Could former College World Series hero John Norwood get some MLB time this season, given the rebuilding stage that MIA is in? He looks like he could be a valuable 4th OF type, power, speed, etc.
Kegan Lowe: I'm always here for a Vanderbilt question. To go a tad inside baseball here, Norwood was right on the cusp of making the Marlins' Top 30 last year (before the Marlins completely revamped their farm system with trades). Unfortunately for Norwood, the Marlins have added a lot of outfielders to their system, and then he struggled while repeating Double-A in 2018. I'm not saying it's impossible, but he'll have to return to his 2017 form if he wants to be considered in any of the Marlins' future plans.
Tyler (Green Bay):
- Do you have a MLB comp for Will Banfield?
Kegan Lowe: Comps are difficult, especially for a 19-year-old high school catcher playing one of the toughest positions in baseball. So while I won't give you a specific name, think of a plus defensive catcher with a plus or maybe even plus-plus arm. That's Banfield. It'll be much easier to get an idea for what he could be as a professional hitter this time next year, once he has a full season under his belt. But for now, it all starts with Banfield's defense.
Tyler (Green Bay, WI):
- When do you think we could see Victor Mesa Jr in single A Clinton?
Kegan Lowe: I'd say you're still probably two years away from seeing Victor Mesa Jr. in low Class A Clinton. He'll be 17 years old for all of the 2019 season, but if he performs well in his first years stateside then I won't completely rule out a Clinton appearance in 2020. I'd say 2021 is more likely, however.
DM (Pembroke Pines):
- Hey Kegan, being that JT's return will likely be on this list; I'm hoping to sneak this in as a related-question :) Of those rumored, who intrigues you the most for this farm? Trammell, Riley, Verdugo, Rosario, etc.
Kegan Lowe: Finally, a Realmuto question! If I'm making the decisions for the Marlins (spoiler alert: I'm not), then I'd rank those four options: Trammell, Verdugo, Riley and Rosario. But so much of that depends on what those players are surrounded with. For example, if I could get Austin Riley, one of their pitching prospects, like a Mike Soroka or Touki Toussaint, and a suitable Realmuto replacement in Tyler Flowers (since the Braves would now have Realmuto, Brian McCann and Flowers in this scenario), then I'd be much more intrigued by that offer.
- Please let us know who your best "comp" is for Victor Victor Mesa, thanks!
Kegan Lowe: The one I've heard most often is Victor Robles. Now, maybe people are just being lazy because they have the same first name, play the same position and have a similar stature. But I choose to believe the best in people, so we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and stick with the Robles comparison.
- What did Jeff Brigham show in 2018? Where does he factor into the Marlins' plans going forward?
Kegan Lowe: When healthy, Brigham is a very interesting piece. I don't know if he'll ever be a full-time starter in the big leagues, but I could see his stuff playing up in a bullpen role, and he'd obviously be able to pitch 2-3 innings at a time in that scenario. I did hear that some scouts thought his stuff backed up when he made those four September starts this past season, but that's not unexpected for a guy who's struggled with injuries and finally made it to the big leagues after a long minor league career. Sounds like he could have just been overthrowing and putting too much pressure on himself. I'd expect to see him in Miami a lot more this season. The Marlins like him as a starter, so I'm sure he'll get every opportunity to start before a potential transition to the bullpen would be brought up.
Alex (Rank the 2018 Draft HS Bats):
- The best HS bats from the 2018 draft seem to be Jarred Kelenic, Jordan Groshans, Nolan Gorman, Tirstan Casas, Grant Lavigne, and Connor Scott. How would you rank this group based on best FV hit/power potential?
Kegan Lowe: I'd phone'd a friend on this question and asked our draft guru @CarlosACollazo. This was his response: "Well, first off, whoever asked that left out Brice Turang, but... Hit: Kelenic, Casas/Groshans, Gorman/Scott/Lavigne; Power: Gorman, Casas, Lavinge, Groshans, Kelenic, Scott
- Scott did not have the strongest debut in the GCL, yet the Marlins aggressively pushed him to LoA to end the year. Scott was billed as an advanced HS bat but did not produce at either level. What were scouts thoughts after seeing him at both stops? Is the consensus still a FV 60 hit / 50 power?
Kegan Lowe: We have a lot of Connor Scott questions, so I'll try to address him here. First off, I wouldn't be much stock, if any, in Scott's 2018 numbers. The Marlins were admittedly super aggressive in pushing him to low Class A in his draft year, and he'll likely spend all of 2019 at that same level. And that would be true even if he hit .400/.500/.600 in the GCL and in Greensboro in 2018. I think there is some obvious rawness to Scott's game, maybe even moreso than other HS bats in the same draft, just because Scott dealt with some injuries in HS and didn't play as much as a lot of those other top guys. I wouldn't make any changes to Scott's potential hit and power grades until he has a much bigger sample size in the minors.
Kegan Lowe: And with that, I'm out of here. I appreciate everyone stopping by and asking questions. If you haven't already, make sure to go ahead and pre-order your 2019 Prospect Handbook and finish all your holiday shopping at store.baseballamerica.com; If you've already read this entire chat, then I'm confident you won't regret purchasing that book. So long, everybody!