2021-22 International Reviews: Miami Marlins
Instead of investing most of their pool space into one player, the Marlins spread their money around to nearly 60 players in what will likely be the largest signing class of any club.
One reason for the huge signing class is that the Marlins this year are adding a second team in the Dominican Summer League, with a new academy in Boca Chica that should be fully operational by the end of the year.
While the speed of players committing to clubs early only continues to accelerate, the Marlins have taken a more deliberate approach. That left them with more pool space to maneuver further in the process as players either popped up or developed later, particularly on the pitching side.
The Marlins also had turnover in their international department. Under former international director Fernando Seguignol, who joined the team after the 2017 season, the Marlins brought in an outstanding 2019 class led by the team's No. 1 prospect, Eury Perez, with shortstop Jose Salas and second baseman Ian Lewis also in that class and ranked among the team's top 10 prospects.
Near the end of the 2021 season, however, the Marlins changed international leadership. The team promoted Adrian Lorenzo, who had been their director of baseball operations in his fourth year with the Marlins after six years with the Red Sox in international scouting, to become their senior director of international operations. Roman Ocumarez, a highly respected scout based in the Dominican Republic who had been involved in signing several of Houston's talented pitchers from Latin America, was brought in as international scouting director. Manager of international scouting David Hernandez and international crosschecker Adrian Puig—who had been a pro scout and area scout with the organization—will also play key roles for Miami's international operation. So will Manny Padron, an international crosschecker who had been Toronto's area scout in south Florida in Puerto Rico the last two years after having previously been with Boston as their Venezuelan scouting coordinator.
Top Of The Class
The Marlins didn't sign any players for a seven-figure bonus, but they added a pair of Dominican outfielders who jump out in their class. One of them is Antony Peguero, who has a promising foundation of athleticism, power and explosiveness, with the ability to translate that power in game situations. His quick-twitch actions are evident at the plate, where he takes a simple swing with fast bat speed to generate impressive raw power for his age. Against live pitching, he performed well as an amateur with consistent contact. He's around an average runner with the defensive instincts and actions to start his career in center field, though he most likely will end up in right field. Peguero has the power for a corner and his throwing grades out at least plus with a chance for a 70 arm as he gets stronger.
Another Dominican outfielder, Jose Gerardo has quickly emerged as one of the most promising prospects from Miami's signing group. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Gerardo has a strong but lean, lively frame with a lot of flexibility and quick-twitch athleticism that stands out quickly. His athleticism and mobility are evident in the way he swings and he has the ability to whip the barrel through the zone to drive the ball well for his age with a chance to develop above-average power given the physical projection remaining. Gerardo is a tick above-average runner who has a chance to stay in center field, though some scouts think he might ultimately outgrow it and end up in right field. His best tool is an outstanding arm that has been clocked up to 102 mph from the outfield, drawing 80 grades from some scouts and giving him a fallback option as a pitcher.
Names To Know
Yoffry Solano, SS, Dominican Republic: Solano is an offensive-oriented middle infielder and a switch-hitter who is a little more advanced from the right side with good balance and bat-to-ball skills. He's a line-drive hitter with gap power, with average speed and arm strength and a chance to develop into a bat-driven second baseman.
Santiago Suarez, RHP, Venezuela: Suarez brings a promising mix of present stuff, projection and pitchability for his age. He's 6-foot-1, 175 pounds with sound mechanics that help him throw a lot of strikes with a fastball that's already up to 94 mph with riding life at the top of the zone. There should be more velocity coming for Suarez, who has a starter's profile and feel to spin a breaking ball.
Juan De la Cruz, RHP, Dominican Republic: The 16-year-old righthander is an arrow-up pitcher, with a good delivery, advanced feel for pitching and more strength projection to add to what's already impressive stuff for his age. He's up to 94 mph now with good carry up in the zone and has a chance to develop an above-average breaking ball that already has tight rotation and good shape.
Jhon Cabral, RHP, Dominican Republic: Cabral is young for the class, but he's already up to 94 mph with good life and the projection for more as he fills out his lanky 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. Cabral has a controlled, efficient delivery, and while he's not quite as polished as Suarez, he has a potential out pitch with his curveball, which has good shape and rotation.
Julio Mendez, LHP, Venezuela: Mendez has a compact 6-foot frame, with big hands and enough projection remaining to throw in the mid 90s. Right now he's already up to 93 mph with good carry up in the zone. He's athletic with a quality three-pitch mix, including a breaking ball that has good power and shape and feel for a changeup.
Cherif Neymour, SS, Bahamas: Neymour is an athletic shortstop with plus-plus speed, sound defensive actions and a good chance to stick at the position. He needs to get stronger and catch up to some of his peers as far as game reps, but he shows solid bat-to-ball skills already and signs of a patient approach.
Byron Chourio, OF, Venezuela: Chourio has a lot of physical projection left in his lean, athletic, 6-foot-2 frame. He has good body control that's evident at the plate, where he has a balanced swing from both sides of the plate with good feel for hitting and the ability to leverage the ball in the air, which along with the quickness of his hands bodes well for his gap power to grow once he gets stronger. More strength could also help his slightly above-average speed tick up and enhance his chance to stay in center field, where he has a strong arm.
Walin Castillo, RHP, Dominican Republic: Castillo has a highly projectable frame (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) with a high waist and long limbs to project significantly more velocity coming once he packs on more weight. His fastball is already up to 93 mph and he has shown feel for both his breaking ball and changeup, so there's significant upside once he gets stronger.
Darwin Rodriguez, RHP/OF, Venezuela: Rodriguez showcased as an outfielder who had physicality, big raw power for his age and a strong arm. That power also came with a high swing-and-miss rate, but when he got on the mound, he quickly reached the low 90s with a lively fastball. That prompted the Marlins to sign him as a two-way player, though his upside looks greater on the mound. He's still new to pitching, but he has been up to 94 mph with feel for a breaking ball as well.
Rodolfo De La Cruz, RHP, Dominican Republic: De la Cruz is a passed over player from a previous class but is still 17 with a lively fastball up to 96 mph. He's 6-foot-2 with extremely strong hands and more projection where he could be reaching 100 mph eventually, with more power than polish.
Luis Cesar, LHP, Dominican Republic: Cesar is an athletic 6-foot-2 pitcher with a loose, easy arm that produces an unusual look for hitters with natural cutting action from the left side on a fastball that gets up to 92 mph. His fastball is his best pitch ahead of his breaking ball, with the sneaky qualities on his fastball that should be difficult for DSL hitters to barrel.
Danny Gonzalez, OF, Dominican Republic: In a showcase environment, Gonzalez doesn't stick out immediately because he doesn't have one loud tool, but he has maturity in the batter's box that's advanced for his age. He's a bat-driven outfielder who has a simple swing, tracks the ball well and stays disciplined in the strike zone, leading to a high contact rate in games with doubles power from the right side of the plate.
With the way the Marlins spread around their money, a lot of the players above could classify as sleepers. A couple of deep sleepers to watch signed as passed over players from previous classes—outfielder Robert Perez and righthander Rusbelt Trinidad, both from the Dominican Republic. Perez still has some rawness to his game, but his tools stick out quickly. He's a plus-plus runner in center field with impressive raw power for his age, so there's an intriguing power/speed mix if things click. Trinidad is a little bit older at 19, with more physical projection in his lean 6-foot-3 frame to add to a fastball that has been up to 94 mph with a lot of deception that could translate to early success at least at the lower levels.