The Marlins have made a habit of building competitive teams, then dismantling them just when it seems they might have something going at the Major League level. 2013 saw this scenario play out yet again. Hanley’s gone. Jose Reyes… we hardly knew ya. Lomo is no mo’. With a few exceptions, the Marlins don’t look much like a Major League club at all at the Major League level. But fear not, Fish Faithful… the future looks very bright. The Marlins have one of the top organizations in all of baseball now… and the dividends should finally start to pay off. They have more arms than a school of octopi, and some promising bats as well.
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1. Andrew Heaney/ Pitcher
The Marlins selected Heaney 9th overall in 2012, and he may not be far away from Miami at this point. With a high 90s heater in tow, the lefty rolled through two levels in 2013 to the tune of a 1.61 ERA and 89 Ks in 95 innings. Ace Jose Fernandez should get some company soon, as Heaney slots in nicely as a #2. Andrew will get his share of strikeouts, but won’t be a league-leading type of strikeout pitcher. He should put up outstanding ERA and WHIP… which should translate into wins when the Marlins’ bats catch up to their arms in a couple years.
2. Colin Moran/ Third Base
The Marlins’ top pick in 2013, Moran has already proven that he can handle pro pitchers. He projects as a high average type of guy, bringing good (but not great) pop to the plate. He projects as a .300 hitter with 10-15 homers a year. With apologies to Casey McGehee, there’s little standing in his way at the Major League Level at the hot corner. Moran should be, at worst, a league-average starting third baseman. If his power can increase to the 20-25 homer range, he has a chance to be an all-star.
3. Jake Marisnick/ Outfield
Marisnick has tools that you’d drool over at your local hardware store. In 2013, he had his first chance to display them at the Big League level, with mixed results. His power/speed combo is heavily sought after in fantasy leagues, but he may have to wait a bit longer to bring his act full-time to Miami. A bit more seasoning in the minors in store, and it could be just what the doctor ordered. Like many toolsy prospects, his walk: strikeout ratio could use improving. If Jake puts it all together, he could cap out as a future 20 homer/ 40 steal guy.
4. Justin Nicolino/ Pitcher
Nicolino may not be a dazzling prospect, but he looks like he’ll be a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy when it’s all said and done. Justin put up a solid 3.11 ERA in high A and AA in 2013. His strikeout totals won’t wow you, but his pinpoint accuracy helps justify his spot on this list. There are pitchers below him on the list with higher ceilings, but there are few more solid choices on the board.
5. Jose Urena/ Pitcher
Signed as a teenager out of the Domincan, the 21 year-old is still a bit raw. He does have a fastball that’s been clocked as high as 98 MPH, so there is reason to keep on believing. The Marlins have brought him along very slowly, as he’s spent a full season at each level. If this trend continues, we should see Urena at AA Jacksonville this season. Urena is a bit of a lottery ticket right now. But heck, somebody has to win, right?
6. JT Realmuto/ Catcher
Realmuto is a strong defender, excellent pitch caller and has a rocket arm. If you’re reading this list, however, you’re likely only concerned with his stick. While J.T. does have some nice pop, he could struggle to keep his batting average above the Mendoza line at the Big League level. His defense will get him to The Show. His bat will determine if it’s as a starter or a back-up. He could cap out as a .240 hitter with decent plat discipline and 15 HR a year.
7. Jesus Solarzano/ Outfield
Solarzano is a bit long in the tooth for a guy who has not played above A ball. Now 23, he’ll need to move pretty quickly to cement himself as part of the Marlins’ future. The skills are certainly there, and the numbers have followed suit. In a full season at A ball in 2013, Jesus hit .285, with 15 HR and 33 steals. He’s far from a sure shot, but is very much worth monitoring this season.
8. Adam Conley/ Pitcher
Yet another solid pitcher, the lefty Conley looks to be ready for the Big Leagues now. Unless he blows everyone away in Spring Training, he’ll likely start the year in New Orleans. His strikeout totals are solid, and he could settle in nicely as a #4 type starter by 2015.
9. Brian Flynn/ Pitcher
A major piece in the Anibal Sanchez trade, Flynn is yet another “Ready for the Show” pitcher. He may not have tremendous upside, but also profiles as a #4 starting pitcher. Flynn and Conley are practically interchangeable. Flynn is probably a smidge closer to Miami than Conley. Meanwhile, Flynn’s upside is probably just a touch lower. Both are solid bets to reach the Bigs soon and have at least moderate success.
10. Avery Romero/ Second Base
The Marlins feature several more good pitching prospects (with Anthony DeScalfini and Trevor Williams leading the way) who could have easily claimed the last spot on this list. Romero gets the nod here because of his upside. The jury’s still very much out on whether or not the 20 year-old will reach his ceiling. If he does, he profiles as a .280 hitter with 10-15 HR power and 8-10 steals. Yeah, I’ll take that.