2023 Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects Chat

Josh Norris answered questions regarding the Marlins farm system. You can read the full transcript below.

Josh Norris: Like the sands through the hourglass, this is the chat of our lives.

Ely (Fish Stripes):

     Still hopeful about Sixto, I see. Didn’t expect to see him in this Top 10. Can you think of other recent pitching prospects who went 2 full years without any official game appearances due to shoulder injury and returned as viable starters? At this point, likelihood seems high that he won’t regain pre-injury stuff.

Josh Norris: Sixto’s ranking is partially because of the promise he showed in the big leagues and partially because of just how thin Miami’s system is right now. Do I believe he’s just going to come back as spectacular as he was in 2020? No I don’t. But do I believe he’s still among the best they’ve got right now. Yes.

Evan (New York):

     Have you heard any preliminary reports on Jake Eder? Prior to the injury, he was in the middle of the top 100 and looking like a big part of the Marlins future rotation. Is it reasonable to expect him to rank back that high again if he looks good in the spring?

Josh Norris: Nothing that would illuminate what he’s going to look like post-surgery. When I checked in with the Marlins in October he’d thrown a couple of simulated innings in Jupiter, but that’s the extent of it. His ranking is based largely on the promise he showed in 2021.

Kahlil W. (Jupiter, FL):

     I used to be in the Top 100, now I am no longer in the Marlins top 10. What happened this year? Do evaluators think that I will be able to turn it around?

Josh Norris: You struck out a lot and had serious makeup issues that put up a lot of red flags. The general summation of many of the reports on Kahlil are: You can still see the tools that made him a first-rounder, but there’s a long way to go for him to get there.

Warren (New London):

     The Marlins tried for years to make a position player out of Sean Reynolds, though it always seemed hopeless despite his enormous raw power. Was that their idea or his? Now that he is a power reliever instead, what’s the outlook for him? Is the stuff good enough to get him into the 30?

Josh Norris: Sean Reynolds is slated to be a minor league free agent. If he re-signs with the Marlins, he will find a place in their Top 30.

Warren (New London):

     Kahlil Watson was #2 on this list last year, and I don’t see any hint of makeup issues in your writeup in the 2022 Prospect Handbook. How big a surprise were they? Do you think they played a role in his slide to the 16th overall pick? What is the outlook for him going forward?

Josh Norris: Yes, I do, believe they played a role in his slide. I know we were very shocked on draft night when he was sliding down the board and generally believed the Marlins got a steal with Watson where they picked. Unfortunately, between the swing-and-miss issues (a strikeout rate of 35%) and the makeup issues, there’s a long way to go to reclaim the lost prospect stock.

Shane K (Mass):

     Who is one Marlins hitter and one pitcher you see taking off this year outside the top 10-15?

Josh Norris: On the hitting side, I’d go with Marco Vargas, an infielder in the DSL who did a really good job controlling the zone by neither chasing nor whiffing at pitches in the zone often. If those bat-to-ball skills continue up the ladder, he could be a pop-up guy. On the pitching side, people really like reliever Josh Simpson, who has two plus weapons in his fastball and breaking ball and fringe-average command that could lead him to a big league debut in 2023.

Tom (Medfield, MA):

     Groshans had a .158 ISO in AA in 2021, and then the power disappeared. What happened? Is he a 6’3″ version of Nick Madrigal or is there more here?

Josh Norris: That’s the big question. Evaluators inside and outside of the system have questions about Groshans’ power. The root of the issue, in their eyes, stems from the way his swing moves over his front side, which lessens the impact of his swing. If he can fix that aspect of his game, perhaps he can find the power to profile at a corner spot.

Warren (New London):

     Thanks for answering my Kahlil Watson question. I have kind of a silly follow-up question: this isn’t the first time this has happened to the Marlins, who spent a first round pick on Jeff Allison some years ago when it seemed that some other teams knew he had a serious drug problem. I know that was a long time ago and the front office personnel is different, but have the Marlins just been unlucky, or have they been behind other teams in doing due diligence on makeup issues?

Josh Norris: Jeff Allison. Wow. That is indeed some time ago. I’d say that makeup is one of the most difficult things to evaluate while also being one of the most important things to evaluate. With a guy like Watson, whose issues seemed to stem in part from the struggles he was having at the plate, there’s a conundrum: How can you tell how a player will handle failure … when you’ve never seen him fail? I know there were questions about Watson’s two-strike approach coming into the draft, but the issues he presented at Low-A this year were unexpected.

Chamaco (Mexico):

     The Marlins’ 2026 projected roster. Pitching = fire emoji. Hitting = sad face emoji. What is behind Miami’s struggle to draft, sign and/or develop hitters? Are there any lessons they can learn from the pitching side of things?

Josh Norris: Hard to say without going completely under the hood, but I say that they have nailed quite picks in the not-too-distant past: Stanton, Yelich, Realmuto are all pretty darn good players. They just chose not to pony up the money to keep them. The Marlins are obviously going through a bit of a regime change in terms of PD and scouting right now, which will make it interesting to follow as the new group gets its collective hands on the young talent the system has at the lowest levels.

Josh Norris: Thanks for the questions, all. I’ll check back in when the Giants and Rangers list come out. Happy holidays until then!

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