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Still one of the shallowest.
With a pair of potential big league regulars in Brian Anderson and James Nelson, third base is easily the deepest position in a thin farm system. The Marlins have an excellent big league outfield right now, but 2017 supplemental first-rounder Brian Miller could fit in it as well in a few years.
Derek Jeter and the Marlins’ new ownership will need patience because the system lacks impact prospects almost across the board. The team’s pitching depth is largely stuck in the low minors or injury rehab thanks to injuries to first-round prep arms Braxton Garrett (Tommy John surgery), Tyler Kolek (ditto) and Trevor Rogers (fatigue). Among the position players, very few project as future big league regulars.
Notable Graduations: Relievers Jarlin Garcia (6) and Drew Steckenrider (24) combined for 105 appearances.
Along-time member of the Cardinals' stable of 100 mph Latin American arms, Alcantara had a breakout season in 2016 but experienced more of an up-and-down year in 2017, when his untamed arsenal yielded more hits and fewer strikeouts than his raw stuff would indicate. Even then, the 6-foot-4 righthander, who originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $125,000 in 2013, earned a September callup and averaged 99 mph on his fastball in eight appearances as a reliever. Alcantara's big arm, tantalizing pure stuff and his proximity to the majors made him an intriguing, high-upside prospect for the Marlins to receive as the headliner in the return for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Alcantara packs big velocity but has yet to fully harness it. His fastball sits 96-97 mph as a starter, touches 100 and has been clocked as high as 102. It's a big pitch, but Alcantara's command and control are below-average, resulting in too many hittable fastballs over the plate or well off. His preferred pitch is an upper-90s sinker, but it's taken a backseat as he's focused on his four-seam fastball command. Alcantara complements his fastball with flashes of promising secondaries, but they have yet to become consistent. Both his curveball and slider tend to run together into an 83-88 mph power breaking ball, but he is learning to separate them, and they both project as average. His 90-92 mph changeup is wildly inconsistent and rarely used but flashes above-average potential. Ultimately, Alcantara has the raw stuff to one day become a front-of-the-rotation starter, headlined by a fastball that is capable of sitting in the upper 90s for entire starts. He will, however, have to improve his command if he wants to reach that potential. If not––or if Alcantara never truly hones his breaking ball or changeup––then there is a chance the hard-throwing righthander will be forced to the role of a late-inning reliever. Despite receiving a handful of innings with the Cardinals in 2016, Alcantara will likely start in his first season with the Marlins at Triple-A New Orleans in 2018. If all goes well, Alcantara could be in the Marlins' rotation by season's end and for many years to come.
The Astros signed Guzman out of the Dominican Republic in 2014 on the strength of his lightning-quick arm and projection for a massive fastball. He was then traded to the Yankees in December 2016 for Brian McCann before spending his 2017 season improving his walk rate at short-season Staten Island. The Marlins acquired Guzman in December 2017 as the headline prospect in the trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, allowing the Marlins' new ownership to clear $265 million of the $295 left on Stanton's 10-year contract. Just as the Astros hoped back in 2014, Guzman has developed a big-time fastball, exceeding even the highest of expectations. He averaged 99 mph with his four-seamer in 2017. To put that in perspective, Yankees righthander Luis Severino was the hardest throwing starter in the majors in 2017 with an average fastball velocity of 97.6 mph. Guzman paired his top-of-the-scale fastball--which has peaked at 103 mph--with a developing slider and a third-pitch changeup. Guzman's slider, which sits in the high-80s, can be inconsistent but has flashed above-average potential. His 90-93 mph changeup is seldom used but can show true fading action. Guzman has had trouble keeping his slider in the zone early in games before finding his feel later, but overall his walk rate of 2.4 per nine innings in 2017 suggests he has above-average control. Guzman led the New York-Penn League with 88 strikeouts in 66.2 innings in 2017 and is ready for low Class A Greensboro in 2018. He could become a future No. 2 or No. 3 starter, though some Marlins officials believe he has front-of-the-rotation potential.
One of the oldest prep players in the 2017 draft class, Rogers was a top performer during the 2016 summer showcase circuit before producing inconsistent results as a senior against inferior New Mexico competition. Selected as the 13th overall pick, he signed with the Marlins for $3.4 million. Rogers, who is the cousin of former Marlins outfielder Cody Ross, did not pitch as a professional, though he did partake in several bullpen sessions. The Marlins contend that Rogers is healthy and that he was simply suffering from a bit of fatigue after his senior season. He would have likely pitched in instructional league if not for Hurricane Irma canceling instructs altogether. Pitching from a lean, but projectable, 6-foot-6, 185-pound frame, Rogers uses a low three-quarters arm slot and can easily reach 95 mph with his fastball. Plus control allows his fastball, which routinely sits in the low 90s and has reportedly topped out at 97 mph in bullpens, to play up. A 10-to-4 slider gives Rogers a true above-average secondary offering, and though it can come across as sweepy at times, it has a chance to be an effective swing-and-miss pitch if he can find a bit more consistency. Rogers also flashes an average-or-better changeup with late fade, as well as a solid-average curveball that gives him a true four-pitch arsenal. As he gains experience, Rogers has the feel to develop plus command. Rogers will get his first taste of pro action at the age of 20, nearly 10 months after being drafted. If the Marlins follow the same path they did with 2016 first-rounder Braxton Garrett, then Rogers could start at low Class A Greensboro in 2018.
The highest-drafted prep pitcher out of Alabama since righthander Rick James in 1965, Garrett went seventh overall in 2016 and signed for an above-slot deal worth $4,195,900 before the Marlins held him out for the rest of the year in anticipation for his pro-ball debut in 2017. Garrett made four starts at low Class A Greensboro in 2017 before having Tommy John Surgery in June. When healthy, his best pitch is a true north-to-south curveball, which was considered one of the best offspeed offerings in the 2016 draft class and features a hard, tight break. He commands both his high-70s curveball and his low-90s fastball well, while his changeup is coming along as a third pitch with late fade. Advanced command should help each of Garrett's three offerings continue to play up. Garrett will miss the entire 2018 season as he rehabs from surgery, which puts him on track to return in 2019, his age-21 season. Still, he projects to have three above-average or better pitches with above-average command, meaning, if he can return fully healthy, there still is a lot to recommend him as a potential No. 2 or 3 starter in the future.
The Mariners' first selection in 2015, Neidert claimed California League pitcher of the year honors in 2017 after going 10-3, 2.76 at high Class A Modesto. The Marlins acquired Neidert, shortstop Chris Torres and righthander Robert Dugger after the 2017 season in the deal that sent Dee Gordon and international bonus pool money to Seattle. Nediert advanced to Double-A Arkansas as a 20-year-old in 2017. He was adjusting to the level when he took a comebacker off his right forearm in mid-August, and he finished the year on the disabled list with a deep bone bruise. Neidert's aggressive approach allows him to excel. He goes right at hitters, has advanced feel for his secondary pitches and shows good poise on the mound. He effectively sequences his three pitches and throws strikes. Neidert's fastball sits 90-93 mph but plays up with carry through the zone due to a late hop in his delivery. Both of his secondary offerings--an average low-80s slider and future plus changeup at 78-81 mph with deception and fade--play up because of how well he commands them. He repeats his high three-quarters delivery, keeping hitters off balance. Neidert has a high aptitude for his craft with the ability to quickly make adjustments. Some observers don't see a true out pitch in Nediert's arsenal, but he succeeds because of his competitive nature and advanced pitchabilty. He projects as a No. 4 starter and will likely return Double-A in 2018.
Anderson began to access his raw power more consistently in 2017, when he hit 22 home runs at Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans to earn a September callup. The Marlins like his solid righthanded swing and defensive versatility, though he has found a home at third base after playing first base, second base and outfield in the past. Working from a strong, 6-foot-3 frame, Anderson has a smooth, line-drive swing and is able to go gap-to-gap with solid power. Though he shows plus power to his pull side in batting practice, he is at his best when he's spraying line drives to the right-center field gap. Defensively, Anderson possess a plus arm at third base, where his range has improved. He is excellent at coming in on the ball and making bare-handed plays. On the basepaths, Anderson shows above-average speed and instincts, but will never be known as a basestealer. Anderson will turn 25 early in 2018 and will be looking to nail down the third base job out of spring training. Some observers believe he has the potential for 15-20 home runs.
A touted international signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Sierra slowly advanced before making the massive jump from high Class A straight to the majors in May 2017 when a rash of injuries left the Cardinals short of outfielders. He showed very well before returning to the minors at Double-A Springfield, and then rejoined the Cardinals in September. Sierra was then traded to the Marlins in December 2017, when he joined minor league righthanders Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen as headliners in the deal for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Sierra fits the mold of an old-school leadoff hitter. Lithe and athletic, he has a compact lefthanded swing and slaps the ball gap to gap. He excels playing small ball and using his plus-plus speed to beat out infield singles and put pressure on opposing defenses. His speed plays up even more with tight turns on the bases. Sierra is an aggressive hitter who doesn't walk much, but his improving pitch recognition has led to a reduction in strikeouts. He is adding strength but does not project to ever be a home run hitter. Center field is where Sierra shines defensively, with top-flight tracking ability, elite instincts, efficient routes and a plus, accurate arm. Sierra's athleticism, elite speed and center field defense provide a solid baseline for a big league career, generally in the vein of a player like Jarrod Dyson.
An 18th-round pick out of high school by the Red Sox in 2015, Nelson didn't sign and instead went to Cisco (Texas) JC for one season before signing with the Marlins as a 15th-round pick in 2016. Nelson is the nephew of 2004 first-round pick and ex-big leaguer Chris Nelson and spent the entire 2017 season at low Class A Greensboro. Nelson has tremendous bat speed and keeps his bat through the hitting zone, which has helped him hit an impressive 41 doubles in 145 career games. His approach at the plate is still evolving and needs maturing, but that is largely to be expected from a 19-year old in his first full season. His bat speed suggests above-average power, especially as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and those doubles should eventually turn into home runs. Nelson displays average or better speed but isn't a stolen base threat. A shortstop in high school, Nelson made a smooth move to third base and showcases the tools necessary to be an above-average defender there. He has good range and at least above-average arm strength, but has been error-prone with a .907 fielding percentage. Described as having an above-average baseball IQ, Nelson should continue his steady ascent at high Class A Jupiter. He profiles as an everyday third baseman in two or three years.
Signed by the Mariners in 2014 for $375,000, Torres started his pro career with promising seasons in the Dominican Summer League in 2015 and the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2016. An injury to Torres' non-throwing shoulder hampered him early in 2017, but he took off in the second half of the short-season Northwest League season with a .798 OPS. The Marlins acquired him after the 2017 season--along with Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger--for Dee Gordon. Torres has a strong, physical frame and impressive athleticism. He has a solid approach at the plate and posted an 11 percent walk rate at short-season Everett. While his numbers so far don't support it, he projects to be an average hitter because of his pure swing and how he well uses his hands. He considered giving up switch-hitting and batting lefthanded only, but just needs to trust his righthanded swing. Torre is a plus runner and projects to have fringe-average power as he grows, but his glove should carry him regardless. He has the potential to be a plus shortstop with a plus-plus arm, though he loses concentration at times and needs to learn better angles on his throws. Torres is a long way from the majors, but could be an everyday shortstop with 15 home runs if everything comes together. Low Class A Greensboro likely awaits in 2018.
Gallen served as North Carolina's Friday starter for two years in a rotation that included future first-rounder J.B. Bukauskas. A cutter he picked up as a sophomore helped Gallen blossom into that role, and the Cardinals drafted him in the third round in 2016 and signed him for $563,100. Gallen provided instant value, zooming up three levels in his first full season and finishing 2017 at Triple-A Memphis. After the 2017 season, Gallen was traded to the Marlins with Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra and Daniel Castano for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Gallen's stuff is average across the board, but all four of his pitches play up with superb control and deception out of his slight crossfire delivery. He mows through lineups by attacking the strike zone with all of his offerings and getting early-count grounders for quick outs. He pounds the bottom of the zone with his 89-93 mph fastball, backs it up with an 86-88 mph cutter that stays low and on the black, and mixes in an 82-85 mph changeup to keep hitters off balance. He also has a 77-79 mph curveball, but it can get loopy and hang on him at times. Gallen is athletic and repeats his delivery, fields his position well and has top-flight makeup. Gallen likely will start at Triple-A New Orleans in 2018 and fits as a potential back-end starter or swingman in the majors.
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