by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
For a team that aggressively tore things down a year ago, jettisoning players like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, the cupboard was surprisingly bare. While the acquisition of Sixto Sanchez and the signing both Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. does give the system a little bit of a jolt, the overall feel is one of extreme risk and significant questions (especially after you get past the Top 2). That doesn’t mean that no one is going to step up and emerge, because there is a little bit of intrigue, but there’s very little that we’d be ready to dub “locks” to perform. How do things currently shake out? Let’s take a look:
1) Sixto Sanchez – Right-Handed
Grade – A-
ETA – 2020
Sanchez has emerged as one of the best pitching prospects in the game, though an elbow injury ended his season in June (after just 8 starts and 46.2 IP). When he was on the mound he was just as good as he’s ever been, posting a 2.51 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at High-A while displaying all of the skills we look for (8.68 K/9, 2.12 BB/9, 52.3% groundball rate).
There is no questioning the potential, the issue now is his health (and to an extent his ability to hold up to a full workload, listed at 6’0” and 185 lbs.). How big of an issue the elbow turns out to be remains an unknown, though the concerns grew larger after he skipped the Arizona Fall League due to a “setback”. As of today the expectations are that he’ll be healthy ahead of the start of the 2019 season, but until we actually see him on the mound and taking the ball every five days we’ll have to take a wait and see approach. The move to Miami could prove to be beneficial, as it is a more pitcher friendly ballpark, but the health still needs to be proven.
2) Victor Victor
Mesa – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
Mesa signed as a 22-year old, the thought is that it won’t be long before he arrives in Miami. His speed will be his greatest asset, and while he should be able to add a little bit of power at 5’9” and playing half his games in Miami his ceiling won’t be extremely high in that regard. He’s a top of the order hitter with the speed and athleticism to be a difference maker, assuming he can bring a solid approach.
That’s going to be the biggest question, especially initially, as we’ve seen other players coming out of Cuba struggle with strikeouts in recent years. Just look at Yoan Moncada, for example, and with speed being his best asset that could drag him down slightly. That said the upside is there to develop into an A-/A type prospect and make a significant impact in 2019.
3) Isan Diaz – Second Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Acquired from Milwaukee as part of the Christian Yelich trade, Diaz split 2018 between Double-A (294 AB) and Triple-A (137 AB), hitting .232 with 13 HR and 14 SB. Before touching the average, keep in mind that he had just 431 AB so he appeared to bring 15/15 upside or better (especially having added 23 doubles and 5 triples). That’s definitely intriguing, once he proves that he can make consistent contact. While the strikeout rate was elevated once again last season (26.7% at Double-A, 29.0% at Triple-A), just look at his SwStr% and the trend over the past few seasons:
- 2016 – 10.8%
- 2017 – 11.6%
- 2018 – 9.8%
The number did jump to 11.6% at Triple-A last season, so there is reason to watch closely. It was only 155 PA and he showed a little bit of growth and development. That’s not to say that there aren’t questions, but if the strikeouts drop he could easily settle in as a .260+ hitter with 15/15 ability.
4) Monte Harrison – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Another piece of the Christian Yelich trade, Harrison played the year at Double-A and showed power (19 HR) and speed (28 SB). He’s always brought that type of dual threat intrigue, including hitting 21 HR with 27 SB between Single-A and High-A in ’17, but his ability to make consistent contact has always been called into question. Just look at these numbers over the past two seasons (Strikeout Rate // SwStr%):
- 2017 – 27.1% // 14.6%
- 2018 – 36.9% // 17.8%
If he’s not making contact is he going to be able to tap into any of that potential? If he can figure that out the grade and outlook will jump significantly, but for now remain pessimistic that it’s going to happen.
5) Sandy Alcantara – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
Alcantara spent the bulk of the year at Triple-A (115.2 IP), showing solid control (2.96 BB/9) and groundballs (49.4%). Those are solid numbers, though a 6.85 K/9 at Triple-A (6.80 overall in the minors, including three starts at High-A) courtesy of a minor league SwStr% of 9.7% brings significant concerns.
He does throw hard and has some upside, though is the control improvement for real? Remember he was at a 3.88 BB/9 over 125.1 IP at Double-A in ’17 and also struggled with his control over 34.0 IP in the Majors last season (6.09 BB/9). Could he figure it out and benefit by pitching in Miami? Possibly, though he also could prove to be a better fit coming out of the bullpen.
6) Nick Neidert –
Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
Neidert may lack the flash and upside of some of the other arms in the Miami system, though he also has a sense of dependability. While his size (6’1” and 180 lbs.) is going to be a question, and could lead to some home run issues, he overall showed an intriguing skill set at Double-A (152.2 IP) last season:
- Strikeouts – 9.08 K/9
- Control – 1.83 BB/9
- Groundballs – 45.9%
Control has always been a strong suit and he showed solid swing and miss stuff in ’17 as well (9.40 K/9 over 104.1 IP at High-A). He may not have the ceiling as others, but he should be a solid pitching prospect and a back of the rotation starter.
7) Trevor Rogers –
Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
An ERA of 5.82 ERA is going to turn some off, and it’s fair, but a 10.53 K/9 and 3.34 BB/9 courtesy of a 13.2% SwStr% and 46.9% groundball rate bring promise. The fact that he’s left-handed only helps, and with a .392 BABIP and 61.2% strand rate it’s obvious that there’s more upside. We have to wait for him to continue to mature, both physically (6’6” and 185 lbs.) and on the mound, but the upside is there.
8) Edward Cabrera – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
At 20-years old he spent the season at Single-A, showing strikeout potential (8.34 K/9, 12.4% SwStr%), though a 3.77 BB/9 and 43.6% groundball rate bring obvious questions. There’s no questioning the actual stuff, with a fastball that clocks in over 100 mph, and if the Marlins decided they could move him to the bullpen where he could quickly evolve into a dominant closer. For now he’s going to get a chance to start, and this season will be interesting to see if he can turn a corner and start to show more than just strikeout stuff.
9) Tristan Pompey – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
The brother of Dalton Pompey, this could be a stretch for Tristan’s ranking but he showed some promise as a 21-year old playing across three levels (with High-A being the highest). Overall he hit .299 with 3 HR and 10 SB over 184 AB, but more importantly the 2018 third round selection showed a strong approach (7.9% SwStr%, 14.6% walk rate). He could develop some power to go along with it, and that’ll bring an intriguing prospect.
10) Connor Scott – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
The 2018 first round selection (13th overall) brings plenty of speed and there’s belief that he can develop some power as he matures. Maybe the struggles came due to being just 18-years old after being drafted, but a 20.0% SwStr% over 208 PA is a scary number for any player who is going to depend on his speed. He has a long time to develop and we’d expect some growth, though time will tell.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: