Marlins 2017 Spring Training Outlook

The pop of the mitt and the crack of the bat are two sounds that have to be heard in person. These are the early sounds of spring training! Yes, it is finally here, the greatest time of year were every team is hopeful and everyone is getting a plan together. Here are a couple of things that the Marlins have going on that I would suggest keeping a watchful eye on.

  • Gordon and Stanton – if the Marlins offense is going to be successful they will need Gordon and Stanton to produce at the level they are being paid. Stanton just needs to get through the year without taking a trip to the DL and Gordon needs to get his past issues behind him and set the table for the rest of the offense. If Stanton and Gordon are right that will take the pressure of Realmuto, Yelich, Ozuna, and Bour. Bour may find himself in a platoon situation which may limit his AB’s but he doesn’t handle left handing pitching well anyway.
  • The Rotation– the Marlins lack a true ace on this team. Who will tote that title this year? Anyone? The contestants for starting pitcher of the Miami Marlins are:a. Chen
    b. Volquez
    c. Conley
    d. Koehler
    e. Straily
    f. Locke
    g. Urena
    h. Nicolino
    i. DespaigneThis sure isn’t a who’s who of elite starting pitching but they do have strength in numbers.

    Chen will lead the way and had a quality year last year. He would be my best guess for opening day starter if everything stays the same.

    Volquez signed this offseason for two years to the tune of $22M. He will eat up some innings for the next couple of years to give the young prospects time to develop but I would be cautious signing him up for your fantasy team.

    Conley had a disappointing year last year but he showed enough to be a back of the rotation starter and if he could improve his control could move up to a legit 3rd starter.

    Koehler was less than spectacular last year but he will be given the chance to claim a rotation spot but it may be more challenging for him to keep that spot all year.

    Locke will compete for a rotation spot but his destiny for the Marlins is middle relief.

    Urena is the wild card of the group. He is young, only 25, and he has proven to be effective in the minors. In 750 IP in the minors he has a 1.22 WHIP, if he can translate that to this level he could be a solid back of the rotation starter.

    Nicolino started the year of in the rotation last year but ended up needing a tune-up in the minors before being recalled to man the bullpen. He will get a shot at starting but best guess is he ends up in the pen or the minors.

    Despaigne is at the end of his chances. He has to prove he can handle big league hitters or he will not break camp with the team.

    Straily is the one pitcher in this list who could emerge as the ACE of the staff by seasons end. He needs to have a good spring but he should open the year as the 3rd starter on the team. Last year he pitched to the tune of a 1.19 WHIP and he logged over 190 innings. On other teams he would be a solid middle of the rotation guy but the reason the Marlins moved 3 prospects was to take the chance on him continuing to regain form from his Oakland days and lead the rotation.

Below is my updated top 50 for the Miami Marlins minor league organization. I am looking forward to your comments. I welcome any feedback and suggestions and my take is more from a fantasy baseball perspective. I am leaving traded players in my list and just adding new players to the bottom.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster

Tier 1
None at this time

Tier 2

1. Braxton Garrett, P
Age: 19 (DOB: 8/5/1997)
The Miami Marlins first round pick in the 2016. He has 3 pitches in his current portfolio and his fastball sits around 88-93 MPH. His changeup needs a little work but at 19 years old he will have a couple of years to polish it up. He has a curveball that has been described as NASTY (in a good way). Garrett is tall, left-handed, athletic, and he has a repeatable delivery, 3/ arm slot, and excellent command leading many scouts to project him as a top of the rotation starter. He will needs some time in the minors but keep him on your radar he could move to the tier once category quickly.

Tier 3

2. Brian Anderson, 3B
Age: 23 (DOB 5/19/1993)
Anderson’s power is developing. He has a good bating eye leading to a good OBP. With a good showing in double A he should make an appearance in September. I project him to have similar numbers to the man currently manning the hot corner.

3. Luis Castillo, P | TRADED TO Reds
Age: 24 (DOB 12/12/1992)
Castillo has good fastball and his fastball sits in the high 90’s. He has a high ground ball rate and his slider is a great second offering. Not a lot of swing and miss stuff to his game but if he can keep the other team of balance then he could find success in the majors. He ended up in double A last year that’s where he should be heading to start the season.

4. Jarlin Garcia, P
Age: 24 (DOB 1/18/1993)
Garcia is a southpaw that tosses his fastball in the low to mid 90’s. He has a respectable slider and shows solid command of all his pitches. Look for him to repeat double A and a move to the bullpen could be in his future depending on how he progresses.

5. Tyler Kolek, P
Age: 21 (DOB 12/15/1995)
Kolek the first round pick in 2014 spent 2016 recovering from TJ surgery. Kolek has a huge arm hitting the triple digits but he needed better control of his secondary offerings. In his first full year he lacked in strike out rate and his WHIP was 1.56. Scouts say he could be a #2 starter, I say let’s see how his recovery goes and reevaluate.

6. Thomas Jones, OF
Age: 19 (DOB 12/9/1997)
Jones showed good OBP in his brief 64 AB first season. The 2016 third round pick did notch 6 SB. He has the feel of a typical leadoff hitter as long as he can get on base and keep the caught stealing down. Look for him in A ball this year.

7. Austin Dean, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 10/14/1993)
Dean turned some doubles into homers from 15 to 16 but at the cost of OBP, lost stolen bases from 2015, if power can develop and strikeouts drop could be everyday LF. Should start the year in double A and could reach the bigs in September with a strong showing.

8. Stone Garrett, OF
Age: 21 (11/22/1995)
Garret saw his OBP drop in 2016, his power numbers dipped, and his strikeouts increase. This is a real pivotal year for his status as a prospect. He should start in A ball and he will have to prove that he can rebound from last year’s poor showing.

9. Austin Brice, P | TRADED TO Reds
Age 24 (DOB 6/19/1992)
Brice has strikeout per inning stuff as a RP in 15 game taste year, competing for spot in ST and could be set up man by mid-season, unless they send down to work on being a starter.

10. Cody Poteet, P
Age 22 (DOB 7/30/1994)
Poteet has close to strike out per inning stuff , 1.30 whip in 24 starts, has a deep arsenal and projects as a 4th or 5th starter. Should start the year out in A ball but if he can cut down on walks his prospect status could increase.

11. Tomas Telis, C
Age 25 (DOB 6/18/1991)
Realmuto’s back up, minor league career .331 OBP good contact hitter lacks power, good glove former SS. If given an everyday job could more then hold his own with the glove and would not be a liability with the stick.

12. Dillon Peters, P
Age 24 (8/31/1992)
Peters has good control of the zone, 1.08 whip in 2015, craft pitcher if he can harness his stuff could be a 3 or 4 starter in the bigs but time will tell his future.

13. Isael Soto, OF
Age 20 (DOB 11/2/1996)
Soto improved his walks but more improvement needed, average is low needs to cut down on SO, plus raw power that could develop when matures. High ceiling if he can fix some flaws.

14. Jeff Brigham, P
Age 24 (DOB 2/16/1992)
Brigham has a high whip 1.41 career, 112 so to 47 bb but should improve the further away from TJ he gets. Predicting to be a 4th or 5th starter.

15. Brett Lilek, P
Age 23 (DOB 8/23/1993)
If Lilek can get over the injury issues he could be a diamond in the rough, big year for him this year to see if he will remain as a starter or move to the pen, has the stuff needed to be a productive SP 3-5th starter potential ceiling, floor left specialist.

Tier 4

16. Avery Romero, 3B
Age 23 (DOB 5/11/1993)
Romero reached Double A in 2016 but still not improving in OBP, needs big year or may be utility player in the bigs.

17. Corey Bird, OF
Age 21 (DOB 8/11/1995)
Bird had 16 Sb in 219 at bats. Needs to improve OBP and average but didn’t show much power with zero home runs and only 6 doubles. Could develop into a typical leadoff hitter.

18. Sean Reynolds, OF
Age 18 (DOB 4/19/1998)
Reynolds has big time power potential capable of tape measure home runs, needs to shorten his swing but talent is present, may convert to pitcher if can’t get swing. Beware he did have 64 strikeouts in 148 at bats.

19. Drew Steckenrider, P
Age 26 (DOB 1/10/1991)
Steckenrider should battle for bullpen spot in ST, in 2016 had 71 SO to 19 walks .85 whip, struggled a little in AAA but has look of a MLB closer but could pitch this year as set-up man later in the season.

20. Justin Jacome, P
Age 23 (DOB 10/19/1993)
Jacome has a high whip 1.41 career. He had 47 strikeouts to 36 BB in 2016. He will be headed back to Single A to lower his walks and increase his strikeouts.

21. Jordan Holloway, P
Age 20 (DOB 6/13/1996)
Holloway had a high whip 1.67 in 48IP starter but also had 41 strikeouts, still developing his pitching motion and should adjust this year

22. Roy Morales, C
Age21 (DOB 6/25/1995)
Morales showed good OBP skills. The power should come with further development. Catchers generally take a little longer because of the defensive requirements.

23. Jake Esch, P
Age 26 (DOB 3/27/1990)
Esch got the call in 16, 3 games started, 13 IP, 10 strikeouts, 6 BB with a 1.77 whip. He has a career WHIP of 1.32 in MILB. He will be competing in ST and may end up in the pen or back in Triple A for further development.

24. John Norwood, OF
Age 24 (DOB 9/24/1992)
Norwood improved OBP but power went down, still 20+ doubles power should come back, Strikeouts are high, will need to limit those but could be 20/20 guy (high ceiling) or 4th our 5th OF.

25. Raudel Lazo, P
Age 27 (DOB 4/12/1989)
Lazo has a career 1.11 whip as RP in minors performed well in 2015 when called up, could battle for bullpen spot in ST.

26. Tayron Guerrero, P
Age 26 (DOB 1/9/1991)
Guerrero working as a RP averaging a strikeout per IP in minor league career, has 2 innings to his credit as a RP in the show, could battle for rp spot in ST

27. Isaiah White, OF | TRADED TO Reds
Age 20 (DOB 1/7/1997)
OBP declined, SB declined, AVG declined, strikeouts increased but still young and has tools to rebound and raise his prospect status.

28. Yefri Perez, OF
Age 25 (DOB 2/24/1991)
Perez has sb ability, 197 SB in minors, will compete in ST for backup OF spot.

29. Garvis Lara, SS
Age 20 (5/19/1996)
2016 was real cruel year for Lara. Let’s see what this year has in store, scouts believe he could be an everyday SS but health may be the key.

30. Edward Cabrera, P
Age 18 (4/13/1998)
Really young, still tossed to a 1.36 whip in first pro-ball action. I would like to see more than 28 strikeouts and lower ERA (4.21) in 47 IP.

31. Jhonny Santos, OF
Age 20 (DOB 10/2/1996)
Santos’s OBP regressed in 2016, no power and SB declined but he is still young and has time to turn it around.

32. Justin Cohen, DH
Age 20 (DOB 9/26/1996)
Cohen has good OBP but still a small sample size. Look for a full year of AB to see development if he is afforded the AB’s from the club.

33. Justin Twine, 2B
Age 21 (DOB 10/7/1995)
Twin showed slight improvement in OBP, may have a little pop for MI, decent speed, must cut down on SO and continue to improve OBP to become relevant in the prospect world.

34. James Nelson, 3B
Age 19 (DOB 10/18/1997)
Nelson had solid start .344 OBP with 10 doubles and 7 steals in 162 AB.

35. Aaron Knapp, OF
Age 22 (DOB 11/4/1994)
Knapp had a .339 OBP in 1st year of pro-ball with 19 SB but caught 7 times. Strikeouts are a little alarming but another solid year will move him up this list.

36. Jarett Rindfleisch, C
Age 21 (DOB 9/4/1995)
Rindlefleisch showed some great plate discipline with a .371 OBP in first taste of pro-ball. Power should develop but definitely worth keeping tabs on in 2017.

37. Luis Pintor, 2B
Age 21 (DOB 6/6/1995)
In his first taste of action Pintor put together solid OBP (.344) and showed some decent speed with 7 SB in 109 at bats.

38. J.J. Gould, 3B
Age 23 (DOB 8/22/1993)
Gould showed some power with 9 Hr and 15 doubles in 238 ab. Average and OBP need improvement to get to the next level.

39. Walker Olis, OF
Age 22 (DOB 5/4/1994)
Olis had 18 stolen bases in 199 at bats. He also showed his batting eye with a .345 OBP. He should start out in A ball again and if he can improve his average should be moving up the prospect list.

40. Parker Bugg, P
Age 22 (DOB 10/26/1994)
Used as RP and in first year had a great whip (.91) and also went 4 for 4 in saves.

41. Preston Guillory, P
Age 23 (8/16/1993)
Averaged about a strikeout per inning, and had a stellar whip in rookie ball but in A ball that whip jumped. Guillory did go 3 for 3 in save opportunities.

Tier 5

42. Colby Lusignan, 1B
Age 24 (DOB 11/15/1992)
Lusignan had great rookie ball numbers but awful in A short. If he replicates that .422 OBP in A ball this year and adds some pop he will make the elite prospect status.

43. Branden Berry, DH
Age 23 (DOB 5/19/1993)
Started off strong but the move to A(short) slowed him down. If he can replicate his .402 and add some power numbers he will be on the move through the organization.

44. Trenton Hill, P
Age 22 (DOB 3/10/1994)
Hill’s first taste of proball was solid averaging close to a strike out per inning, but mainly used in relief.

45. Sam Perez, P
Age 22 (DOB 8/17/1994)
Perez had a good showing in first taste of pro ball low whip 1.16 started half of the games.

46. J.T. Riddle, SS
Age 25 (10/12/1991)
Riddle needs improvement on OBP, avg around .275 not much speed, double type power depending on what he can add in the muscle dept., many scouts view as a utility player.

47. Shane Sawczak, P
Age 21 (DOB 11/20/1995)
Swaczak started strong but when called up got hammered in 2 IP in rp. Overall in first taste of pro-ball he pitched 34.2 innings with a 1.33 WHP.

48. Eric Gutierrez, 1B
Age 23 (DOB 12/28/1993)
Gutierrez showed some power with 12 doubles and 5 HR in 200 ab, OBP and AVG need work.

49. Alejando Mateo, P
Age 23 (1/8/1994)
Mateo was used as a RP in his first taste of pro-ball. 33 strikeouts in 34.1 innings suggest that he may have some ability.

50. Zachary Daly, OF
Age 23 (DOB 12/13/1993)
Daly was selected in round 37 of the 2016 draft and he makes the list as number 50 on the Marlins top 50 prospects. Daly had 7 SB in 109 Ab but low average and OBP also did hit a couple HR, potential is there but more of a long term project.

51. Severino Gonzalez, P
Age 24 (DOB 12/28/1992)
Shows promise with good K rate and with a good spring could make a spot in the bullpen for himself.

52. Ryan Jackson, SS
Age 28 (DOB 5/10/1988)
Good OBP, with a good spring could earn a back-up spot.

53. Juan Benitez, P
Age 25 (DOB 12/16/1991)
Future bullpen arm, longshot to produce anything in the bigs this year.

Stoffer is an avid baseball fan who grew up in the heart of Braves country, but felt he never really fit in until the Marlins came along and then it was game over. He has been playing in deep dynasty keeper leagues for 20+ years and only plays in leagues where there is a prospect component. He currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida, which is the perfect place for him because it's home to the Jumbo Shrimp, the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate.

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