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TRACK RECORD: The son of Victor Mesa, who was one of the top Cuban baseball players of the 1980s and ’90s, Victor Victor Mesa was the No. 1 international free agent in 2018. The Marlins signed him and his 17-year-old brother Victor Mesa Jr. in October. Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million, which was the largest bonus in the 2018-19 international free agent class. The 22-year-old outfielder has been playing in Cuba’s top professional league, Serie Nacional, since he was 16. While playing against much older competition, Mesa produced a .275/.334/.378 slash line with 10 home runs and 74 stolen bases in more than 300 career games, and he also went 3-for-7 with a pair of doubles in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. After leaving Cuba in May to train and establish residency in the Dominican Republic, the Mesa brothers were declared free agents by Major League Baseball in September before signing with the Marlins one month later.
SCOUTING REPORT: A premium athlete, Mesa is already considered a plus defender in center field, with some scouts grading both his arm and his speed as 70 tools. Mesa uses his speed well in the outfield, with a quick first step and strong route-running ability helping extend his range, while his arm routinely prevents baserunners from taking an extra base. Offensively, Mesa profiles best as a top-of-the-order hitter, most likely settling in as a No. 2 hitter. As a 20-year-old in Cuba, he hit .354/.399/.539 with seven home runs and 40 stolen bases, showcasing a potential plus hit tool. Mesa has shown quick bat speed, above-average barrel control and a solid approach at the plate in the past. With an inside-out swing, Mesa’s power is probably no more than fringe-average, but some believers think he could grow into above-average power as he continues to mature. Mesa has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, and a desire to work with U.S. medical staffs and use major league facilities to stay healthy helped convince him to leave Cuba.
THE FUTURE: Mesa has a chance to be a cornerstone of the Marlins’ ongoing rebuild thanks to his plus glove and ability to hit for average and steal bases near the top of the lineup. He will probably open 2019 at high Class A Jupiter, where he would be in close proximity to Victor Jr., who will likely begin at extended spring training. If Mesa’s transition goes smoothly, he could make his major league debut by the end of 2020.
TRACK RECORD: The top prospect the Marlins received by trading Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, Alcantara had a solid first season with his new club. The righthander got his first taste of Triple-A in 2018 before making six starts for Miami.
SCOUTING REPORT: Alcantara is armed with a plus-plus fastball, which previously topped out at 102 mph. In 2018, he threw more 92-95 mph two-seam fastballs, though he is still capable of using his upper-90s four-seamer when needed. Alcantara’s issue is getting his fastball over the plate for strike one, and his fringe-average control has hampered his development. All three of his secondary offerings have above-average to plus potential, though Alcantara relied more heavily on his mid-to-upper 80s slider against righthanders, while backing off using his low-80s curveball as much. His upper-80s changeup provides another potential swing-and-miss pitch, most notably against lefthanders.
THE FUTURE: Alcantara has the pure stuff of a frontline starter, but his control will decide his fate. After ending 2018 in the Marlins’ rotation, the 23-year-old should compete for a spot in the Opening Day rotation in 2019.
TRACK RECORD: Harrison was acquired by the Marlins, along with three other Brewers prospects, for eventual National League MVP Christian Yelich in January. Harrison took a step back while getting his first taste of Double-A in 2018, though he continued showing off the power-speed combination that makes him such an enticing prospect.
SCOUTING REPORT: Perhaps the best pure athlete in the Marlins’ system, Harrison has excellent bat speed and plus raw power. When he makes contact, he consistently hits the ball as hard as any Marlins prospect. Harrison has recently toned down the high leg kick he previously used and replaced it with a simpler toe tap he uses as a timing mechanism. With fewer moving parts in his swing, Harrison is aiming to cut down his strikeout rate (37 percent in Double-A) without sacrificing too much power. Defensively, Harrison has the range to play an average center field, though his plus arm strength would also play in right field.
THE FUTURE: Harrison may possess the highest upside of any position player in the Marlins’ system, and he’ll continue to work on making more consistent contact at Triple-A New Orleans in 2019.
TRACK RECORD: The Mariners’ top draft pick in 2015, Neidert was one of three prospects traded to the Marlins in December 2017 for Dee Gordon and international bonus pool money. After being honored as the California League pitcher of the year in 2017, Neidert was even better as a 21-year-old in Double-A and was named the Marlins’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Neidert isn’t overpowering, though his fastball regularly sits between 91-93 mph. He locates his fastball well to both sides of the plate and uses a plus changeup to prohibit hitters from sitting on his fastball. Neidert’s low-80s breaking ball doesn’t grade out much better than average, but he isn’t afraid to throw it in any count. All three of Neidert’s pitches play up because of his plus control and ability to keep hitters off-balance.
THE FUTURE: Neidert may not have the upside to match other pitching prospects in the Marlins’ system, such as Sandy Alcantara, Jorge Guzman or Edward Cabrera, but he is the safest bet to maximize his potential. Neidert will begin 2019 in Triple-A New Orleans, with a late-season callup to Miami possible, if not likely.
TRACK RECORD: Drafted 13th overall in 2018, Scott signed with the Marlins for just north of $4 million, the largest draft bonus the organization has ever given a position player. Scott attended Tampa’s Plant High, the same school as Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, with whom Scott is often compared.
SCOUTING REPORT: Though he has an unusual gait, Scott is at least a plus runner, which helps him on the bases and in the outfield. He played exclusively center field in his pro debut, where he showed acceptable range, but he could move to a corner as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-4 frame. Scott has plus arm strength and he routinely threw in the low 90s as a high school pitcher. The 19-year-old fills out his five-tool potential with power that could develop as plus and solid feel to hit. His bat clearly—and expectedly—lagged behind his defense when the Marlins aggressively pushed him to low Class A Greensboro.
THE FUTURE: The Marlins sent Scott to the South Atlantic League with the intent of preparing him for that same level in 2019. With the Marlins moving affiliates from Greensboro, N.C., to Clinton, Iowa, Scott should expect to play a full season in the Midwest League.
TRACK RECORD: After signing with the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Guzman was traded to the Yankees in November 2016 as part of the Brian McCann deal. Less than 13 months later, he was one of three players traded to the Marlins for 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
SCOUTING REPORT: Guzman is one of the hardest-throwing starters in the minors, with his elite fastball consistently sitting in the upper 90s with a peak of 103 mph. His control took a step back in 2018, however, with his walk rate going from 2.4 per nine innings in 2017 to 6.0 per nine in 2018. Guzman’s changeup shows plus potential, but he needs to continue refining his slider to become an above-average offering. Improved control and continued development of his slider will go a long way for Guzman. He’s hard to square up, but there are scouts who believe his future is in the bullpen.
THE FUTURE: Guzman challenges fellow righthander Sandy Alcantara for best pure stuff in the Marlins’ system, and if everything clicks he could become a future front-line starter. He will likely begin 2019 with Double-A Jacksonville, where improving his control and reducing his walk rate will prove vital.
TRACK RECORD: Cabrera signed for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, which is so far proving to be a steal for the Marlins. After spending time in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2016 and pitching at short-season Batavia in 2017, Cabrera got his first taste of full-season ball in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2018.
SCOUTING REPORT: Cabrera is similar to fellow Marlins righthanders Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman in that he showcases a high-velocity fastball that has cleared the 100 mph mark. Standing at a lean 6-foot-4, Cabrera’s plus fastball most regularly sits in the mid-90s as a starter with good, late life in the zone. He has a potential plus breaking ball and is working on a changeup that flashes plus at times but remains inconsistent. Like Guzman, Cabrera still needs to work on controlling his high-powered arsenal. His walk rate increased to roughly 3.8 walks per nine innings in 2018.
THE FUTURE: After spending the entirety of his age-20 season in low Class A, Cabrera will move to high Class A Jupiter in 2019. His ceiling is no lower than that of a mid-rotation starter, though he, like Guzman, could conceivably end up as a power reliever.
TRACK RECORD:Yet another trade acquisition by the Marlins, Diaz joined outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison in the deal that sent Christian Yelich to the Brewers. Diaz was drafted by the D-backs in 2014 before being traded to the Brewers in a five-player deal that sent Jean Segura to Arizona in 2016.
SCOUTING REPORT: Diaz has the profile of an offensive second baseman, with plus raw power that he continues to tap into in games. He has hit at least 13 home runs in each of the last four seasons, with one evaluator theorizing that he could have a Rougned Odor-type impact in the majors. Diaz is at least an average hitter with a willingness to hit the ball the other way, and his strikeout (26 percent) and walk rates (13 percent) have remained relatively consistent. Diaz is a potential plus second baseman who has worked to improve his footwork around the bag. He is a good athlete with above-average speed, and he stole a career-high 14 bases in 2018 while at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
THE FUTURE: Diaz will likely return to New Orleans to start 2019 but could take over Miami’s everyday second base role by the end of the season.
TRACK RECORD: The 69th overall pick in 2018, Banfield signed with the Marlins for $1.8 million, well above the slot value of $894,600 and the club’s second-largest draft bonus in 2018. A Vanderbilt commit, Banfield was widely considered the draft’s best prep defensive catcher.
SCOUTING REPORT: It all starts with defense with Banfield, who has the potential to be a plus defensive catcher and already possesses a plus arm. He is nimble behind the plate, with the lateral quickness and soft hands needed to become an above-average receiver. Banfield has plus raw power and hit three home runs in 48 at-bats as an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League. Like many highly drafted preps, Banfield’s bat will decide his future. He has shown above-average bat speed, helping him tap into his pull-side power, but there were some swing-and-miss concerns with Banfield going into the draft that he will have to answer.
THE FUTURE: Like first-rounder Connor Scott, Banfield was aggressively pushed to low Class A Greensboro for the final month of 2018 to prepare him for that level in 2019. He will likely spend most, if not all, of 2019 with newly affiliated Clinton of the Midwest League.
TRACK RECORD: The cousin of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, Jose signed with the Yankees out of the Dominican Republic for $250,000 in 2016. He was then traded to the Marlins in December 2017, along with two others, for Giancarlo Stanton.
SCOUTING REPORT: A slightly built, glove-first shortstop, Devers is a much different prospect than his cousin. Lauded for his instincts, he stands out for his athleticism, footwork and soft hands at shortstop, all of which allow his average arm to play up from the left side of the infield. Devers’ glove is clearly ahead of his lefthanded bat, but he has a contact-oriented swing and plus speed that allowed him to hold his own against older competition at two Class A stops despite his current lack of strength. Devers’ power will likely never be more than fringy, but his plus defense and feel to hit should carry him up the ranks.
THE FUTURE: Devers played the majority of his age-18 season in the South Atlantic League, though he received a promotion to high Class A Jupiter in August. He played in just two games in the Florida State League because of a minor injury, but he’s fully healthy now and should spend most of 2019 with the Hammerheads.
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