Top Ten Prospects: Florida Marlins
Complete Index of Top 10s
By Mike Berardino
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2005.
Opportunities weren't as plentiful in 2004 for those in the minors, and the falloff was such that the south Florida baseball writers chose not to name a Marlins rookie of the year at the big league level. A number of six-year free agents were brought to the majors, including Josias Manzanillo, Aaron Small and Larry Sutton, but none of them made an impact.
When a spate of doubleheaders and an injury to A.J. Burnett left Florida looking for a starter in the middle of September's wild-card push, the assignment fell by default to righthander Logan Kensing—who was promoted from high Class A. Though he has a solid future, Kensing went 0-3, 12.65 in three fill-in starts with the season on the line.
On the positive side, the Marlins didn't have to raid their system as much as they had the year before. They did ship off slick-fielding shortstop Wilson Valdez to get setup man Billy Koch from the White Sox in June, a deal they might like to have back. At the July trading deadline, they put lefthander Bill Murphy, their only Futures Game representative, in a six-player blockbuster with the Dodgers that brought Guillermo Mota, Paul LoDuca and Juan Encarnacion back east. They also parted with low Class A swingman Travis Chick to get Ismael Valdez from the Padres, and Chick promptly saw his velocity and effectiveness jump.
Florida's minor league teams finished a combined 63 games under .500, and only Double-A Carolina among the top five affiliates finished with a winning record. That's evidence that the system isn't nearly as strong as it was when BA rated it among the game's 10 best entering each year from 1999-2003. But the Marlins would willingly pay that price again if it meant another championship.
They did restock their system via the 2004 draft. Second-year scouting director Stan Meek took college lefthanders with his first two picks, and Taylor Tankersley and Jason Vargas immediately surged onto our Marlins Top 10 Prospects list. They could move quickly through the system.
Florida grabbed a pair of athletic high school outfielders in rounds three and four, and both Greg Burns and Jamar Walton showed considerable potential in Rookie ball. Fifth-rounder Brad Davis, who caught Vargas at Long Beach State, also showed fine all-around skills.
As the Marlins try to rejuvenate their system, they appointed Brian Chattin to oversee it. Chattin was promoted to farm director in December after serving as an assistant to his predecessor, Marc DelPiano. DelPiano now works with Fred Ferreira in the club's international operations department.
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