Last season I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to evaluate prospects from all levels of the Marlins system. I didn’t get to see every player on my list of potential impact prospects, but I saw enough talent to satisfy my scouting needs. More importantly, however, I’ve discussed the many players in the system with scouts and prospect writers, so I’m comfortable ranking and discussing the players I haven’t yet seen. Either way, here’s my top fifteen prospect rankings, starting from the bottom and ending with numero uno.
15. Blake Brewer
After changing his arm-slot midway through the ’11 season, Brewer started to gain more velocity on his fastball and started developing better feel for a change-up. Brewer started sitting 94-96 rather than 91-93 when he was throwing from an over-the-top angle. Regardless, he is best suited as a reliever down the line, but can be a very good one should his stuff continue to improve.
14. Kyle Skipworth
It’s been a rough three-and-a-half years for the former number one pick, but he still has tools to become a solid, everyday catcher. Inconsistency at the plate has resulted in several bad seasons for Skipworth and he’s just never really been able to adjust to professional pitching. It happens to the best of prospects, but Skipworth’s power and skill-set had scouts feeling rather optimistic when they saw him in high school. He’s still only twenty-one years of age so he certainly has time, but the clock is ticking.
13. Kyle Jensen
Jensen’s age (twenty-five) is really all that’s holding him back from prospect consideration. Right now he sits atop the list of Marlins minor leaguers who can hit but don’t have a position or are too old. The Marlins’ system is still rather thin of top prospects, so although Jensen is ranked #13 here, there’s a good chance he wouldn’t come close in another organization.
12. Rob Rasmussen
Rasmussen is an intriguing specimen. He doesn’t possess that great of stuff, but he’s just about major league ready and projects to be a solid middle reliever from the left side from any major league club. He was recently optioned back to the minors but there is a good shot that we’ll be seeing some of the southpaw if the Marlins are in need of bullpen help once the season starts.
It’s March 14th, so aside from it being “National Pi Day,” Marlins Park gates are officially set to open in about three weeks. Additionally, Josh Johnson’s shoulder is feeling ever-so strong, Hanley Ramirez is adjusting well to third-base and Christian Yelich is still managing to impress every scout in attendance. But the Marlins’ players, staff and management aren’t the only ones who eagerly and anxiously await the start of the season because, hey, we here at Marlins Daily are in the exact same boat. Because you asked, my shoulder is decent and I’m adjusting well to my new keyboard. But more importantly, myself and Marlins Daily’s contributors are gearing up for an extremely unforgettable season.
Let’s start off by discussing what you can expect from Marlins Daily for this upcoming season. When Marlins Daily first kicked off back in June of last year, the plan was never for this site to be a news source or kiosk for Marlins fans. While discussing hot topics and current news within the club is never frowned upon, analyzing such bits is a priority. Analysis, analysis and analysis — and, oh yeah, analysis — is what Marlins Daily is all about, and that’s what’ll be flowing into your news feeds now that things are almost back in full swing. Pitch f/x, advanced statistics, projections, minor league scouting reports and game-by-game analysis is what will regularly be featured on the site, thanks to a impressive group of writers. Those writers, sans myself, are as follows…
On Monday afternoon, we learned of the Athletics agreement with Yoenis Cespedes, a four-year deal worth around $36MM. The deal came as a surprise given their lack of previous interest but more importantly, because of the strong likelihood of Cespedes inking a deal with the Marlins. Despite the favorable initial chances of that happening, Cespedes will be donning gold and green in 2012 and the Marlins will have to move on. Although they missed out on an impressive young talent and someone who they long-coveted the Marlins offense still, at the very least, projects to be satisfactory.
Entering the off-season, fans and pundits predicted the Marlins to sign at least one of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. The hope from fans was that after the Marlins did ink one of the two first-basemen they would subsequently ship Gaby Sanchez elsewhere and continue upgrading their roster. After that notion went for not, or at least after they used some of the Pujols money to upgrade areas elsewhere on their roster the popular target inevitably became Yoenis Cespedes, arguably the best Cuban defector to become a free agent since Aroldis Chapman a few years back.
If there’s one thing that’s lasted within the Marlins organization for almost the entirety of Jeffrey Loria’s tenure as owner, it’s the enforced rule disabling players from rocking any sort of facial or long hair. Like the Yankees, the Marlins Brass only wants to see clean-cut Fish on the field. Although I don’t blame them, I’ve never been a fan of this sort of uniformity. It’s just too strict of a rule in my opinion. But most of all, it prevents players from being themselves on the diamond. That said, it doesn’t impact any part of the game and never contains enough depth to actually be considered an “issue.”
Former Marlins’ and recently retired infielder Craig Counsell had a memorable career despite never being the best in the game by any means. He was most known for his unorthodox styles at the plate and especially his role on a few triumphant teams.
In correspondence, Chris Jaffe over at The Hardball Times takes a look at the career highlights of Counsell. In timeline form, Jaffe goes year-by-year and franchise-by-franchise listing the most notable accolades of the former Brewer, Marlin, D-Back and Rockie, among others.
As always, Jaffe compiled a well-thought out article and one that I enjoyed reading. So be sure to give it a read.
Thankfully, Jeremiah Johnson created one, a full guide to potentially maintain confidence in the Marlins most recent acquisition. From lack of self-awareness and instincts to hitting a long ball, the descriptive article enlightens us on just about everything we should keep in mind when watching Carlos Zambrano be, well, Carlos Zambrano.
Make sure to give it a read and bookmark it as all of us are sure to reference it at some point during the season. And lastly, remember, no refunds!
I recently sat down with Marlins prized pitching prospect Austin Brice and conducted a quick interview with him. To give you a bit of an idea of who Brice is, he most likely ranks among the top 15 prospects and is said to have some of the highest upside of anybody in the organization. He’s a righty with pretty good stuff and lots of arm strength. Expect to hear Brice’s name considerably more as he progresses through the Marlins organization. But until then, the pitcher talks about that very subject and his expectations leading up to his potential Major League promotion.
1) Can you talk a little bit about who you are as a pitcher? What you throw, your approach on the mound, etc.
One word: “DOMINATION.” I’m coming at you with everything I have no matter who you are. I throw a fastball, curveball, and change-up. Last year, I really learned how to use my change-up, and use it well. But I’m mostly learning how to be more consistent. But hey, who isn’t?
2) What some of your biggest and best experiences of pitching in the Marlins organization?
Well, with this year being my first full season the stories will be few. However, I would have to say the biggest day of my career was when Brian Chattin called me mid-September after the GCL Playoffs and said, “hey Austin, it is my pleasure to be able to tell you that you have won Minor League Pitcher of the month for August. I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do with myself. All those years of hard work and sweat was what paid off in the end. Also, I threw with Josh Johnson one day when he was on a rehab assignment. In my list of stories that would probably rank as one of the cooler things that I have done.
3) What are some of the biggest things you’re working on to improve yourself going forward and especially this coming season?
Update — 7:30: According to our good buddy Clark Spencer, the Cubs will absorb all of the $18MM owed to Zambrano this season. The Cubs will receive Chris Volstad in the deal. Now this trade appears much less suspicious for the Fish.
6:16: According to Ken Rosenthal over at FOX Sports, the Marlins are in the process of acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs. The trade is expected to go through, according to Rosenthal, that is assuming Zambrano waives his no-trade clause. We’ve heard rumors swirling regarding the Cubs’ desire to move Zambrano all winter, and to be completely honest, it’s hard to believe they finally found a match given the almost-$40MM that the right-hander is owed over the next two years. Hell, Zambrano isn’t even that good yet he’s getting paid more than any two-win pitcher should ever sniff.
Aside from a hefty pay check, lots of walks and a fair amount of strikeouts, Zambrano also comes with a record of at least one tirade per year over the last four seasons. I guess we can at least assume Zambrano isn’t heading to South Florida to display his leadership qualities. In any case, the fairly large dimensions of New Marlins Ballpark intrigue me, so the homer-prone Zambrano might net some help in that category.
Additionally, his two previous seasons before last both consisted of FIPs south of 4.00, so if he can get back to that he’d be a really decent #4 or #3 starter for the Fish, this is all assuming he can get his K-rate back to the 8.00 range where it’s been most of his career. Lofty expectations for the right-hander, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Either way, he’ll still be an over-payed volcano but still a viable back-end guy when on the mound.
Over at the Sun Sentinel Blog, our good friend Juan Rodriguez toured the ballpark for the final time and took some pretty neat pictures. All of the photos below are courtesy of Rodriguez.
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