While there are some intriguing names throughout the Miami system, for a team that has aggressively torn it down you could argue that they lack enough impact talent. There are players who have shown their potential value and others who could rise, though time will tell if they can fully develop. Who are the names to watch? Let’s take a look:
1) Sixto Sanchez – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
Part of the return in the JT Realmuto trade, Sanchez spent the bulk of ’19 at Double-A (103.0 IP) pitching to a 2.53 ERA. While the strikeout rate wasn’t a “blow away” mark, an 8.48 K/9 is enough when paired with a 1.66 BB/9 and 47.9% groundball rate. Control and groundballs have always been a strong suit for Sanchez, having posted a 2.12 BB/9 and 52.3% groundball rate at High-A in ’18. He did show a drop in his SwStr%, which is something that’ll have to be monitored:
- 2018 – 13.0%
- 2019 – 11.3%
Whether he can maintain his strikeout stuff is going to be key, especially for a pitcher listed at 6’0”. Will he be able to continue to get downward plane on his fastballs, generating groundballs, or will he start to have home run trouble as he advances? We haven’t seen the problem, yet, but if the strikeouts drop even a little bit and home runs start to rise he could fall well short of expectations.
2) Edward Cabrera – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020
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.
3) JJ Bleday – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2021
The fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bleday held his own at High-A in his first taste of professional baseball as he hit .257 with 3 HR (as well as 8 doubles) over 140 AB. It was an aggressive assignment, but an 8.6% SwStr% is promising and backs up the praise he received for his approach heading into the draft.
At 22-years old the left-handed hitter has the potential to move quickly and emerge as a fixture in one of the corner outfield spots for the Marlins. He’ll look even better if he develops some power, though time will tell. A strong approach is half the battle, and something that he already possesses.
4) Jesus Sanchez – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2020
Acquired in a deadline deal, Sanchez struggled a bit at Triple-A during his time both with the Rays and Marlins:
.227 (29-128), 5 HR, 14 RBI, 17 R, 0 SB
A 13.5% SwStr% obviously loomed large, and it was only marginally better at Double-A (11.4%). There’s also going to be questions about his power potential, as he posted a 49.4% groundball rate last season. Could he develop into a 20 HR type hitter in time? Perhaps, but it’s hard to expect much more than that.
5) Jazz Chisholm – Shortstop
Grade – B-
ETA – 2020
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.
The Next Five:
6) Monte Harrison (OF, Grade – C+) – Harrison is one of those players who has consistently shown power and speed (9 HR and 23 SB over 251 PA in the minors), but his inability to make consistent contact is going to limit his upside. Last season he posted a 16.2% SwStr%, leading to a 29.9% strikeout rate at Triple-A, and while he hit .274 he needed a .373 BABIP to get there. That’s a nearly impossible number to expect him to maintain and the strikeouts could regress further at the Major League level. Sure he has 20/30 potential, but if you are hitting .220 and can’t make contact will it matter?
7) Connor Scott (OF, Grade – C+) – The 2018 first round pick saw time at Single-A (413 PA) and High-A (111 PA), showing off his speed (23 SB). While the power potential hasn’t translated to the field yet (5 HR), he added 28 doubles and 5 triples and that alone shows some potential. Listed at 6’4” and 180 lbs, the 20-year old should continue to mature and learn to tap into his raw power with time. Suddenly a player who could carry 20/20 potential, as long as the left-handed swinger develops against southpaws (he had SLG of .327 at Single-A and .214 at High-A against them last season), he could develop into a Top 30ish type outfielder. He’s an intriguing name to watch as the season progresses.
8) Victor Victor Mesa (OF, Grade – C+) – Has the hype really disappeared this quickly for Mesa? When he signed many expected him to rise into being one of the elite prospects, and while he showed some speed (18-for-20 in stolen base attempts) and an ability to make consistent contact (7.8% SwStr%), he also didn’t draw many walks (4.4%) and showed absolutely no power (0 HR and only 10 extra base hits total over 503 PA). Obviously we aren’t going to completely write him off, but it’s fair to start wondering if he’s more of a fourth outfielder than a future superstar.
9) Lewin Diaz (1B, Grade – C+) – Acquired in the trade that sent Sergio Romo to Minnesota, Diaz totaled 27 HR (as well as 33 doubles and 2 triples) playing at High-A and Double-A. There’s no questioning the power potential he possesses, though his weight is going to be a concern and while he hasn’t had strikeout problems yet it’ll be something to watch as he continues to advance (he had a 12.1% SwStr% at Double-A).
10) Braxton Garrett (LHP, Grade – C+) – The Marlins have numerous prospects who could’ve gotten the last spot on this list, but it’s Garrett that got the nod. The southpaw showed enough in all three skills last season (10.04 K/9, 3.37 BB/9 and a 52.7% groundball rate), with the key being the groundball rate, a skill that many of the other pitchers considered here are lacking. While the control wasn’t “ideal” pitching the bulk of the season at High-A (he got 1.2 IP at Double-A), let’s not forget that he missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery. With the year under his belt and a wipeout curveball leading the way, Garrett should continue to improve. Once a highly touted prospect, don’t be surprised if he flies up prospect lists this season (it wouldn’t be surprising to see him finish the year as a “B” prospect or better).
Name to Watch – Peyton Burdick (OF, Grade – C) – Selected in the third round of the 2019 draft, Burdick spent the bulk of his time at Single-A (288 PA) and delivered immediately hitting .308 with 11 HR and 7 SB over 313 total PA. He added 20 doubles and 4 triples, while also showing an ability to draw walks (10.9% walk rate). Of course he also is 22-years old (he’ll turn 23 in February), so you can argue that he was old for the level and still maintained a 12.8% SwStr%. It’ll be something to watch, but his first impression was definitely strong and has put his name on watch lists.
Just Missed – Trevor Rogers (LHP, Grade – C+), Jorge Guzman (RHP, Grade – C+)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: