The Marlins are not a team that’s going to compete in 2020, whenever the season starts, so it makes sense for them to give their top prospects exposure at the highest level instead of letting them lose a key year of development. Who could make an impact? Let’s take a look at two names and try to determine if they’ll have value.
Jazz Chisholm – Shortstop
The Marlins were expected to enter the year with a combination of Miguel Rojas and Jon Berti at shortstop, but there’s reason to believe that will change under the new circumstances. Enter Chisholm, acquired at the 2019 Trade Deadline, who is considered one of the team’s top prospects. Already on the 40-man roster, doesn’t it make sense for the team to get him exposure at the highest level so he’s ready to hit the ground running in 2021? Considering the plans for the position initially, there’s reason to believe.
Just because he’s in the Majors doesn’t make Chisholm a can’t miss. We gave him a “B-“ grade when ranking prospects prior to the season and said the following:
He’s got some power (21 HR) and speed (16 SB), but the question is going to be whether or not he has the ability to make consistent contact. Playing the year at Double-A (458 PA), it didn’t matter which organization he was playing for he struggled (strikeout rate):
- Diamondbacks – 33.8%
- Marlins – 25.5%
A 15.9% SwStr% is a highly concerning number, and it is a black cloud hanging over him. If he isn’t going to make contact he isn’t going to succeed, and with the potential for the strikeout rate to rise further there may be more downside than upside.
Considering the strikeout issues already and the fact that he’d be making the leap from Double-A to the Majors, the concerns are real. Maybe this positions him for success in 2021, but if called on in 2020 it’s highly likely that he struggles.
Verdict – Hard Pass for 2020
Edward Cabrera – Starting Pitcher
The Marlins are loaded with young pitching. Just look at the expected rotation to start the year:
- Caleb Smith
- Sandy Alcantara
- Jose Urena
- Pablo Lopez
- Jordan Yamamoto
None of them have reached 29-years old as of yet, and they all could thrive. Of course all teams are always looking for depth, and for the Marlins that could mean giving several prospects an opportunity. While Sixto Sanchez will get the bulk of the attention, would it be surprising if Cabrera ultimately emerged as the better prospect?
Ranked #14 among starting pitchers when we ranked our Top 30 pitching prospects for 2020, Cabrera received a “B+” grade and we said:
Cabrera doesn’t get the attention of other prospects, but it should be just a matter of time. The 21-year old (he’ll turn 22 in April) can already touch 100 mph, and at 6’4” and 175 lbs. he should continue to fill out and potentially improve. That’s a scary thought, considering the impressive numbers he posted between High-A (58.0 IP) and Double-A (38.2 IP):
- Strikeouts – 10.80 K/9 (courtesy of a 13.3% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.89 BB/9
- Groundballs – 47.7%
Sure the SwStr% was “only” 11.4% at Double-A, but is anyone going to complain? The biggest improvement was in his control, after he posted a 3.77 BB/9 in ’18. As his secondary pitches continue to develop (changeup and curveball), after taking a step forward already, he’s only going to get better. Cabrera has the potential to develop into a true ace, something that’s not easy to find, making him well worth the investment.
He could struggle initially, as he needs to develop the secondary pitches, but he can’t do that sitting on the sidelines. That’s why it makes sense for the team to get him on the field in some role, and it’s easy to envision him getting starts every five days. He already has made gains on his changeup, as MLB.com noted that he “did a better job of maintaining velocity separation between his fastball and changeup, which has become a solid third offering.”
That is key and will go a long ways, but those searching for pitching it makes sense to kick the tires and see.
Verdict – Buying for 2020 and beyond
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: