Miami Marlins 2019 Top 30 MLB Prospects Midseason Update
UPDATE: The Marlins Top 30 now includes moves made through the July 31 trade deadline.
The Marlins have the worst record in the National League, which is to say that the season has gone largely as expected in Miami. This is a franchise that is in the midst of a multi-year rebuild, but also a franchise that can say it’s in a better spot now than it was this time last year, no matter what the win-loss record says.
The Marlins are an obvious seller at this year’s July 31 trade deadline, but after moving pieces such as Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto in the last couple of years, there’s not much left to sell.
Starlin Castro would be an obvious trade candidate as a veteran in the final year of his contract, and would carry the added bonus of opening up a spot for prospect Isan Diaz at second base, but it’s unclear what his market would be. Righthander Sergio Romo could be an intriguing relief option for a contender looking to fortify its bullpen, and the Marlins would generally be wise to move any veteran who doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans for the 2021 season or beyond.
1. Sixto Sanchez, RHP
Acquired in the offseason trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia, Sanchez gives the Marlins a potential front-of-the-rotation starter armed with an upper-90s fastball and two potentially plus offspeed offerings.
2. Jesus Sanchez, OF
Sanchez has been a little too easy to get out when pitchers attack him on the inner half this year, but the tools are still there to be an everyday regular in a corner outfield spot. Miami acquired Sanchez on July 31 via the Rays.
3. JJ Bleday, OF
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bleday led all Division I hitters in home runs (27) this spring while manning right field for the national championship-winning Vanderbilt Commodores. Although it took up until the draft’s signing deadline day on July 12, Bleday signed with the Marlins for a slightly overslot $6.67 million—the fourth-highest bonus given in the 2019 draft.
4. Isan Diaz, 2B
An offensive-minded second baseman, Diaz has hit a career-high 20 home runs through his first 83 games at Triple-A New Orleans in 2019. While his above-average hit tool and plus power are the main attractions, Diaz has also proven to be a capable defender at second base.
5. Edward Cabrera, RHP
Cabrera dominated the high Class A Florida State League before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville on June 23. Armed with a mid- to upper-90s fastball and two potentially plus offspeed offerings, Cabrera is striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings while showing improved command.
6. Jazz Chisholm, SS
Chisholm’s steep swing has been exploited in Double-A, where he’s chasing fastballs up in the zone and breaking balls in the dirt, striking out an alarming 35 percent of the time.
7. Monte Harrison, OF
Harrison is an enticing power-speed threat who can impact the game in a myriad of ways. He’s increased his walk rate and cut down his strikeout rate in 2019, although there is still a bit more swing-and-miss in Harrison’s game than evaluators would like.
The No. 1 international free agent in 2018, Mesa signed with the Marlins out of Cuba for $5.25 million last October. Mesa has the chance to be a toolsy, impact player, but the 5-foot-9, 165-pound center fielder needs to add more physicality in order to drive the baseball more often.
9. Braxton Garrett, LHP
The Marlins’ first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in 2016, Garrett underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2017. After missing all of 2018, Garrett returned to the mound this season and immediately rediscovered his low- to mid-90s velocity and the plus, swing-and-miss curveball that made him such a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school.
10. Lewin Diaz, 1B
Diaz improved his body over the offseason, and he has come back a more agile athlete without sacrificing his big-time power. He’s also earned a reputation as one of the better defensive first basemen in the minors. He was traded to Miami via the Twins in the Sergio Romo deal.
11. Trevor Rogers, LHP
A 6-foot-6 lefthander, Rogers looks much more comfortable in his second full season after the Marlins made him the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Equipped with a smooth, easy delivery and solid command, Rogers pitches off a low-90s fastball and features both a slider and changeup that flash above-average potential.
12. Jose Devers, SS
Devers is a slightly-built, glove-first shortstop, but his contact-oriented swing and plus speed have allowed him to post a .325/.385/.366 slash line against the older, more physically developed competition of the high Class A Florida State League. Devers has struggled with a series of minor injuries over the past 12 months, including a recent groin injury.
13. Nick Neidert, RHP
14. Connor Scott, OF
15. Jorge Guzman, RHP
16. Jordan Yamamoto, RHP
17. Kameron Misner, OF
18. Jordan Holloway, RHP
19. Nasim Nunez, SS
20. Will Banfield, C
21. Jerar Encarnacion, OF
22. Victor Mesa Jr., OF
23. Osiris Johnson, SS
24. Jose Salas, SS
25. Evan Fitterer, RHP
26. Tristan Pompey, OF
27. Brian Miller, OF
28. Robert Dugger, RHP
29. Matt Givin, RHP
30. Will Stewart, LHP
Southern League Top 20 Prospects For 2019
The Southern League was stacked with prospects this year, with perhaps its greatest quantity and variety of position players in a long time.
RHP Zac Gallen has risen to the point that he won’t be on this list much longer, as he should exhaust prospect eligibility later this summer as a newfound mainstay in the Marlins’ rotation. Commonly seen as a potential No. 4 or No. 5 starter before the season began, Gallen’s improved command and sharpened offspeed offerings have pushed his ceiling to that of a potential No. 3 starter at the major league level.
Not included in the Marlins’ Top 30 Prospects list entering 2019, outfielder Jerar Encarnacion now finds himself inside the top 20 in an improving system. A physical, 6-foot-4, 219-pound corner outfielder, Encarnacion has cut down his strikeout rate and tapped into more of his plus raw power this season. He’s already hit a career-high 13 home runs while splitting time between two Class A levels after hitting just 10 home runs in his first 115 career games.]
1B Lewin Diaz had some of the best power potential in the Twins’ system for several years, but he’s struggled to get to that power in games. He’s done a better job of getting into situations where he can really drive the ball in 2019.
The Marlins’ minor league player of the year in 2017, 3B James Nelson has undergone a precipitous fall over the past season and a half. Some of his poor performance can be attributed to nagging knee and hamstring injuries Nelson dealt with in 2018. But this season he’s avoided the injured list yet still managed just a .199/.265/.277 slash line through 75 games in his second season with high Class A Jupiter.
After a breakout season in the Phillies’ organization, LHP Will Stewart was one of three players, including current Marlins’ No. 1 prospect Sixto Sanchez, sent to the Marlins in exchange for catcher J.T. Realmuto this past February. Stewart’s transition to the Marlins’ system and the typically pitcher-friendly high Class A Florida State League hasn’t gone as planned, however. The 22-year-old posted a 6.10 ERA and .291 opponent average through his first 13 starts, and he struck out a career-low 6.59 hitters per nine innings in that same time frame.
RHP Nick Neidert made just three starts for Triple-A New Orleans before going on the injured list with right knee tendinitis on April 29. The 22-year-old was the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2018, and the Marlins are optimistic he may be able to return to the mound some time in August.
SS Osiris Johnson, the Marlins’ second-round pick in 2018, has yet to play in 2019. The 6-foot, 181-pound shortstop has been dealing with a right leg injury, and the Marlins are hopeful he will be able to re-join low Class A Clinton before the end of the season.
The Marlins’ No. 1 prospect heading into 2018 and their No. 3 prospect entering this season, RHP Sandy Alcantara was selected as the organization’s representative for this year’s All-Star Game. Alcantara entered the All-Star break with a 3.82 ERA in a team-best 101.1 innings, and the 6-foot-4 righthander has proven he should be considered a vital piece of the Marlins’ starting rotation moving forward.
OF Austin Dean has bounced back and forth between Triple-A New Orleans and Miami in each of the past two seasons, with the 25-year-old finally graduating from prospect status in May. The Marlins’ No. 25 prospect entering 2019, Dean has struggled to make much of an offensive impact in the majors, hitting just .216/.252/.352 in 199 career at-bats.