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2021 Miami Marlins Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update

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Functioning as a small-market, low-budget organization, the Marlins have little room for error. That means that potentially barren drafts such as 2018—Connor Scott, Will Banfield and Osiris Johnson are the top hopes from that year’s crop—are especially harmful.

The Marlins have had a hard time identifying and developing productive hitters. But second baseman Jazz Chisholm is a keeper, which is important for the franchise.

Pitching is still the strength of the system, with dominant young arms all over the place—Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez in the majors, Sixto Sanchez on the mend for 2022 and Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera and Jake Eder leading the next wave in the minors.

But one word of caution: Of Miami’s 13 projected starters when everyone is healthy—five pitchers and eight hitters—only Rogers (2017 first-rounder) and third baseman Brian Anderson (2014 third-rounder) are homegrown. Even young players who competed in Miami’s minor league system were acquired via trades—Alcantara, Lopez, Chisholm, Sixto Sanchez and Jesus Sanchez are all examples.

On their current major league roster, the Marlins have nothing to show for their Latin American signings, which is particularly galling given Miami’s position on the map and its status as a bilingual city.

Going forward, Miami is hoping to have success with international signees such as Cabrera, infielders Yiddi Cappe and Jose Salas and outfielders Jerar Encarnacion and Victor Mesa Jr.

The Marlins are also bullish on their 2020 draft. Even with just five rounds, Miami selected five pitchers with big league potential: Meyer, Dax Fulton, Kyle Nicolas, Zach McCambley and Eder.

Top 10 Prospects

1: Sixto Sanchez, RHP
Age:
22. Team: Injured

A season-ending shoulder injury impeded Sanchez’s momentum following his stellar debut in 2020, when he showed ace potential pitching to a 3.46 ERA in seven starts, including a four-start stretch when he posted a 1.00 ERA that included a 10-strikeout effort against the Rays. Sanchez initially reported shoulder discomfort in March and had arthroscopic surgery in July to fix a small tear in the posterior capsule of his right shoulder. The Marlins expect Sanchez to be ready for spring training in 2022.

2: Max Meyer, RHP
Age: 22. Team: Double-A Pensacola

The Marlins are being cautious with their prized first-rounder, letting him pitch just five innings per start on average. When he’s in there, Meyer has been effective, leading the way with his mid-90s fastball. Meyer’s slider earned plus reviews out of college. The pitch still flashes plus and when it’s on, he’s tough to barrel, but it's been an inconsistent offering for him so far this season. He’s also spent time working on his changeup, a clear third pitch in his arsenal but one he’ll need to develop into a big league starter.

3. Jesus Sanchez, OF
Age: 23. Team: Miami Marlins

Sanchez was on his way to graduating off this list before being placed on the 10-day injury list for an unspecified injury. Sanchez has bounced back from his very rough 2020 MLB debut, showing the same power and a better approach, although he still is a very aggressive hitter.

4. Jake Eder, LHP
Age: 22. Team: Double-A Pensacola

The former Vanderbilt standout with a mid-90s fastball and a high-spin curveball has vaulted up the rankings thanks to a dominant first half of the season at Double-A Pensacola. If he is able to keep this pace—or something close to it—he will be in the majors rather quickly.

5: Edward Cabrera, RHP
Age: 23. Team: Triple-A Jacksonville

Cabrera comes out of the box hot, often throwing 100 mph early in starts. Slowed by injuries previously, he needs some more innings in the minor leagues before taking his place in the Marlins rotation.

6: Kahlil Watson, SS
Age: 18. Team: Not Yet Signed

The Marlins may have gotten the steal of the 2021 draft with this prep star, who ranked sixth on the BA 500 but slipped to No. 16 overall. Watson is an explosive athlete and part of what is considered a great year for prep shortstops. Before the draft, there was even talk Watson was a dark-horse candidate to go No. 1 overall. In 66 career high school games in North Carolina, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Watson hit .477 with 16 homers and 61 steals.

7: Eury Perez, RHP
Age: 18. Team: Low-A Jupiter.

Perez has one of the highest upsides of any of the Marlins’ pitching prospects. He began the year as one of the youngest players at any level of the minor leagues, and has impressed since Day One. Perez boasts a three-pitch mix fronted by a fastball that tops out in the upper 90s, a tight slider and a changeup which flashes plus. There are plenty of steps to go before Perez reaches his ceiling, but he could settle in as a mid-rotation starter if he reaches his peak.

8. Joe Mack, C
Age: 18. Team: None.

Chosen No. 31 overall in the 2021 draft, Mack may be the best all-around prep catcher in the 2021 class. Originally committed to Clemson, Mack is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound lefthanded hitter from New York whom scouts say will remain at catcher due to his defensive skill. He has a compact swing, and he can run well for the position. In fact, in 21 games as a senior, he hit .500 with eight homers and 26 steals. Mack immediately leaps past hitting-challenged Will Banfield as Miami’s potential catcher of the future.

9. Nasim Nuñez, SS
Age: 20. Team: Low-A Jupiter

Nuñez was the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2019, out of high school in Suwanee, Ga. Though his numbers don’t jump off the page, he’s impressed evaluators since the beginning of minor league spring training. Specifically, he’s earned a rep as one of the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues. He’s also shown solid approaches from both sides of the plate, though scouts are more bullish on his righthanded swing. No matter what he does with the bat, his elite glovework alone should be enough to get him to the big leagues.

10. JJ Bleday, OF
Age: 23. Team: Double-A Pensacola

Bleday—who turns 24 in November—doesn’t seem to be on the rocket path to the majors that some may have initially projected. After banging 27 homers in his final season at Vanderbilt, Bleday has yet to find his power stroke while patrolling right field for Double-A Pensacola.

Prospects 11-30

11: Lewin Diaz, 1B

12. Braxton Garrett, LHP

13. Dax Fulton, LHP

14. Zach McCambley, RHP

15. Kameron Misner, OF

16. Peyton Burdick, OF

17. Monte Harrison, OF

18. Jose Devers, SS

19. Griffin Conine, OF

20. Jerar Encarnacion, OF

21. Nick Neidert, RHP

22. Cody Poteet, RHP

NEW Poteet was the Marlins’ fourth-round pick in 2015 out of UCLA and made his big league debut in 2021. He made seven starts for the club before going on the IL on June 28 with a right knee sprain. He operates with a four-pitch mix fronted by a four-seam fastball that averages roughly 94 mph.

23. Kyle Nicolas, RHP

24. Jordan Holloway, RHP

25. Jose Salas, SS

26. Yiddi Cappe, SS

Signed by the Marlins as part of their 2020-21 international class, Cappe is a smooth defender with above-average speed that could tick down as he matures. At the plate, he’s got long levers and needs to continue to work to sync up his body during his swing. The strength he added before signing should increase his power production.

27. Cody Morissette, SS

NEW Morissette, 21, is a lefty-hitting shortstop who draws walks, makes consistent contact and was a first-team All-ACC recipient in 2021 for Boston College.

28. Jordan McCants, SS

NEW Another lefty-hitting shortstop, McCants is only 19, and he can really run. McCants profiles as a leadoff hitter without a lot of power. He has a smattering of potentially above-average tools across the board, in addition to the double-plus speed.

29. Payton Henry, C

NEW Henry, acquired from the Brewers in the trade that sent RHP John Curtiss to Milwaukee, is a potential backup catcher whose defense and ability to work well with pitchers gives him a shot at an MLB role. He has some raw power, but that power has rarely made it into games.

30. Bryan de la Cruz, OF

NEW Acquired from the Astros for RHP Yimi Garcia, de la Cruz will get a shot to earn a fourth outfielder’s job with Miami over the rest of this season. He was in the middle of his best season as a pro when he was traded. He’s able to play a fringy center field in addition to above-average defense in the corners. With the ability to square up fastballs and improved ability to hit the ball in the air, he has a shot at being a useful big leaguer.

Anthony Volpe Mikejanesfourseam (1)

Baseball America Prospect Report — July 2, 2021

Anthony Volpe hits a grand slam, Jake Eder is lights out yet again plus a Blue Jays pitcher to know.

RISING

LHP Jake Eder has found the consistency he often lacked at Vanderbilt, becoming a dominant starter at Double-A Pensacola. His ability to finish batters with strikeouts has been eye-opening.

RHP Zach McCambley has impressed this year with impeccable control.

OF Peyton Burdick has outplayed several more touted Marlins outfield prospects. Burdick has continued to show power, but his batting average has taken a tumble this year.

FALLING

OF Monte Harrison is loaded with speed, power and potential. But he strikes out a ton, and he turns 26 on Aug. 10.

OF Connor Scott, a first-rounder in 2018 (pick No. 13), has produced just eight homers and a .243 average in his first 800 minor league at-bats. He’s not a basestealer, and even though he swings lefty, he had just a .191 average against righthanders through his first 115 at-bats of 2021 at the High-A level.

C Will Banfield is another 2018 draft pick Miami is waiting on for development. Banfield, taken No. 69 overall, struggles with the bat, although there has been a slight uptick in his power. He hit one homer every 44 at-bats in his first two years in the minors. This year, he has one homer every 34 at-bats. Still, he owns just a .199 career average with 17 homers. This year, he entered July with a .167 batting average and five homers.

GRADUATED

With sizzling speed and surprising power, 2B Jazz Chisholm is the most dynamic hitter on the Marlins’ roster. He is equally capable of a triple or a homer on any at-bat, and he appears to be Miami’s second baseman of the present and shortstop of the future.

All-star LHP Trevor Rogers is the frontrunner to win the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year award. If he remains on his current pace, he could also finish top 10 in Cy Young voting.

HURTING

RHP Sixto Sanchez looked like the best pitcher in the entire organization in 2020, but injuries wiped out his 2021 season.

LHP Daniel Castano has bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues in 2020 and 2021 but is currently on the 60-Day IL with a shoulder impingement.

SS Jose Devers, who entered the year as the system’s No. 10 prospect, has scuffled at Triple-A and is currently on the 60-Day IL with a right shoulder impingement.

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