The 2017 Miami Marlins Top 10 Prospects

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1. Braxton Garrett, LHP                                        
Born: 08/05/97 Age: 19 Bats: L Top CALs: N/A

 

Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Throws: L

Background: Fun Fact Part I: Since the franchise’s first draft in 1992, the Marlins have selected seven left-handed pitchers in the opening round – five of them coming from the prep ranks. Fun Fact Part II: Only one of those southpaws, Andrew Heaney, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State University, has topped more than one win above replacement during their respective careers. Miami grabbed Garrett, who stands 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, with the seventh overall pick last June and signed him to a pact worth $4,145,900 – nearly $400,000 above the recommended slot bonus.  The Marlins opted to keep the young hurler from making his professional debut last season as a pre-cautionary measure, an effort to slowly build him up.

Projection: Garrett, like every other high school pitcher taken early in the draft, was practically unhittable during his senior year at Florence High School: he posted an impeccable 125-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with a 0.56 ERA in 62.1 innings of work. Per the usual, especially since he didn’t throw a single pitch in the organization, it’ll be a wait-and-see approach with the young lefty. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him start in Low Class A despite not seeing any action in 2016.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Risk: N/A

MLB ETA: N/A

 

 

2. Tyler Kolek, RHP                                          
Born: 12/15/95 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: Brian Gonzalez, Matt Kretzschmar, Juan Minaya, Fabian Jimenez-Angulo, Shawn Morimando
Height: 6-5 Weight: 260 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 19 A 108.2 4 10 4.56 4.87 6.71 5.05 16.20% 12.20% 0.58 65.00%

Background: This isn’t how the Marlins – or Kolek – would have pictured the former #2 overall pick’s career going during the first three years: the big Texas-bred right-hander, who shocked the scouting world by unfurling triple-digit heat during his amateur career, looked underwhelming during his brief debut in the Gulf Coast League; he followed that up with another ho-hum showing as he moved into the South Atlantic League a year later, and he failed to throw a meaningful pitch in 2016 – thanks to Tommy John surgery. Kolek succumbed to the all-too-common elbow procedure in early April last season.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote about the fire-slinging right-hander in last year’s book:

“Personally, I always find it troublesome – though it’s not always proven – when incoming high prep picks fail to perform at an above-average level in lowest rookie leagues, something that could be said about Kolek’s debut in the GCL two years ago. And after another so-so year in 2015, Kolek’s still no closer to capitalizing on his God-given talent.

But here’s something incredibly bothersome: Kolek and his 100 mph fastball made 25 starts in 2015; of those games, the big Texas-born right-hander averaged more than one punch out per inning seven times. That’s it, seven times. Or in other words, that’s 28% of his starts. Yes, he still has the potential to peak as a front-end starting pitcher, but he needs to start taking some dramatic leaps forward in the next year or two.”

Well, needless to say, after a disappointing two-and-a-half years in the Miami system, Kolek needs to show type of developmental leap forward in 2017 – which is only complicated as he returns from the injury.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Risk: High to Extremely High

MLB ETA: 2019

 

 

3. Jose Quijada, LHP                                      
Born: 11/09/95 Age: 21 Bats: L Top CALs: Yadier Alvarez, Eduardo Paredes, Trevor May, Zach Reininger, Steve Kent
Height: 6-0 Weight: 175 Throws: L

Background: The Venezuelan-born southpaw got off to a late start last season – his first game occurred on May 18th – but that didn’t stop him from reaching High Class A less than three months later. The 20-year-old threw a combined 50.1 innings, all coming out of the bullpen, while fanning an impressive 69, walking just 10, and totaling an aggregate 2.32 ERA. For his brief career, the 6-foot, 175-pound left-hander is averaging 9.7 strikeouts and just 2.3 walks per nine innings with a 2.52 ERA in 52 games.

Projection: Quijada was limited to just eight innings across eight games two years ago in the Gulf Coast League, so he basically jumped from the Dominican Summer League straight into the Sally – and right up to High Class A just 34.0 innings later. He’s going to be a breakout prospect in 2017. And, personally, I hope that the Marlins start stretching him out as a starter in the next year or two because young lefty’s with flashy peripherals deserve a chance. I like him a lot – A LOT.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Risk: High to Extremely High

MLB ETA: 2019/2020

 

 

4. Isael Soto, CF/RF                                    
Born: 11/02/96 Age: 20 Bats: L Top CALs: Joe Benson, Franmil Reyes, Bubba Starling, Luigi Rodriguez, Luis Alexander Basabe
Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2016 19 A 448 24 5 9 0.247 0.320 0.399 0.152 9.60% 25.70% 107

Background: The front office, per the usual, has aggressively challenged the young outfielder over the course of his brief professional career. After signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Soto made his debut the following year in the Gulf Coast League, hitting .251/.302/.426 with 24 doubles, five triples, and nine homeruns while topping the league average mark by 9%. He appeared in just 29 games the following year, but the organization had no qualms about pushing the 19-year-old straight up to the Sally last season. Soto responded by hitting .247/.320/.399 with 24 doubles, five triples, nine homeruns, and three stolen bases en route to tallying a 107 wRC+.

Projection: Soto actually had a relatively strong season in Low Class A last season, posting an OPS of at least .749 in April, May, July, and August. His 17-game month of June when he batted .161/.277/.161 absolutely wrecked his overall numbers. It’s intriguing power potential, especially once he grows into his six-foot frame. Soto’s very similar to Austin Dean – both of whom could have sneaky shots, albeit with long odds, to develop into a fringy big league regular. One additional obstacle he’ll need to overcome: he batted just .209/.278/.313 against fellow left-handers last season.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2019

 

 

5. Austin Dean, LF                                                          
Born: 10/14/93 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Juan Portes, Sean Henry, Jeremy Barfield, Daniel Ortiz, Andrew Lambo
Height: 6-1 Weight: 190 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 18 R 182 11 0 2 0.223 0.337 0.338 0.115 13.20% 19.20% 108
2013 19 A- 231 12 7 2 0.268 0.325 0.418 0.150 7.40% 20.30% 125
2014 20 A 449 20 4 9 0.308 0.371 0.444 0.136 8.50% 16.00% 128
2015 21 A+ 578 32 2 5 0.268 0.318 0.366 0.098 6.70% 13.10% 107
2016 22 AA 536 23 5 11 0.238 0.307 0.375 0.138 9.00% 20.50% 97

Background: One of my favorite prospects the system had to offer a couple years ago. Dean, a former fourth round pick out of Klein Collins High School in 2012, batted an impressive – and underrated, or so I thought – .308/.371/.444 with 20 doubles, four triples, nine homeruns, and four stolen bases with a 128 wRC+ in 99 games in the Sally. As a 20-year-old. But Dean’s production took a noticeable step backward when the club bumped him up to the Florida State League the following year, hitting a slightly better-than-average .268/.318/.366. Last season Miami pushed the then-22-year-old corner outfielder up to Class AA. And, once again, his production took a noticeable step backwards: he batted .238/.307/.375 with 23 doubles, five triples, and a career high 11 homeruns. His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, was 3% below the league average mark.

Projection: Dean got off to an impressive start with the Jacksonville Suns last season, slugging .254/.331/.410 with 16 doubles, three triples, and nine homeruns over his first 85 games. But his production crashed over his final 45 contest when he batted .206/.256/.309 with just 11 extra-base hits.

Dean’s still only entering his age-23 season, but one of these years he’s going to post a 15/15 season and people will start to take notice. He’s probably not going to develop into a league average regular, but there’s always a chance.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

6. Drew Steckenrider, RHP                        
Born: 01/10/91 Age: 26 Bats: R Top CALs: Dumas Garcia, David Goforth, Barret Browning, Chris Bassitt, Jeffrey Lorick
Height: 6-5 Weight: 215 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 24 A 39.1 1 3 2.75 3.71 7.78 3.89 20.40% 10.20% 0.46 76.60%
2015 24 A+ 56.2 4 3 3.18 3.50 6.99 3.97 17.70% 10.00% 0.32 78.10%
2016 25 AA 30.1 1 0 1.48 1.84 11.57 2.97 35.10% 9.00% 0.00 78.30%

Background: From eighth round pick to injured, forgotten starter to budding high leverage big league reliever. The journey from the University of Tennessee through the minor leagues hasn’t been an easy one for the 6-foot-5, 215-pound right-hander. Thanks to Tommy John surgery, Steckenrider threw just 56.0 innings over his first two seasons and was held to fewer than 100.0 innings the following year. But Steckenrider, who was transitioning into a reliever two years ago, made three – dominant stops – in the minor leagues last season en route to throwing 52.0 innings with a whopping 71 punch outs, 19 walks, and an aggregate 2.08 ERA.

Projection: Steckenrider fanned 36% of the total batters he faced while showing league average control. The Marlins were chasing some very high-priced relievers this offseason – they were tied to Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman with big dollars being floated about – but settled on Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa instead. Steckenrider is going to help bridge the gap to the ninth inning. And soon.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

7. Stone Garrett, OF                                             
Born: 11/22/95 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: Manuel Hernandez, Yorman Rodriguez, Guillermo Pimentel, Kyler Burke, Phillips Castillo
Height: 6-2 Weight: 195 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 18 R 156 3 1 0 0.236 0.269 0.270 0.034 4.50% 19.90% 58
2015 19 A- 247 18 6 11 0.297 0.352 0.581 0.284 7.70% 24.30% 167
2016 20 A 212 9 2 6 0.213 0.265 0.371 0.157 5.20% 33.50% 82

Background: Because what other organization would this incident happen in? Garrett was cut on his right thumb by a knife as part of a prank by (former) teammate Josh Naylor in early June. Roughly three weeks later the Marlins shipped off Naylor as part of the Andrew Cashner deal. One has to wonder if the prank (A) factored into the club’s decision and (B) was actually a prank. Anyway, Garrett missed more than two months after the ordeal. Ouch. Overall, the former eighth round pick – who signed for a six-figure bonus – batted a disappointing .213/.265/.371 with nine doubles, a pair of triples, and six homeruns to go along with an 82 wRC+.

Projection: So the injury, which was pretty significant given the amount of time he missed, chewed up a lot of his early season production as well. Consider the following:

  • Pre-injury: .244/.303/.450 with eight doubles, two triples, and five homeruns with a 115 wRC+ in 35 games.
  • Post-injury: .151/.205/.205 with one double and one homerun with a 20 wRC+ in 20 games.

Clearly, it heavily impacted his approach and production at the plate.

When he’s healthy Garrett offers up a lot of power potential with poor walk rates and some borderline red flag strikeout rates. Assuming he bounces back completely, fingers crossed, Garrett profiles as someone that fits in between a Quad-A and fringy big league regular.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2019

 

 

8. Dillon Peters, LHP                                 
Born: 08/31/92 Age: 24 Bats: L Top CALs: Jesse Beal, Brian Duensing, Kevin Tomasiewicz, Stefan Crichton, P.J. Conlon
Height: 5-9 Weight: 195 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 22 A- 31.2 0 3 4.83 3.58 7.67 2.84 18.10% 6.70% 0.57 53.00%
2016 23 A+ 106.0 11 6 2.46 2.53 7.56 1.36 20.60% 3.70% 0.17 76.50%

Background: Typically we see a lot of college prospects improve throughout their respective amateur careers. Some don’t and quietly toe the line of consistent production. Others, though, take a noticeable step backwards. Guess which group the 5-foot-9 lefty falls into? The former Texas Longhorn split his freshman season between the school’s bullpen and rotation, throwing 39.2 innings while averaging more than a punch out per inning with some, admittedly, questionable control. Over the next two seasons he averaged just 5.9 K/9 as a full-fledged starter, though he succumbed to Tommy John surgery during his junior season. Miami grabbed the diminutive southpaw in the 10th round three years ago, though he wouldn’t make his debut until the following year. After splitting his first season between the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues, Peters certainly made up for lost time in 2016. The 23-year-old dominated the Florida State for 20 starts and looked nearly unhittable in four more games in the Southern League. Overall, he finished the year with 128.2 innings, 105 punch outs, just 20 walks, and a 2.38 ERA.

Projection: After being M.I.A. following his selection in the 2014 draft – surgery tends to do that to player – and throwing just 45.0 innings in the lower levels, Peters barely registered a blip on my prospect radar. But after his impressive showing last season he’s vaulted up the charts quite a bit – which is also aided by the Marlins’ terrible system. He’s definitely not overpowering, but he’s already missing more bats than he did during his final two years at Texas. Throw in some outstanding control – he walked just 3.9% of the hitters he faced last season – and you don’t have to squint too hard to see a #5 starter. He’ll need to prove his slight frame can withstand the rigors of grabbing the ball every fifth day. At worst, he’s a swing-man-type.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2018

 

 

9. Jarlin Garcia, LHP                                                  
Born: 01/18/93 Age: 24 Bats: L Top CALs:  John Gast, John Simms, Tim Alderson, Robin Leyer, Camilo Vazquez
Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 A- 69.7 2 3 3.10 3.14 9.56 2.33 26.10% 6.30% 0.90 68.90%
2014 21 A 133.7 10 5 4.38 3.77 7.47 1.41 19.50% 3.70% 0.88 62.60%
2015 22 A+ 97.0 3 5 3.06 3.05 6.40 2.13 17.20% 5.70% 0.37 70.20%
2015 22 AA 36.2 1 3 4.91 4.20 8.59 4.17 21.70% 10.60% 0.98 62.80%
2016 23 AA 39.2 1 3 4.54 4.25 6.13 2.50 16.10% 6.60% 0.91 63.90%

Background: Just like a lot of the club’s other noteworthy minor leaguers, Garcia missed a significant amount of time last season. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound left-hander suffered a triceps injury and missed about two full months of action. The Dominican-born southpaw opened the year up with the Jacksonville Suns last season. Before the injury struck, Garcia tossed 39.2 innings with 27 punch outs, 11 walks, and a 4.54 ERA. Upon his return in from a three-game rehab stint in mid-August, Garcia was demoted back down to Jupiter in the Florida State League where he would throw another five games – all of them coming as a reliever. Overall, he finished the year with a 38-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 50.2 innings.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote when I listed him as the 14th best prospect in Miami’s system last year:

“Garcia looks better in a weak system like Miami. He’s continued to plod along the lower levels without truly differentiating himself among his peers – sans his strong showing with Batavia in 2013. Otherwise, he’s never fanned more than 21.7% of the batters he’s faced in a season. He might develop into a backed starting pitcher, but he could just as easily (A) flame out in the upper minors or get pushed into a relief role in the next two or three years.”

After the lost year of development Garcia’s now entering his age-24 season with just 76.1 – mostly mediocre – innings above High Class A. The control is a pretty reliable skill, but his swing-and-miss totals need to hold firm. At best he’s a #5. At worst he’s a useful middle inning reliever.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

10. Tomas Telis, C                                         
Born: 06/18/91 Age: 26 Bats: B Top CALs: Brayan Pena, Ramon Cabrera, Ty Heineman, Juan Graterol, Juan Centeno
Height: 5-8 Weight: 220 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 21 A+ 484 24 1 4 0.247 0.283 0.331 0.084 3.50% 11.00% 68
2013 22 AA 369 19 0 4 0.264 0.290 0.353 0.089 2.70% 12.50% 79
2014 23 AA 295 16 2 2 0.303 0.339 0.401 0.097 5.80% 9.80% 109
2015 24 AAA 355 15 1 5 0.297 0.336 0.394 0.097 5.40% 10.40% 93
2016 25 AAA 368 16 3 6 0.310 0.362 0.429 0.119 7.30% 11.40% 112
2016 25 AAA 368 16 3 6 0.310 0.362 0.429 0.119 7.30% 11.40% 112

Background: Acquired from the Rangers along with Cody Ege in exchange for Sam Dyson, Telis has had several brief cups of coffee in the big leagues over the past three seasons where he’s cobbled together a disappointing .227/.258/.269 triple-slash line. But his work in the upper levels of the minor leagues suggest he might be capable of something much more along the lines of a solid big league backup. Telis, a rotund 5-foot-8, 220-pound backstop out of Venezuela, owns a .281/.312/.374 triple-slash line in 161 games in Class AA and an even better production line in 210 games in the Pacific Coast League (.311/.354/.425). For his nine-year minor league career, he’s sporting a .294/.331/.402 triple-slash line with 158 doubles, 16 triples, and 42 homeruns in 755 total games.

Projection: Telis does a lot of things reasonably well – he hits for a decent average with gap power that could peak with double-digit homeruns given enough playing time – but he lacks a true standout tool. The reason, I suspect, that he hasn’t earned more than a few cursory is his inability to keep potential base runners honest – he’s thrown out roughly 28% of would-be base stealers in his career – and team’s typically like defensive-minded backups at the position.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Risk: Low

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2014

 

 

Author’s note: A special hat tip the following websites for the use of the their statistics – fangraphs, baseballreference, baseballprospectus, statcorner, and ClayDavenport.com



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.