MLB 2020 Farm System Overview: Miami Marlins

While we wait for the 2020 MLB season to get underway, it’s time to take a closer look at players who could one day be on opening day rosters. For the next month or two, we’ll be examining each team’s farm system, which will contain several prospects that will either one day be contributors for them, or could be used to acquire impact major leaguers. 

Since we’ll be going in alphabetical order by city, our 15th farm system overview will be of the Miami Marlins. We’ll rank their top ten prospects, discuss some of their other notable minor leaguers, and then analyze the overall state of the farm system.

#1: RHP Sixto Sanchez

sixto
Photo Cred: MiLB.com

Age: 21

Height: 6’0″ Weight: 185 lbs

Signed: February 20th, 2015- PHI

Fastball: 67.5 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 60 Command: 55

Overall Grade: 58.625

At this point, the Marlins appear to have lost out on a chance of a lifetime in the 2017 offseason- they didn’t receive adequate returns for Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, or Marcell Ozuna. However, in the following offseason, they decided to trade their one remain MLB asset, JT Realmuto, to the Phillies in a rare in-division deal. This time, Miami may have gotten back a pillar for their future. As a Phillie, Sixto Sanchez dealt with some injuries, which made him expendable in their eyes- he’s undersized and has had a limited workload in the minors. That didn’t scare off the Marlins though, and in the end, I expect them to be rewarded for their faith. Sanchez’s fastball is utterly electric, as it reaches 100 MPH and can move in a variety of ways- it’s a ground ball inducing and bat-missing pitch. As for the rest of his arsenal, Sanchez pairs one of the best pitches of any pitching prospect with a power breaking ball and a filthy changeup, so undoubtedly, he has the insane three-pitch needed to thrive as a starting pitcher in the MLB. Yet, it doesn’t end there; he’s maintained extremely low walk rates at every level of the minor leagues. Sanchez’s lackluster strikeout rates and durability issues mean that he’s not a flawless prospect, but if healthy, he has all the tools to be a front-line starting pitcher. This will be  a critical season for him, as he’ll need to prove he can handle a larger workload before the team promotes him to the big leagues.

#2: OF JJ Bleday

bleday
Photo Cred: Titusville

Age: 22

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 205 lbs

Drafted: 4th Overall- 2019

Hit: 55 Power: 60 Field: 52.5 Arm: 60 Speed: 42.5

Overall Grade: 55.75

The Marlins could have gone a lot of different ways with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft. Based on their window, I pushed for them to look at a high-school prospect, such as Brett Baty or Matthew Allan. However, they opted for more of a safe pick, taking arguably the most polished hitting prospect in the draft outside of Andrew Vaughn in JJ Bleday. Bleday had a monstrous season with Vanderbilt in his junior year, raising his stock tremendously in the process, and now, he’ll likely be the face of the Marlins’ rebuild from the position player side. Whether it’s his pure hitting ability, his advanced approach, or his well-above-average power, there isn’t anything Bleday doesn’t provide offensively, so his floor is very high. Meanwhile, he has the chance to grow into an excellent right fielder with a very strong arm, even if his athletic profile isn’t great. Outside of speed, Bleday is an excellent four-tool player who has excellent makeup coming from a prestigious university. I expect him to move quickly through the farm system- he projects as Miami’s right fielder, and probably their best player, by sometime next season.

#3: OF Kameron Misner

misner
Photo Cred: Fish Stripes

Age: 22

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 219 lbs

Drafted: CBA (35th)- 2019

Hit: 45 Power: 65 Field: 55 Arm: 57.5 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 55.6

Heading into the 2019 draft, I actually ranked Kameron Misner as the better prospect to JJ Bleday, and even though I now have Bleday ranked ahead, I see the two prospects as equals. Therefore, the fact that the Marlins were able to draft Misner with their second pick in the draft is amazing- it ought to go down as the steal of the draft. Misner is a very different prospect than Bleday. During his time at Missouri, he never posted gaudy numbers, especially in SEC play. Yet, the 22-year-old’s upside cannot be ignored. Even though his contact ability isn’t there, he makes up for it by drawing plenty of walks, so he projects as a rare .220 hitter with an on-base percentage in the .370s. Meanwhile, as you’d expect for someone with his 6’4″ frame, his power from the left side is unbelievable, as if tapped into properly, he could hit 40 home runs a season. That’s not all though, as due to his superb athleticism, he’ll be able to play all three outfield spots at a very high level, which adds to his value. Misner is the epitome of the four-tool player, but even the one tool that lacks – his hit tool – isn’t even below-average when factoring his on-base skills. I see Misner as a future star, and he and Bleday should patrol the outfield for the Marlins for years to come.

#4: RHP Nick Neidert

neidert
Photo Cred: MiLB.com

Age: 23

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 202 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- SEA 2015

Fastball: 52.5 Breaking Ball: 50 Third Pitch: 60 Command: 57.5

Overall Grade: 55.375

Not every young pitcher will be able to have the overpowering pitching arsenal that someone like Sixto Sanchez has, but that’s okay- there are different ways to prevent runs that blowing away every hitter. For Nick Neidert, who was acquired in 2017 from the Mariners in the Dee Gordon trade, he relies on precision and his overall feel for pitching. Neidert struggled this season in limited action before having meniscus surgery, but his 2018 season in 152.2 innings at Double-A illustrates the type of pitcher he is. In that season, he posted an incredible 1.83 BB/9, while maintaining a satisfactory strikeout rate (9.08 K/9). His breaking balls aren’t strong, but his fastball velocity does play up due to late movement, and his changeup is devastating, so with that two-pitch mix, he has the repertoire needed to succeed in the MLB. Obviously, a pitcher of this prototype won’t ever be a true ace, but assuming health, Neidert is a very polished prospect with a very similar profile to Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. He’ll be a future middle of the rotation starter, and could make his debut as soon as this season.

#5: RHP Edward Cabrera

edward cabrera
Photo Cred: MiLB.com

Age: 21

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 175 lbs

Signed: July 2, 2015

Fastball: 65 Breaking Ball: 57.5 Third Pitch: 52.5 Command: 50

Overall Grade: 55.125

The Marlins have always lingered as a player in the international signing market, but for whatever reason, they’ve struggled to inject young, talented international prospects in recent years- Sanchez was acquired via trade. Yet, Edward Cabrera figures to change that narrative. His fastball command isn’t always consistent, but it can touch the triple digits in terms of velocity, and since that’s the case, his margin of error will be very high. Putting it together with a power curve and changeup, it’s not a surprise that his K/9 was in the double digits between High-A and Double-A last season, though it’s his command that surprised me- his walk rate hovered around 3.00, which is excellent considering his high strikeout rates. He’s still developing an overall feel for pitching, but it’s safe to say that Cabrera’s upside is off the charts, and this past season, he really took a major step forward in terms of his development. I’m hoping he can build onto that success this season, and if that’s the case, he’ll be one of the premier pitching prospects in the entire sport.

#6: OF Monte Harrison

monteharrison
Photo Cred: Fish Stripes

Age: 24

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 220 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- MIL 2014

Hit: 42.5 Power: 52.5 Field: 57.5 Arm: 70 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 53.975

Monte Harrison wasn’t the centerpiece of the Christian Yelich trade, but since Lewis Brinson has essentially turned out to be a bust at the major-league level, he’s the Marlins best chance of getting any sort of adequate return from that trade. The 24-year-old is coming off a somewhat disappointing season (97 wrc+) in which he was limited to 56 games after breaking his hand, but his traits are still impressive. With a tremendous combination of arm strength and athleticism, he’s a plus defensive outfielder at all three spots, while he should hit for decent power. However, since he struggles to get on-base at a consistent clip, and strikes out at a very high rate, I’m not sure about his offense, which is concerning given his age. He still has a pretty high ceiling, but heading into 2020, the time is now for Harrison’s tools to finally translate onto the playing field.

#7 LHP Braxton Garrett

braxtongarrett
Photo Cred: Greensboro News & Record

Age: 22

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 190 lbs

Drafted: 7th Overall- 2016

Fastball: 52.5 Breaking Ball: 60 Third Pitch: 55 Command: 52.5

Overall Grade: 53.875

If there was a worst-case scenario for a top-ten pick making his professional debut, Braxton Garrett’s introduction to professional baseball is right up there. He made just four starts in Single-A in 2017 before having to undergo Tommy John surgery, and thus was sideline for all of 2018 as well. However, he was able to pitch 105 innings in High-A this season, and lived up to his draft pedigree- he posted a 2.71 xFIP and 10.11 K/9. He’s still working on recapturing his fastball velocity, but both his power curveball and changeup are true bat-missing type of pitchers, and at the moment, his command also projects to be above-average. Additionally, if he’s pitching at such a high level without optimal fastball velocity, one can only imagine how much better he can once it comes back to him. He may go under the radar due to the injury, but he’s yet another high-floor, #2 or #3 starter that should progress quickly through the minor-leagues.

#8: OF Jesus Sanchez

jesussanchez
Photo Cred: Miami Herald

Age: 22

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 230 lbs

Signed: July 2, 2014- TB

Hit: 50 Power: 55 Field: 55 Arm: 57.5 Speed: 52.5

Overall Grade: 53.875

When you’re a rebuilding team, your bullpen should be used as a way to give opportunities to relievers who don’t have a spot with their current team, yet have the potential to blossom. That’s what the Marlins did last offseason, as they acquired Nick Anderson from the Twins, only to watch him emerge into a star before trading him, along with Trevor Richards, to the Rays for reliever Ryne Stanek and outfield prospect Jesus Sanchez. At the time, landing Sanchez, a player with massive power potential, for a reliever without much of a track record appeared to be heist. Alas, it’s not that simple, as the 22-year-old hasn’t really dominated in the minor leagues, especially with regards to his on-base percentage. Plus, since he hasn’t been able to lower his ground ball rates, I’m not sure he’ll ever be able to maximize on his power, which would make his offensive outlook a little murky. He’s a solid corner outfield with tons of potential, but Sanchez still needs much more development before I’m ready to call him “big-league ready”; he’s another player whom I’ll be closely monitoring in 2020.

#9: SS Jazz Chisholm

chisholm
Photo Cred: Fish Stripes

Age: 22

Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs

Signed: July 5, 2015- ARI

Hit: 50 Power: 55 Field: 55 Arm: 55 Speed: 55

Overall Grade: 53

The Marlins haven’t just made trades in which they’ve traded away major-league assets; at the 2019 trade deadline, they made a rare prospect for prospect trade, shipping young pitcher Zac Gallen to the Diamondbacks in exchange for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm. Since I first saw Chisholm play in an Arizona Fall League game, I’ve kept a close eye on him, as he’s a very exciting player. However, Arizona seeming was discourage by lack of development regarding his hit tool, and thus made the decision to trade him to a team that still believed in his upside. That team was the Marlins, and as long as they’re patient with the 22-year-old, they could be rewarded tremendously. Even though Chisholm is bound to post low batting averages and high strikeout rates, he walks at a decent clips, thus allowing him to have satisfactory on-base percentages. Meanwhile, he’s got a launch-angle oriented swing that helps him hit for plenty of power, and he’s got all the tools to be a strong defensive shortstop. It’s very easy to see why the Marlins are tantalized with Chisholm – shortstops with his power and athleticism don’t live on trees – but right now, the key for him is making enough contact to show-off his elite traits. I’m still guessing he ends up being on the better side as a “boom-or-bust” prospect, though it’s hard to be certain how the Bahamian shortstop’s career will pan out at the current moment.

#10: 1B Lewin Diaz

Miami Marlins v New York Mets
Photo Cred: Marlin Maniac

Age: 23

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 225 lbs

Signed: November 21st, 2013- MIN

Hit: 50 Power: 57.5 Field: 52.5 Arm: 50 Speed: 37.5

Overall Grade: 52.875

The Marlins were extremely active at the 2019 trade deadline, as not only did they add Sanchez and Chisholm, but they were also able to trade veteran reliever Sergio Romo for first base prospect Lewin Diaz. After an abysmal 2018 season, the 23-year-old Diaz was sort of an afterthought in the Twins farm system, but that changed in 2019. He transformed into a monster at the plate with both Minnesota and Miami, as he finally tapped into his raw power, and to his credit, he also improved him approach drastically this season. I’d like to see him continue to see his walk rates go up in the future, but suddenly, Diaz may be the Marlins’ first basemen of the future. That’s quite the return for a rental veteran reliever, and I’m expecting he makes his major-league debut this upcoming season.

Best of the Rest

  • Connor Scott was a first-round pick in 2018, but his offensive production so far has  been extremely underwhelming, so his defense may carry his value as a fourth outfield type; he still has the upside to be an everyday player, however.
  • Jordan Holloway figures to be a reliever in the future, but I love his high 90s rising fastball and strong breaking ball, though his command remains an issue.
  • Nasim Nunez was an intriguing prospect drafted in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft, and is one of the best defensive infielders in the minors with the ability to play both the infield and outfield.
  • Jose Devers is very similar to Nunez, albeit with a better hit tool and worse defense. He only weighs 155 pounds and has zero power, but he doesn’t strikeout much, and is an excellent defender at shortstop.
  • Jorge Guzman, with a fastball that can reach 103 MPH, was the centerpiece of the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Yankees, but as his command continues to regress, it doesn’t appear he’ll hold up as a starter; he’s really struggled since being traded to Miami.

Farm System Overview

At the moment, the Marlins have the #1 ranked farm system, based on my grades. Not only have they added six of their top-ten prospects via recent trades, but they also dominated the 2019 MLB draft by landing Bleday, Misner, and Nunez, and have some other past investments starting to pay dividends. I’m a huge fan of their pitching, which is constructed nicely between high upside and high floor players, though I’m a little bit more concerned about the volatility of their position player prospects- all are boom-or-bust types, and should enough of them bust, their future could be slightly compromised. Therefore, having the game’s farm system at the moment isn’t enough for me to see them as a future powerhouse, though should enough of these prospects develop, they’ll be set up tremendously to be one of the top teams in the National League.

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