The Marlins minor league system has come a long way since the end of 2017 and is now considered one of the top systems in all of baseball. They have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pitching, studs such as Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, Sixto Sanchez, Jake Eder and Eury Perez lead the way. They further enriched the farm system in the 2021 draft selecting Kahlil Watson (draft day steal based on MLB pre-draft rankings) in the first round and signing Yiddi Cappe in the 2020-2021 internal signing period. The biggest area of need, Catching, was addressed in the 2021 MLB draft as well, selecting Joe Mack in the first round and Sam Praytor in the sixth round. The future is bright for Miami, they have a lot of prospects in various stages of development and the next step is to start seeing the fruits of the rebuild payoff and see who they add next!
Stoffer Cochran and Andrew Montenegro collaborated on this Marlins Top 50 list, and shared in the player write-ups. Monte is joining us to help out on the Marlins MiLB beat with Stoffer and we’re excited to have him!
Marlins Minor League Affiliates
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – AAA
Pensacola Blue Wahoos – AA
Beloit Sky Carp – High-A
Jupiter Hammerheads – Low-A
GCL Marlins – Rookie League
DSL Marlins – Foreign Rookie
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 a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making a team’s 40-man roster.
Levels listed for each player are the highest-level player reached.
1. Max Meyer, RHP, 22, AAA
The third overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft used his dominant fastball/slider combo to tear through Double-A south league, earning a promotion to AAA Jacksonville on September 24. The continued development of the changeup and the impressive 2021 season has rocketed Meyer to the top prospect in the Marlins organization even though “undersized” according to many scouting reports. He is looking like another ace to pair with the others that are currently in Miami. Look for Meyer to start back in AAA Jacksonville but if he keeps his excellent xFIP (3.61) and his double-digit K/9 (10.07) then a call to Miami will be coming in 2022.
AAA, meet Max Meyer’s slider.#Marlins pic.twitter.com/uouwWEhLjg
— Fish on the Farm (@marlinsminors) September 24, 2021
2. Edward Cabrera, RHP, 23, MLB
Cabrera earned his August 25th MLB promotion by his stellar 2021 minor league season. Overall, started 13 games (61.1 IP), striking out 92 (excellent 37% K-rate) with a 1.14 WHIP and a 2.93 ERA. His offseason work on his changeup and slider paired with his electric fastball has quieted the high-leverage reliever talk. His MLB debut season was rocky, but he showed that he wasn’t overmatched. Look for him to compete for a rotation spot his spring but he is up against some stiff competition.
3. Kahlil Watson, SS, 18, Rookie (FCL)
The Marlins may have gotten the steal of the draft getting Watson at the #16 pick, as he was projected to be picked in the top 5. Through 9 games in the FCL, the 18-year-old has showcased a smooth left-handed swing and a slash line of .394/.524/.606. He has the arm and athleticism to stay at shortstop but given Miami’s prospect depth at the position, he could easily handle a move to another position if necessary.
Kahlil Watson (‘21, N. C.) just another day, just another bomb for Mr. Watson. #PGDraft @PG_Coastal pic.twitter.com/hDaNGucCp4
— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) June 10, 2021
4. Eury Perez, RHP, 18, High-A
I cannot recall any prospect rising faster in one season than Eury Perez. So many prospect evaluators were low on him and he proved them wrong. Starting in Low-A and moving to High-A by the end of the year, Perez had an astronomical 37% led by his power curve and upper 90’s fastball. His change has shown signs of being a plus pitch and with further development on commanding it, we could be looking at a top of the rotation starter. Looking to see how year two treats the 6’8” righty.
Eury Perez’s 11th and final strikeout of the game. What a performance by the young righty. #JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/wbz0UK9vlh
— Bailey Srebnik (@xwOBAiley) August 7, 2021
5. Peyton Burdick, OF, 24, AAA
Burdick spent the majority of 2021 at AA Pensacola and earned a promotion to AAA Jacksonville at the conclusion of the Blue Wahoos’ season. While in AA he mashed 23 home runs and had a .848 OPS, however, plate discipline remains an issue with a K rate of 29.3% and a batting average of .231. He has the glove and arm to stick at one of the corner outfield positions and be a big contributor in Miami’s near future.
6. JJ Bleday, OF, 24, AA
Taking a bit of a fall from the last ranking because of a slow first half in AA Pensacola, Bleday ended the MiLB season strong and carried that over to a big showing at the Arizona Fall League with a .316/.435/.600 line with 5 homers in 24 games. If he can put together a consistent season this year and cut down on his 21.6% K rate from last year, Bleday could be the highest-rated position player on this list.
7. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, 23, MLB
The future is still bright for one of the Marlins’ top pitching prospects, but injuries have sure stolen the spotlight. Sixto had surgery to repair a capsular tear and clean out the back side of his right shoulder. Reports indicate that he should be ready for Opening Day, but I would have to believe that getting him back healthy for the long haul is more important than rushing him back. When healthy he has the stuff to be elite but there are enough injury concerns to drop him down slightly in the rankings.
8. Jake Eder, LHP, 23, AA
The former 2020 4th round selection was pitching like a number 1 overall pick in 2021, challenging Meyer from the same draft for title of best pick. Unfortunately, Miami fans will have to wait until 2023 to see Eder back on the mound and dominating as he underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2021 season.
9. Jose Salas, SS, 18, Low-A
Splitting time between the FCL (28 games) and Low-A Jupiter (27 games), Salas ended the year with a combined .796 OPS. The switch-hitting 18-year-old shows good plate discipline with 11 walks at both leagues. The ceiling is extremely high for Salas and his 6’2” 191 lbs frame to grow into offensively. There is a lot of defensive flexibility with Salas as he’s played games at shortstop, second, and third.
Marlins prospect SS José Salas homers for the first time with Low-A Jupiter
High fly ball to RF pic.twitter.com/S00oHW9pXI
— Fish Stripes Prospects Coverage (@FishProspects) August 26, 2021
10. Dax Fulton, LHP, 20, High-A
The Marlins’ 2020 round two selection had a successful year in 2021 considering that was his first year back from Tommy John surgery (TJS was the reason the Marlins were able to steal the 6’7” lefty in the first place). Marlins played it safe getting him out here in 20 games (19 starts, 78.1 IP) but he was able to showcase strikeout potential with his plus curveball which is an excellent sign. Look for him to build up his stamina in 2022 and work with the pitching coaches on further developing that changeup.
11. Joe Mack, C, 19, Rookie (FCL)
Although Mack has yet to really tap into his hitting and power tools, there is still a lot to like about the young catcher’s game. His 26.7% walk rate in the FCL is a tribute to his patience at the plate. Behind the dish, he has thrown out 75% of runners attempting to steal and has 9 assists. With the amount of catching depth, the Marlins have acquired since the trade deadline last year there is no need to rush Mack, and let him naturally develop.
12. Zach McCambley, RHP, 22, AA
McCambly dominated the High-A league with a 1.02 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched (11 starts) which earned him a promotion to AA on July 7th. The 2020 3rd round pick struggled with walks in his promotion overshading the great season he had in High-A. Look for him to start at AA and recreate what he did to begin the 2021 campaign.
13. Ian Lewis, 2B, 18, Rookie (FCL)
The switch-hitting Lewis has been on a steady climb and looking at his overall numbers it’s easy to see why. The speedy Bahamian has a slash of .302/.354/.497 paired with 9 stolen bases in 43 games in the FCL. While power is not a key aspect of Lewis’ game the 18-year-old still has plenty of time to add muscle to his 5”10” 177 lbs frame. While he has played a majority of his games at second(32) he has had time at third(5) and short(3)as well, giving him flexibility that several of the Marlins infield prospects also have.
One prospect I fully believe will become a household name in 2022 is #Marlins 2B Ian Lewis.
A 2019 international signing out of the Bahamas, Lewis presents big bat speed and has transformed his frame with lean muscle since signing.
‘21 in FCL (Rk)- .302/.354/.497, 18 XBH (3 HR) pic.twitter.com/x7XUFZKqlP
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) January 7, 2022
14. Victor Mesa Jr., OF, 20, Low-A
Spending the entire season at Low-A Jupiter in 2021 and saw significant growth offensively in every stat from 2019 when he was in Rookie ball, while maintaining his speed. The downside of the rise in power numbers is in strikeouts, going from 14% in 2019 to 21.5% last year, and walks down as well from 11.6% to 7.6%. Still only 19 years old there is hope he can find a balance between plate discipline and power. While he has played every outfield position in Jupiter, he has spent a majority of time at center field, starting 81 of 120 there.
15. Jose Devers, 2B/SS, 22, MLB
The bad news for Devers is In August 2021 he underwent surgery to repair a tear of his posterior labrum in the right shoulder. The good news is he has an estimated return for Spring Training 2022 barring any setbacks. Making his MLB debut last year at 21 years old, he had a solid showing, slashing .244/.304/.317 in a small 21 game sample size before hitting the IL. Not bad considering the highest level of MiLB he had previously played was A+ Jupiter in 2019. The now 22-year-old infielder will hopefully come into this year healthy and ready to compete at whatever level he is assigned to.
16. Yiddi Cappe, SS, 19, Rookie (DSL)
The lanky 6’3” Cuban shortstop had a good showing at the DSL highlighted by a .731 OPS. and a 21.3%-line drive rate. He made solid contact with the ball and has a chance to hit for more power as he fills out his body. He started 50 games in the DSL in 2021 and had a .922% fielding rate with 13 errors on 180 chances which may be cleaned up the more he plays.
17. Braxton Garrett, LHP, 24, MLB
Spending most of 2021 in AAA Jacksonville, Garrett worked in 18 games (all starts 85.2 IP) getting 86 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. Garrett was able to increase his fastball speed slightly (up 0.7 MPH) but is working on ways to utilize his slider more to make that velocity increase payoff. Look for him to spend more time in AAA to get the feel before coming back up to Miami.
18. Nasim Nunez, SS, 21, Low-A
At 5’9” 158 lbs Nunez seems to be a throwback contact/glove-first infielder. He finished last year in Low-A Jupiter with a career high .366 OBP coupled with 0 career home runs, while only making 7 errors in 394.1 innings. His consistent play may not make him a fantasy beast, but it does make him a potential future leadoff man or late inning defensive replacement for the Marlins.
19. Griffin Conine, OF, 24, AA
There is no denying Conine can mash a baseball. He belted a combined 36 home runs between High-A Beloit (23) and AA Pensacola (13). However, with great power comes great strikeouts, 185 Ks total in 408 AB between the two leagues. He projects to be a corner outfielder, with a plus arm better suited for right field.
┃┃╱╲ in this
Run on Griffin Conine
— Beloit Sky Carp (@beloitskycarp) July 10, 2021
20. Cody Morissette, 2B/3B, 22, Low-A
The second rounder out of Boston College made his pro debut at Jupiter with a .204/.308/.299 line along with 20 walks. He also fits the mold of defensive flexibility, playing mostly second and third with 2 starts at short.
21. Nick Neidert, RHP, 25, MLB
Neidert has proven that his ceiling is a 4th or 5th starter, but I think he will settle into the swingman role in the bullpen. He can log some innings and gets batters to put the ball in play, but don’t look to Neidert to be a dominant strikeout assassin.
22. Evan Fitterer, RHP, 21, Low-A
The 2019 5th round pick has been flying under the radar due to the depth of pitching prospects the Marlins have acquired. The next steps for Fitterer are to develop his pitchers further and work on control to keep the batters off balance.
23. Jordan McCants, SS, 19, Rookie (FCL)
Drafted 88th overall, McCants debuted in the FCL. While his overall numbers may have been a bit lackluster the left hitter showed he is able to use the entire field with his batted balls going 32.7% pulled 27.3% center field 40% opposite field. The use of all fields is in line with his high school approach of being a line drive hitter.
24. George Soriano, RHP, 22, High-A
25. Antonio Velez, LHP, 24, AA
26. Jordan Holloway, RHP, 25, MLB
27. Tanner Allen, OF, 23, Low-A
28. Jerar Encarnacion, OF, 24, AA
29. Troy Johnston, OF, 24, High-A
30. Brady Allen, OF, 22, Yet to debut
31. Nick Fortes, C, 25, MLB
32. Payton Henry, C, 24, MLB
33. Sam Praytor, C, 22, Low-A
34. Bryson Brigman, 2B/SS, 26, AAA
35. Monte Harrison, OF, 26, MLB
36. Charles Leblanc, 2B, 25, AAA
Soriano took a big step forward starting 18 games in 2021 and jumping up his strikeout rate (to 29%) while keeping his walk rate in place. After dominating High-A, Velez was promoted to AA and the dominance continued, keep your eye on this lefty who has an average strikeout percentage but an impeccable walk percentage (3%) in his first taste of pro-ball. Encarnacion regressed in all the statistical categories last year but how much of that can be attributed to his IL stints? The Marlins front office basically admitted the lack of minor league catching depth, and the trade deadline deals highlighted that need trading for multiple catchers including Payton Henry. Henry slots in with Fortes and Praytor as basically having the same skillset – backup MLB catcher. However, any offensive improvement can shift that narrative quickly with Fortes and Henry already carrying MLB experience. The December minor league Rule 5 draft brought Leblanc to the Marlins, a power-hitting infielder in the first round. The former 4th round pick played all positions in 2021 excluding catcher and pitcher. If Leblanc can creep up that OBP he could be a very powerful utility player that teams always covet.
37. Bennett Hostetler, 3B, 24, High-A
38. Dylan Bice, RHP, 24, AA
39. Jeff Lindgren, RHP, 25, AA
40. Victor Victor Mesa, OF, 25, AA
41. Osiris Johnson, 2B/OF, 21, Low-A
42. Luis Palacios, LHP, 21, Low-A
43. Luis Vizcaino, RHP, 20, Rookie (GCL)
44. Gabe Bierman, RHP, 22, Low-A
45. Cristhian Rodriguez, SS/3B, 20, Rookie (GCL)
46. Manuel Medina, LHP, 19, Rookie (DSL)
47. Luis Lopez, RHP, 20, Rookie (DSL)
48. Diowill Burgos, OF, 20, Low-A
49. M.D. Johnson, RHP, 24, High-A
50. Luarbert Arias, RHP, 21, Low-A
Rodriguez seems to have taken an all-or-nothing approach at the plate since making his debut. In 2019 he hit 4 home runs and had a walk rate of 13.1% and 25.4% strikeout rate. Last year in the FCL saw him finish at 0 home runs a walk rate of 8.6% and strikeout rate increase to 33.9%, numbers that are trending the wrong way. Hopefully his 2022 can be a more productive one at the dish. An interesting name to keep an eye on is Medina. In the DSL the 19-year-old had a 1.25 ERA in 8 appearances with 1 save. More impressive he had 35 strikeouts in 21.1 innings with a 1.154 WHIP and 0 home runs allowed. In the fourth round of the MiLB Rule 5 draft the Marlins selected Arias from the San Diego Low-A affiliate Lake Elsinore. The 21-year-old has a career 3.60 ERA, 132.2 innings, 158 Ks, and a 1.16 WHIP throughout his 3-year minor league career and could be a potential bullpen piece for the Marlins.
Thank you for taking the time to read our co-authored article. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to reach out via the comments section or you can contact Stoffer on Twitter (@stoffer81) or Andrew on Twitter (@mongo_monte).
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.
I know you’ve touched on this briefly in your comments during the mid-season update, but what a huge fall for Monte Harrison to go from the consensus 126 prospect in the October 2020 update to being barely a tier 4 player this time around despite showing an excellent power and speed combination with AAA Jacksonville. Why the significant drop off? Is it just because he went from age 25 to 26? Is this sort of shift in perception regarding a prospect normal in so short a time?
What happened to Jefry Yan? he was on last year’s rankings
Age had a little to do with the fall but the bigger indicator was at the trade deadline Miami acquired Bryan De La Cruz instead of calling up Harrison. His strikeout rate increased from his 2019 season which isn’t a good future indicator. We love Monte and is one of the most gifted athletes I have personally seen but even by today’s standards he K’s too much. Thank you for checking out our article.
Wow I can’t believe MD Johnson dropped. He was absolutely lights out in High A save for the last start or two. his walks are a little high but he seemed to get it under control a bit in High A. he should start the year in AA why the drop?
Nice article. Thanks for research!