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Yelich is a product of the Westlake High (Westlake Village, Calif.) program that produced big leaguers Matt Franco, Mike Lieberthal, Mike Nickeas and John Snyder. One of the best hitters available in the 2010 draft, he went 23rd overall and signed for an above-slot $1.7 million bonus at the deadline. He spent a week at low Class A Greensboro at the end of his truncated pro debut, then returned there in 2011. Yelich caught fire in the second half, batting .354/.423/.568 with 10 of his 15 homers. His dramatic 15th-inning home run in the opening game of the playoffs set the Grasshoppers on the path to the South Atlantic League title. He finished third in the SAL in batting (.312) and ranked among league leaders in doubles (32), total bases (223), steals (32), on-base percentage (.388) and OPS (.871). The Marlins named him their minor league player of the year. The Marlins loved Yelich's pure swing in high school and are even more enamored with it now. He's a rhythm hitter with an advanced approach at the plate, already demonstrating an understanding of which pitches to attack and which to let go. He has quick hands, covers the zone well with his long arms and lines balls to all fields. Early in the season, he was getting beat on balls because he wasn't starting his swing soon enough. Once he worked out those timing issues and became more familiar with the league, his confidence and his performance took off. He also learned to condense his strike zone and hone in on pitches he could drive. Yelich has power to center field as well as to his pull side, and while he doesn't project as an elite slugger, he should be a threat for 25 homers annually once he fills out his lanky frame and learns to create more leverage in his swing. His solid-average to plus speed and baserunning acumen are even better than Miami expected. He was caught just five times in 37 steal attempts. He's a glider in the outfield, covering ground with long strides. A first baseman in high school, he played both left and center at Greensboro. At times he still appears to be thinking instead of reacting instinctively in the outfield, but he has put in a lot of extra early work to improve his defense. His raw arm strength is average, though his throwing is hindered by poor mechanics and a long arm stroke, which Miami believes can be ironed out. The organization loves his attitude, work ethic and competitive nature. Yelich should open 2012 at high Class A Jupiter, surrounded by the same teammates who helped him raise a flag in Greensboro. He's a good bet to advance faster than the rest of them, however, and may not need a full season in the Florida State League. While the Marlins plan to keep giving him time in center field, he projects as a left fielder with better than average range. His swing elicits comparisons to Will Clark and should eventually land him in the No. 3 spot in Miami's order.
Ozuna led the short-season New York-Penn League with 21 home runs and 60 RBIs in 2010 despite striking out in 35 percent of his at-bats. He struggled early in 2011 but put it all together in the second half, hitting .310/.371/.585 with 15 homers. He batted .353 with three homers in seven playoff games as Greensboro won the South Atlantic League title. Ozuna wows scouts with his tools, especially his well above-average raw power and bazooka arm. Before 2011, he had lacked plate discipline and shown a particular susceptibility to breaking balls down and out of the zone. After putting in extra time with Grasshoppers hitting coach Kevin Randel and learning to focus on finding pitches he could drive to the middle of the field, Ozuna took a huge step forward. He has slightly above-average speed and was caught only twice in 19 steal attempts last season. He uses his athleticism well in right field, where he shows above-average range and a strong arm, though his throwing accuracy can improve. The Marlins love his infectious enthusiasm for the game. Ozuna will advance to high Class A and attempt to maintain the gains he showed in the second half of 2011. His ability to manage his strike zone will dictate how quickly he moves.
Fernandez fled Cuba in a speedboat with his mother and sister in 2008, finding freedom on their second escape attempt. He learned English after settling in Tampa, where he led Alonso High to two Florida 6-A state championships in three years. The Marlins drafted him 14th overall last June and signed him to an above-slot $2 million bonus at the Aug. 15 deadline. Fernandez offers a power arsenal, starting with a fastball that ranges from 92-95 mph and reaches as high as 97. His two-seamer doesn't sink as much as it bores in on righthanders. His four-seamer has a little run to it but at times comes in too straight. He throws both a sharp-breaking curveball and a hard slider, and he also shows feel for a promising changeup. Fernandez uses his lower half well, getting in position to explode through his hips. While he'll overthrow on occasion, leaving the ball up in the zone, his command projects as average to plus. Despite his size, he's a good athlete. Fernandez will compete for a job in low Class A during his first spring training. He profiles as a No. 2 starter in the big leagues, though he'll need time to develop.
Dominguez and Chatsworth (Calif.) High teammate Mike Moustakas were both firstround picks in 2007, with Dominguez signing for $1.8 million as the No. 12 choice. The No. 1 prospect on this list a year ago, he entered spring training favored to win a starting job. But he batted just .190 before he was reassigned to minor league camp, where a pitch fractured his left elbow and cost him the first five weeks of the season. Dominguez's calling card always has been his defense. He possesses Gold Glove ability, with good anticipation, quick feet, smooth hands and a strong, accurate arm. He has yet to make the same kind of impact at the plate, however. Dominguez's hand-eye coordination works against him, as he believes he can put the bat on pitches he needs to let go. He gets tied up on the inner half and rarely drives the ball with authority. If he can become more selective and repeat his swing, he could become an average hitter with average power. He has below-average speed but good instincts. After making his big league debut in September, Dominguez will challenge for the third-base job again in spring training. He'll likely need some more time at Triple-A New Orleans before his bat is ready.
A star quarterback in high school, Realmuto set national records in 2010 with 88 hits and 119 RBIs while hitting .595 with 28 home runs. The Marlins signed him for $600,000 in the third round that summer and moved him from shortstop to catcher. After they shortened his stride and started his hands in a better hitting position, he batted .299/.351/.519 in the second half of 2011 with all 12 of his homers--including one off a rehabbing Stephen Strasburg. Realmuto projects as a solid hitter, though he gets in trouble at times expanding his zone. He's still learning which pitches to drive and when to pull balls to tap into his average power. A gifted all-around athlete, his plus speed stands out for a catcher. With his agility, soft hands and strong arm, he has the tools to be an aboveaverage defender. He threw out 42 percent of basestealers in 2011 while exhibiting 1.9- second pop times. He needs to get better on blocking pitches and committed 25 passed balls in 76 games, many a result of trying to keep pitches in the strike zone. Realmuto will move a level at a time as he incorporates the many adjustments the Marlins have thrown at him. He has blown by 2008 first-rounder Kyle Skipworth as Miami's catcher of the future.
James signed for $1.7 million at the deadline after being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. After going 5-10 at Greensboro in his pro debut, he began 2011 0-13 before winning five of his final seven decisions. His older brother Justin pitched briefly with the 2010 Athletics. After touching 95 mph in low Class A, James' fastball backed up in 2011, ranging from 90-93 mph early in the season and down to 89-91 by the end. The heat and humidity in the Florida State League may have worn him down, and he also sacrificed velocity in an effort to gain more consistency with his delivery and command. His curveball was so unreliable that the Marlins took it away and asked him to focus on his slider, which he locates better. They also asked him to throw his straight changeup more frequently. As a result, he often pitched backward, a learning strategy that contributed to his ups and downs. He committed six errors in 27 starts and needs to field his position better. It's time for James to put everything together and apply the lessons he learned in 2011. Whether his fastball returns will determine if he can reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Rasmussen was the No. 3 starter on UCLA's College World Series runner-up team in 2010, pitching behind Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, the first and third picks in the 2011 draft. Rasmussen pitched just seven innings after signing and essentially made his pro debut in 2011, when he posted a 5.91 ERA in April and a 3.26 mark afterward. Rasmussen owns four solid-average pitches with a 90-93 mph fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. His fastball command was poor early in the season, when he worked up in the zone too frequently and wasn't able to get away with it like he did in college. He learned to keep his fastball down and move it all around the zone, and he also did a better job of pitching off his heater. Rasmussen's 84-87 mph slider is his best secondary pitch, though he still needs to improve the angle on it. He gets nice two-plane break on his upper-70s curve. He isn't afraid to work inside. Rasmussen will move up to Double-A Jacksonville in 2012 and may not need much more than another year in the minors. Some Marlins officials see his future as a situational lefty, but he'll continue to start for now.
Because he was better known as wide receiver/defensive back and had a baseball scholarship from Texas, Perio fell to the 39th round of the 2009 draft. The Marlins made a late push and signed him for $150,000, and he since has blossomed into their top middleinfield prospect. The wiry, athletic Perio makes good contact and keeps the barrel of his bat level and in the zone. While he doesn't strike out a lot, the Marlins would like him to be more selective, looking for pitches to drive and taking more walks. He quit hurrying his lower half and learned to trust his strong hands and wrists, finally tapping into his power and slugging .458 in the second half of 2011. He's an average runner with good instincts, but he won't be a prolific basestealer. Perio began his pro career as a shortstop, but his fringy arm predicated a move to second base, where he has good range but committed 24 errors in 114 games at Greensboro. He has the work ethic to become an average defender. Perio projects as an offensive-minded second baseman, a No. 2 hitter with good pop that will only get better as he fills out. He'll play in high Class A in 2012.
A two-way star in college, Cousins climbed through the system a level at a time. He earned a September callup in 2010 and made the Marlins' Opening Day roster last year, though he had a poor camp and benefited from an injury to DeWayne Wise. Cousins served as a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter, making his biggest headlines when he flattened Giants catcher Buster Posey on a play at the plate. Hip and ankle injuries nagged Cousins even before a bulging disk in his back ended his season in mid-June. He has solid tools across the board, projecting as a possible .280 hitter with 15-20 homers if he can work his way into the everyday lineup. One of the best athletes in the system, he has the speed to steal 20 bases and enough range to patrol all three outfield spots. His plus arm is strong enough for right field. Cousins' bugaboo throughout his ascent has been a lack of consistency, which was only exacerbated by a bench role. When he's cold, he tends to chase pitches out of the zone. He has the talent to make a bigger impact than he made in 2011, but he'll need better health and an opportunity.
Washington State's primary closer as a sophomore, Conley moved into the rotation last spring and impressed the Marlins enough that they popped him in the second round and inked him to a $625,000 bonus. His heavy, two-seam fastball operates at 89-91 mph with good life, and he also throws a 92-94 mph four-seamer that hit 97 mph when he worked out of the bullpen. His sinker has the makings of a plus pitch, as does his straight changeup, which he turns over and fades away from righthanders. He didn't use his slider much in his days as a reliever, so it lags behind his other pitches, often just rolling up to the plate and lacking any snap. Conley has a very quick arm and some deception to his delivery, using a lower arm slot and throwing across his body. Despite the funkiness, he has good command. His frame is wiry and he'll need to get in the weight room to add strength. If Conley can refine his slider, he has a chance to become a solid No. 3 or 4 starter. He may not open 2012 in high Class A, but he should get there by the end of the season.
The Marlins inked Urena in 2008 for what appears to be a bargain at $52,000. After spending two seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, the lean righthander made his U.S. debut last summer and ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the New York-Penn League. Urena has a nice, loose arm action and a projectable frame. He throws his fastball at 92-94 mph with good life, running it up to 96-97 at times. He'll flash a plus slider on occasion, but it lacks consistent depth and he doesn't get enough swings and misses with it yet. He has a good feel for his changeup, but it too has a ways to progress. Some nights he looks unhittable, and on others he gets caught up trying to overthrow and loses his command. In addition to the usual trials on the field, Urena is still dealing with a significant language barrier. He improved at holding runners and fielding his position last summer. He's a competitor who's not afraid to show a little animation on the hill. Urena should get his first taste of full-season ball this spring at Greensboro.
The top-rated North Carolina high school pitcher in the 2010 draft, Brice passed on an Appalachian State scholarship after the Marlins offered him $205,000 as a ninth-round pick. He made six relief appearances after signing but didn't see serious action until last summer. His 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings paced the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, but so did his 33 walks. Brice's plus fastball sits at 92-94 mph, reaching as high as 96. He has a natural feel to spin the ball and throws an above-average curveball in the low 80s with downer action. He's gaining a better feel for his changeup and it could blossom into at least an average offering. Despite his control issues last year, Brice isn't wild. He just hasn't learned how to harness all of his weapons yet, particularly the curve. His arm action is clean and he already has a nice delivery, though he's trying to get a little more compact with his lead arm. He maintains excellent poise on the hill, at times appearing almost stoic. Brice should make his full-season debut at Greensboro this year.
Primarily a corner outfielder at UC Irvine, where he wasn't an everyday player, Fisher has found a home at the hot corner since signing for $25,000 as a 15th-round pick in 2010. He played some third base at short-season Jamestown in his pro debut, when he led the New York-Penn League with 41 extra-base hits, and move there full-time in 2011, when he topped the system with 58 extra-base hits. Fisher's bat speed gives him solid power and he consistently hits the ball hard--when he hits it. His strikeouts result more from his bat not staying in the zone long enough than from chasing pitches outside of it, and he may always provide more power than average. Fisher struggles versus lefthanders, posting a .638 OPS against them last year compared to an .868 mark against righties. He's at his best when he focuses on driving the ball to left-center. Fisher's speed is a hair below average but he's quick enough to move back to the outfield if necessary. He has the tools to play third base, however, with good range and a solid arm. His feet are getting quicker, though he still has room yet to improve. He has a great work ethic, frequently arriving early for extra drills. Fisher will take his extra-base bat to high Class A in 2012, when he'll work on making better contact and solving southpaws.
Hatcher's defensive ability garnered him a September callup as a catcher in 2010, but his light bat led him to become a full-time pitcher in 2011. Despite having made just two previous emergency relief appearances as pro, he made the transition seem effortless and earned a return trip to Florida in mid-July. The arm strength that Hatcher showed behind the plate translates into a 93-95 mph fastball. He has a natural feel for throwing strikes, though there's room to refine his command, particularly down in the zone. He lacks consistency with his tight 84-87 mph slider, which could give him a second above-average pitch. When he gains enough confidence to throw his slider in fastball counts, he'll be able to keep hitters from sitting on his heater. His straight changeup is already usable and has a chance to become an average offering. He utilizes a compact delivery and quick arm action, displaying a confidence on the mound that belies his novice status. Hatcher will go to camp with a shot at winning a job in Miami's relief corps. He may need some time to further refine his secondary pitches, but his upside is as high as any reliever's in the system.
Originally signed by the Padres in 2004, Ceda went to the Cubs in a 2006 trade for Todd Walker and came to the Marlins in a 2008 deal for Kevin Gregg. After making his big league debut in September 2010, he took a step back last spring, showing up to camp overweight and getting held out of workouts. He recovered his mojo at New Orleans, where managers tabbed him the best relief prospect in the Pacific Coast League. Ceda's fastball touched 100 mph in the Cubs system and now sits at 95-96 mph, which is plenty. Command has been an issue in the past, but he was able to keep his fastball down in the zone much better as 2011, at least until he was called up. He also improved the location on his solid average slider. Ceda also will work in an occasional splitter, which has developed into a usable third pitch, particularly against lefties. Conditioning is always going to be a concern, and he missed all of 2009 following shoulder surgery. If he can command his pitches like he did in Triple-A last year, Ceda will win a big league bullpen job in spring training. His ceiling is that of a set-up man.
One of the best athletes in the system, Solorzano spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before making his U.S. debut in 2011. He's an aggressive hitter with gap power, and the ball jumps nicely off his bat. He has raw strength and could develop average to plus power in time. His plate discipline has room to improve, as he's too often tempted by pitches out of the zone, but he makes consistent contact. Solorzano's plus speed gives him basestealing ability and the range to cover center field from gap to gap. He shows good instincts on defense. Mix in a plus arm and he's capable of playing any of the outfield spots, though he'll continue to advance as a center fielder for the immediate future. Solorzano plays with energy to match his exciting package of tools. He'll compete for a spot on the Greensboro roster this spring.
Dayton exhibited pinpoint control as a starter at Auburn, where he relied mainly on his fastball and changeup. An 11th-round pick in 2010, he took off last spring after Greensboro pitching coach Willie Glen moved him from the third-base side of the rubber to the first-base side and worked with him to improve his slider. Including the playoffs, Dayton posted a 111-27 K-BB in 79 innings. He's aggressive with his fastball, which sits at 91-94 mph and reaches 96. He beats hitters with it, garnering swings and misses on fastballs in the strike zone. He has good depth on his 81-84 mph slider and has learned to drop it in on the back foot of righthanders. His changeup is serviceable but it's not as good as his other two offerings and he doesn't use it often. Scouts love the way the ball comes easy out of Dayton's hand. He projects as a set-up man more than a situational reliever, and some Marlins officials would like to see what he could do as a starter.
Brady hit just .254 as an infielder at California, but he caught the Marlins' eye with his arm strength, which was enough to get him drafted in the 24th round in 2009. Signed for $1,500, he went 3-for-35 in his pro debut before converting to the mound in 2010. He took to the switch immediately and has posted a 1.87 ERA and 106-15 K-BB ratio in two seasons. Brady is a natural strike-thrower with plus command, especially with a 90-93 mph fastball that he can locate with pinpoint precision. His fastball plays better than its velocity, because it takes a little hop at the end and hitters seem to have trouble picking it up. His 83-84 mph slider has a chance to be an above-average pitch, but his changeup is mostly just for show at this point. As expected given his background, Brady fields his position well. He exhibits an even-keel demeanor, never getting too high or too low. He projects as a quality middle reliever or set-up man and could move through the upper levels of the system quickly. He's a candidate to skip a level and open 2012 in Double-A.
As a college sophomore, Jensen set a St. Mary's record by hitting .421. In his third pro season last year, he won high Class A Florida State League MVP honors after putting on a power display despite a tough home park in Jupiter and virtually no protection in the lineup. Despite being promoted to Double-A with nearly a month remaining, he finished third in the FSL home run chase with 22. Jensen generates his power more with strength than bat speed, though he times pitches well enough to catch up with good fastballs. Scouts question whether he can do as much damage against better pitching, because his swing gets long and he struggles against quality breaking balls. He does use the entire field, an approach that gives him a chance to be an average hitter. He goes to the plate with an idea of what he's looking for and punishes mistakes. While he's a below-average runner and little threat to steal a bag, Jensen isn't a clogger on the bases. He has enough athleticism to do a passable job on the outfield corners, where his range has improved since he signed and he generally makes good reads. His arm is fringy, making him better suited for left field. Jensen likely will return to Jacksonville to begin 2012.
Ramos was Texas Tech's Friday-night starter until he tore an elbow ligament as a junior in 2008, requiring Tommy John surgery. He returned in time for the start of his senior season, reclaimed his spot at the front of the Red Raiders rotation and signed with the Marlins for $1,500 as a 21st-round pick. Immediately converted to a reliever after turning pro, he has fanned 12.6 batters per nine innings in three years in the minors. Ramos works mainly with a 91-94 mph fastball that touches 97 and a hard slider, and he'll also mix in an occasional changeup. He's a strike thrower but needs to improve his command within the zone. At 5-foot-10 he's on the short side, and at times he lacks plane on his fastball, which can flatten out. Ramos has tremendous strength in his legs, which helps him generate his velocity. He competes well, though at times can be too much of a perfectionist. After going to the Arizona Fall League in the offseason, he'll advance to Double-A and isn't far away from helping the big league club.
An offensive star in high school, Skipworth set a California prep record with hits in 18 straight at-bats before signing for $2.3 million as the sixth overall pick in 2008. His bat has never clicked in pro ball, though the Marlins were encouraged when he put up career-best numbers in 2010 and followed with a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League. That prompted the Marlins to jump him a level to Double-A last year, and the offensive gains he had made disappeared. Prone to expanding his strike zone both up and down, Skipworth seems to decide ahead of time that he's going to swing without analyzing the pitch. He has enticing lefthanded power but he doesn't keep his bat in the zone long enough to utilize it. Despite his struggles, he never has given in mentally and stayed focused last year on improving his defense. He has become more sophisticated at calling pitches and has learned to control the rhythm of the game. His receiving has gotten quieter and he blocks balls well. Though he threw out just 23 percent of basestealers in 2011, he has above-average arm strength and average feet. He's a below-average runner, typical of a catcher. Miami retains optimism that at 22 he still has time to put his offensive game together, but he has shown few signs of it. He'll repeat Double-A this season.
A two-time all-Pacific-10 Conference honoree at California, Canha led the conference with 69 RBIs in 54 games in 2010, enticing the Marlins with his power. They signed him for $300,000 in the seventh round that summer and made a few small adjustments with his swing, helping him reach inside pitches better. The changes helped him rank second in the South Atlantic League leaders with 25 homers last year despite missing four weeks early in the season with a back strain. He was helped by Greensboro's hospitable NewBridge Bank Park, where he batted .306/.427/.611 with 16 homers. Canha generates his power with a short stroke and can drive the ball to the opposite field with authority. He's also patient enough to take a walk if pitches won't challenge him. At times he has a tendency to overstride, and keeping his lower half in check will help him more consistently tap into his power. Canha's speed is below average, which may relegate him to first base, though he has played some left field as well. His range at first is average, but he still needs work around the bag. He has drawn comparisons to former Marlin Josh Willingham, another righty hitter with a similar build. Canha should reach Double-A at some point this year, perhaps even to start the season.
Overshadowed in high school by teammate Archie Bradley (the No. 7 overall pick by the Diamondbacks) and rival Dylan Bundy (No. 4 to the Orioles), Hope lasted until the Marlins took him in the fifth round in June. They signed him away from a scholarship to Oklahoma for $250,000. His father Pat, a standout pitcher at Oklahoma State, is enshrined in the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame. Mason has an advanced feel for pitching and pounds the zone with strikes. He gets a good downward angle on his fastball, which sits at 90-93 mph and touches 94. His biting 12-to-6 curveball grades as a plus-plus pitch at times, though it still lacks consistency. When it's on, he can throw it for strikes as well as get hitters to chase it out of the zone. His changeup is still developing but projects as an average pitch. Hope tends to get too deliberate in his delivery at times and could gain velocity if he can quicken it up. He's a fierce competitor. His performance this spring will dictate whether he jumps to low Class A or waits in extended spring training for Jamestown's season to open in June.
Acquired along with righthander Omar Poveda from the Rangers in a July 2010 deal for Jorge Cantu, Reed tore a ligament in his elbow in his first outing in the Marlins system. He spent most of last year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, returning to action in the Gulf Coast League in early July. By the end of the season the Marlins were seeing the electric arm they had traded for. A big, strapping horse, Reed has regained his fastball velocity. He's again pitching at 92-95 mph and touching 98. Before he got hurt, he had a hard slider with late tilt that peaked at 90 mph and was absolutely filthy at times. His slider hasn't come all of the way back, though it was getting closer by the end of the season. His control and command still need some fine-tuning, and that was true before his surgery. The Marlins sent Reed to the Arizona Fall League to make up some of his lost innings. A starter early in his pro career, he projects as a set-up man. He has a bullpen mentality all the way, aggressively attacking hitters with his power arsenal. He'll probably open 2012 in Double-A and it may not be long before he's ready to contribute in Miami.
Signed for $60,000 as a 31st-round pick in 2009, O'Gara took an unplanned route to the fast track after tossing five shutout innings in a fill-in start in high Class A in May 2010. After opening that year in extended spring training, he spent the rest of it at Jupiter and moved up to Double-A last spring. O'Gara struggled early with his sinker, at times looking like he was trying to force action on the ball instead of just letting it go. His results improved when he regained the pitch, which runs from 90-92 mph and induces grounders by the bushel. He'll also throw a four-seamer, mostly against lefthanders, and it can get up to 95 mph. His slider lacks consistent depth, often flattening out, which is a particular challenge given his lower arm slot. He has a better feel now for his changeup, which mimics the sinking action of his fastball, though at times he'll slow his body down when throwing it. An intelligent pitcher with a competitive makeup, O'Gara always been a hard worker. He's a candidate for a back-end-of-the-rotation job eventually, but he'll first need to iron out his secondary offerings, possibly back in Jacksonville to begin 2012.
Koehler had enjoyed nothing but success since signing for $1,000 as an 18th-rounder in 2008. He almost made things look too easy in 2010, when he tied for the minor league lead with 16 victories and was honored as the Southern League's top pitcher. He went 5-0, 2.92 in his first nine Triple-A starts last year, but then got away from working off his fastball and finally hit adversity. He posted a 7.56 ERA over his next 12 starts, as he relied too much on his secondary pitches and lost his ability to command the bottom half of the strike zone, before getting back on track in the final month. Koehler doesn't have a huge margin for error and has to set up hitters with his full repertoire and keep the ball down to succeed. He can throw his fastball at 90-94 mph, but it lacks life and gets pounded if he leaves it up in the zone. He also throws a high-80s cutter, a hard spike curveball and a changeup that's a potential plus pitch. He tended to nibble at the strike zone last year rather than attack hitters like he had in the past, and he's going to have to throw more strikes to make it as a back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever in the majors. His struggles may make him a better pitcher in the long run, though they cost him a chance to make his big league debut last year, when the Marlins went through 11 starting pitchers. Miami did protect him on its 40-man roster in November.
Mattison has gone from a $1,000 senior sign in 2008 to a place on Miami's 40-man roster after the 2011 season. The fastest man in the organization, he has averaged 43 stolen bases in his three full pro seasons. He hasn't been as dangerous at the plate, though he put everything together in the first two months of 2011, batting .338/.424/.512. Afterward, however, he hit just .209/.307/.334. He found the spark again in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .349, ranked among the league leaders in several categories and won the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Mattison is at his best when he keeps the ball on the ground and wreaks havoc with his plus-plus speed. To combat his habit of hitting the ball in the air, the Marlins moved him to a heavier bat last spring and drilled into him the virtue of taking a direct path to the top of the ball. They also encouraged him to bunt more frequently. He got in trouble when he reverted to a long, loopy swing that results in too many routine flyouts. Mattison isn't a proficient basestealer yet, making up for poor jumps and instincts with pure speed. He shows plus range in center field as well as an average arm. Mattison hustles constantly and profiles as a fourth outfielder who can fulfill a variety of roles off the bench. He'll get his first taste of Triple-A and possibly the majors in 2012.
Hodges hit 94 mph in high school but posed a challenge for scouts because he played in a remote northern Mississippi town and didn't face much in the way of competition. The Marlins invested a seventh- round pick and $125,000 in him, knowing he would take time to develop. He has yet to reach full-season ball after three years as a pro, but he turned the corner in 2011 while repeating Jamestown. While he has been clocked as high as 97 mph, Hodges now works mostly at 90-92 mph with his fastball, trading velocity for sink. He's learning he doesn't need to max out on every pitch to be successful. He doesn't yet have good feel for his hard slider, showing a preference for his changeup as his second offering. His delivery is still a little raw and he'll finish too straight up at times, but his arm action is clean and he shows decent command. He's quick to both first base and the plate, and opponents stole just two bases in seven tries against him last year. Hodges took a major step forward in controlling his emotions in 2011, not losing his cool as frequently when hits dropped in, though there were still occasional signs of frustration. He's also understanding better what being a professional athlete entails off the field. A potential No. 3 or 4 starter, Hodges is ready to graduate to full-season ball in Greensboro.
Rosario led minor league relievers with 125 strikeouts in 92 innings in 2010, spending most of the season in low Class A but finishing it in Florida. He again got a taste of the big leagues last fall, though his stat line wasn't nearly as gaudy as his previous campaign. Rosario fills the zone with 92-95 mph fastballs, reaching 97 at times, but his four-seamer is fairly straight. When he doesn't locate his heater where he wants to, it gets hit. He's working on a two-seamer that should have more life. Rosario's low-80s slider gives him a potentially solid No. 2 pitch, but he lacks a true offspeed offering to disrupt hitters' timing. Scouts have expressed concern with his long arm action, which interferes with his command and gives hitters a good look at his pitches. A closer in 2011, he profiles more as a seventh-inning arm in the majors. Rosario will contend for a big league job this spring but may need more time in Triple-A.
No relation to the Marlins vice president of player personnel of the same name, Jennings shot to Double-A in his first full season three years ago but has had trouble advancing beyond that level. A 50-game suspension in July 2010 for using a banned over-the-counter stimulant carried over to the start of last season. He had decent success in his third stint in Jacksonville before a mid-June promotion to New Orleans, where his command faltered and his results turned ugly. He had a 7.04 ERA and surrendered three homers in 30 innings after yielding just four in his previous 200. Nevertheless, Miami protected him on its 40-man roster after the season. Jennings gets by with a two-pitch arsenal, mixing a 90-94 mph fastball with a solid to plus slider. He disguises the slider well and is able to give it different looks for lefties and righties. He got in trouble last year when he didn't stay down through the ball in his delivery, which caused his fastball to flatten out. Jennings uses a low arm slot, which makes him tough for lefties to pick up, yet he was much more effective against righties in 2011. He went to the Arizona Fall League to continue working on his delivery and command, and he'll give Triple-A another try this season.
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