Archive for Minor Leagues
Written by Spencer Schneier (@Baseball_Spencer)
Brice has an unnatural looking delivery, featuring a high leg-kick, and keeping his back stiff which causes him to have to throw across his body with some head-whip. Brice was never a full-time pitcher until entering the Marlins system, which is probably why his mechanics are still so raw. The leg-kick allows him to get a big stride and push off the mound, so he should be able to add some velocity as he fills out and cleans his mechanics up.
Brice has strong legs that he leverages to be able to sit 92-93, but because of his sloppy mechanics he struggles to maintain velocity. He has broad shoulders that he has yet to fill out, and when he does he should be a strong presence on the mound.
As I mentioned Brice really needs to work on his stamina. In the first inning he sat 92-93, but tired himself out and ended up sitting 88-89. He is still very raw on the mound, and his pitchability suffers more than anything because of it.
Brice’s fastball was hard to grade, as there were two versions of it that I saw: 1st inning fastball, and everything after that. In the first his fastball was 92-93, with late life and some arm-side run. I would have graded it as a 55/60 pitch had he maintained that the whole game. After the first inning however, he didn’t throw one fastball I would grade as league average. The ball lost velocity, and lacked any kind of movement or life. I think if he can clean up his mechanics and work on consistency that this pitch could be an above-average one, featuring good velocity and movement.
Remember that old childhood playground insult, “boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider?” Horrendous grammar and insinuations of impossible space travel aside, it remains a classic verbal barb. But for the Miami Marlins, much of their future does in fact lie in Jupiter.
Jupiter, Florida, that is.
Despite falling just short of a Florida State League championship, the single-A Jupiter Hammerheads were one of the more intriguing Marlins affiliates to watch in the 2012 season. With the debacle that has occurred at the major league level this season, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fact that there are plenty of players for Marlins fans to get excited about at the minor league level. And much of the most impressive developments from this system have taken shape on the Hammerheads’ roster. Read More→
Spencer Schneier, an Independent Scout, has compiled a full scouting report on Andrew Heaney, the Marlins’ first round pick from the 2012 Draft. Please thank Spencer for his outstanding work on this and be sure to follow him on Twitter @BaseballSpencer
On Saturday night in Greensboro I was fortunate enough to watch Andrew Heaney pitch for the Grasshoppers. In his second start in the Sally League, Heaney impressed me, as well as the other scouts I was sitting near.
General Pitching Tools
Two things that are not necessarily objective that stood out to me: Heaney had an excellent poker face on the mound, as it was near impossible to determine whether he was upset about something, happy about a pitch, or disappointed with an umpire’s call. He has plus mound presence and average feel for pitching, which should be plus as he progresses. The second thing that stood out was his work ethic. He clearly is a good, hard-working player as he was the first player on the field for either team, and was done stretching before the next guy made his way out. His make-up appears to be good as well, because his high school coach’s sister made the hour and a half drive from Raleigh to see him. She was happy to talk to anyone that would listen about how nice a kid Heaney is.
I liked Heaney’s mechanics for the most part, noting a high leg-kick, but that he whips his head a little bit at the end of his delivery. I thought that this may lead to some command problems. I thought that his broad shoulders and skinny legs showed room for filling out, and that he could add some velocity if he does.
I thought that he did a good job holding runners and staying aware of them, despite the Greensboro pitching coach mentioning that as something he could improve on. The only other note that is not directly related to a pitch is that I thought his pitch sequencing was below average, but I also was not sure if he was trying to work on something in particular.
The fastball was the worst pitch, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It sat 88-92, but what makes it so good is the movement. Best described as “a cutter and sinker had a baby,” it moves down and in on right handed batters. He struggled to spot it throughout the night, which I believe most mostly caused by the slight head-whip he has at the end of his delivery.
Although the news of the Marlins’ lone All-Star representative Giancarlo Stanton’s knee injury is a big blow to Fish fans, there is still plenty to look forward to this All-Star weekend. Today is the day we get to watch firsthand the top two prospects in the organization, OF Christian Yelich and P Jose Fernandez, compete in the 2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game.
The Futures Game has grown quite a bit in popularity over the last several years, and this year’s contest features a who’s-who list of the game’s top prospects on both the U.S. and World rosters. In recent years, Marlins Futures Game reps have included Jhan Martinez, Logan Morrison, and the aforementioned Stanton, but this year figures to be particularly exciting for fans of the Fish.
At just 19 years old, righty Jose Fernandez started the season by dominating the South Atlantic League, posting a 1.59 ERA while striking out 99 in 79 innings. Fernandez, the club’s first-round pick in 2011, was promoted to Class A Jupiter on June 25, and although he’s struggled in his first two starts there, the Marlins haven’t had a pitching prospect with this much upside since the days of Josh Beckett.
Yelich, the club’s 2010 first-round selection out of Westlake HS in California, was #41 overall on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list for 2012 and has also posted some fantastic numbers. Despite dealing with some minor injuries, Yelich has managed to put his hit tool on display this season , posting a slash line of .315/.393/.560 with 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases for Class A Jupiter. Yelich has swung the bat at every level since the Marlins drafted him and he’ll only continue to climb up the prospect rankings if he keeps up his current pace. He even displayed an 80 on the wit scale with a tweet regarding Bryce Harper’s eye injury earlier this season, as seen below.
Fernandez and Yelich are both young but very advanced for their age, and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see debuts around late 2013 for both. It may seem like an eternity with the ups and downs of this season at the big league level, but for a couple hours today, fans can take solace in knowing the talent that is on its way. So rejoice, Marlins fans. This is the future.
Your daily prospect report, courtesy of yours truly and the guys in the system.
Double-A Jacksonville (in 7-3 loss to Mobile)
Kevin Dominguez — 2-4 w/ a strikeout
Dominguez isn’t much of a prospect, but he’s still hitting .253/.304 on the season, including a .357 hash in just over a dozen Double-A at-bats.
Kyle Jensen -- 1-5 w/ a HR
Jensen is a thick, large-bodied outfielder who remains a longshot to stay in that position, but the bat is definitely there. Kyle Jensen hit his 24th home run of the season tonight
Brad Hand — 6.0 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 7 (BB) | 4 (K)
Hand showed terrible command tonight, but still managed to keep the runs off the board. The case of Hand, a Major Leaguer one day and a Southern Leaguer the next, is quite astonishing as you never know what kind of numbers he’ll put up. Take today’s start with a grain of salt, as a variety of reasons could have led to his wildness.
Low-A Greensboro (in 6-2 loss to Lakewood)
Marcell Ozuna — 1-4 w/ HR (20)
We already knew that Ozuna is arguably the streakiest hitter in the minor leagues, but his power might also be the most raw. Ozuna has tons of holes in his swing and likely is power and nothing else, but he’s getting the job done.
Jacob Realmuto — 1-4
Realmuto has put up an outstanding South Atlantic League line of .282/.345 in his first season of pro ball. In addition, he’s shown the ability to hit for power and play solid defense behind the plate. He’s one of my sleeper candidates in the Marlins system.
It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Gregory Burie, who will be contributing about 2-3 posts per week. His primary focus will be on the Minor Leagues, which is important because at least in my opinion, there are some hidden gems down there. With his first post, Gregory took a look at the pitching depth surrounding the Marlins system. It’s real good stuff, so have a read and give him the warmest of welcomes! -DG
It was not so long ago when the starting rotation was considered the strength of this ball club. Josh Johnson was a cyborg mowing down hitters with impunity, Anibal Sanchez flirted with a no-hitter nearly every time on the mound, and we had the Dr. Jekyll version of Ricky Nolasco back. Brimming with confidence from the team’s hot start, I was proclaiming to everyone within earshot that JJ was a lock for the NL Cy Young.
Oh how the tables have turned. Now I find myself in the fetal position in my #55 jersey, watching Andrew Miller put up quality starts for the Red Sox and wondering if Scott Olsen is available. Clearly starting pitching depth has been an issue this year. Despite my daily pleadings to every deity ever conjured up, Josh Johnson’s durability is questionable. Javier Vazquez will probably not be back, Brad Hand is a work in progress, and Clay Hensley is a converted reliever. There will be at least one spot open in the rotation next year (barring a free agent signing, but we are talking about the Marlins here). Who do we have in the system who will step up?
Below is a general survey of the starting pitching landscape in the Marlins’ farm system. There are no top tier prospects ready to make the jump just yet, but there are useful arms for the short term, and some talent is moving up through the pipeline.
Friends in Low Places: Familiar faces, the somewhat known commodities; guys who have logged major league innings
Chris Volstad – At the tender age of 24, Volstad already has 94 major league starts under his belt. He has actually improved his walk rate over each of the last 4 years, however this has been offset by a similarly steady increase in BABIP allowed and far too many fly balls leaving the park. Currently down in AAA to try to work out the kinks, he will definitely be back in the rotation by opening day in the new ballpark.
Elih Villanueva – A 27th round pick in 2008, he cruised through the system and put up solid numbers in a full season at AA Jacksonville in 2010. The wheels fell off this year at AAA New Orleans, thanks to doubling his walk rate. He made a spot start in June and fared no better in the show, giving up 8 runs in 3 innings to the Phillies. He will have to show he can throw strikes to AAA hitters before he will get another shot in the bigs.
Alex Sanabia – He got the call-up in the second half last year and pitched well, posting a 3.65 FIP in 72 and a third innings for the Marlins. He began this year injured with soreness in his pitching elbow and just began pitching this year in the minors, an unfortunate setback for a guy who was establishing a role as a possible back of the rotation starter.
Sean West – Do you remember when West started 20 games in 2009? Well, he is off the map now and should no longer be considered a starting pitching prospect. He will languish down in AAA until he can cut the walks and improve that 1.35 KK/BB ratio.
Graham Taylor – He made 3 starts in 2009 and walked 12 batters in 11 innings; he then missed all of 2010 due to injury. A 27-year-old in AA, I should not have wasted two lines mentioning him.
Chris Sampson – The Marlins signed the 33-year-old right hander to a minor league deal in April. Sampson appeared in 174 games for the Astros from 2006-10. In 14 starts for AAA New Orleans this year he has a 4.69 FIP. At this point he is just providing organizational depth, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a start or two in September. Desperation is a stinky cologne.
We Got Next: These are the starters in AAA and AA who may or may not turn out to be more relevant than the WNBA.
Tom Koehler – He and Villanueva were a strong 1-2 punch atop the rotation for AA Jacksonville last year, where he struck out an impressive 8.22 per nine. Unfortunately, just like Villanueva he has struggled mightily at AAA this year. He will have to cut his 4.89 BB/9 in half if he wants a shot next year.
Omar Poveda – One the players received from Texas in the Jorge Cantu trade, he has recovered from last year’s Tommy John surgery last to put up a 4.28 ERA in 23 starts at AA Jacksonville. Considering he was traded for Jorge Cantu, anything we get out of him is gravy.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel: A tier of his own for the Marlins top pitching prospect
Chad James – The top arm in the Marlins minor league system, James was the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The 6’3” 20-year-old lefty has put up a 3.43 ERA (in line with his 3.55 FIP) in 23 starts at high-A Jupiter, despite losing his first 13 straight decisions. He missed time 2010 due to a sore shoulder but seems on track to open up at AA next year. I would expect for him to see some big league action next year, if only a cup of coffee. He projects to be a #2-3 starter by 2014.
Going Deeper: Players to keep your eye on for the long term
Rob Rasmussen – This 5’10” lefty, a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft, is probably the second best arm in the system.
Edgar Olmos – A third lefty making starts at high-A Jupiter (behind James and Rasmussen); 2009 3rd round pick.
Matthew Montgomery – The 6’4” righty has looked strong at all 3 levels of A ball; 2009 10th round pick.
Josh Hodges – The 6’7” righty made Keith Law’s top 10 Marlins prospects; 2009 7th round pick.
Big Bucket of Fail: Blowing its first round picks can set back a franchise for years. The Marlins selected pitchers with their first round pick each year from 2002 to 2005. Here are the results (WARNING: not for the squeamish):
2002: Jeff Allison – Tragically struggled for years with substance abuse and was out of baseball for two years; he has never pitched a major league inning and is currently at AA Jacksonville
2003: Taylor M Tankersley – Made 168 major league relief appearances from 2006 – 2010; walked 70 batters in 118 innings; signed a minor league deal with the Mets this year
2004: Jacob L Marceaux – Never pitched a major league inning; currently out of baseball (bonus point: I’ve never even heard of this guy)
2005: Brett A Sinkbeil – Made three major league relief appearances in 2010 and walked 5 batters in 2 innings; he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates after being released by the Marlins this year
Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are under contract through 2013. Anibal Sanchez has one more year of team control. I still believe Chris Volstad will figure it out and be a decent major leaguer. Brad Hand has had his timetable accelerated due to the Marlins’ immediate needs, and while we will see growing pains I think he can be a viable back-end starter. If just one of Elih Villanueva, Alex Sanabia, Tom Koehler, or Omar Poveda pans out, and Chad James becomes what we will all hope he will, then the Marlins will have a solid starting rotation for the next couple years. Now everyone go make an offering to Jobu and pray for JJ’s shoulder.
Your daily Marlins Minor League report…
Double-A Jacksonville (in 6-2 win over Montgomery)
Nothing extremely special took place in the Jacksonville’s victory over Montgomery. Although Kyle Skipworth again struggled at the plate, something that’s not the least bit unusual for him. Aside from going 0-2 at the plate, he dropped his average down to .198 for the year. He’s got plenty of work to do but only being 20 years of age means he’s still got some time. There were, however, a few bright spots which you’d obviously expect from the winning team. The intriguing and heartwarming story of newly-turned pitcher Chris Hatcher was displayed again tonight. The right-hander, who’s been enjoying a fine season on the mound struck out two batters in an inning of work while not walking anybody. In addition, former Tigers pitcher Zach Simons struck out three in two innings of relief while not allowing a batter to reach base via the base on balls.
High-A Jupiter (in 6-1 loss to St. Lucie)
Fortunately for the Marlins, despite their farm being amongst the emptiest in the game, there have been quite a few bright spots. One of which is outfielder Kyle Jensen who despite being 23 years of age and in High-A has put on quite a showing this season with the bat. In 361 at-bats on the year he sports a .313/.389/.548 line and has even belted 21 home runs. He strikes out way too much and is basically all bat, thus he isn’t that much of a prospect. It’s unclear what the Marlins ongoing plans for him will be, but we know he can hit, which most hitters in the organization cannot say.
Low-A Greensboro (in 1-0 loss to West Virginia)
Wow, that’s a tough one to lose. I guess it’s a good thing that minor league scores and records mean absolutely nothing. It really wasn’t a bad day for the Greensboro hitters. Marcell Ozuna collected two more hits, Christian Yelich one and same goes for Mark Canha. Good day’s for the three best hitters on the Grasshoppers. Robert Morey, a right-handed starter with fringe stuff fared out well too, pitching seven scoreless striking out basically a batter per inning while only walking one.
Bryan Evans assigned to Double-A Jacksonville from High-A Jupiter
A.J. Battisto also assigned to High-A Jupiter from Double-A Jacksonville
Holden Sprague assigned to Low-A Greensboro from Low-A SS Jamestown
Dallas Poulk has been activated from the 7-day DL and re-assigned to High-A Jupiter
Some Minor League updates from Monday’s games…
AA Jacksonville (in 9-3 loss to Montgomery)
Jose Alvarez: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 91-57 P/S
A diminutive left-hander, Alvarez has continued to impress this season despite a rough Double-A stint in which his ERA has jumped to the 5.00′s. Even with recent struggles, it’s 30 innings pitched and his stuff hasn’t seemingly or suddenly disappeared. Thus he’s maintaining a solid walk rate and racking up a nice strikeout total (basically eight per nine innings throughout the season) even while getting hit around in the Southern League. Ever since his Boston days, I’ve always believed Alvarez is best suited for a potential bullpen role at the Major League level, especially being left-handed and only standing 5’11/155.
High-A Jupiter (in 4-3 loss to Daytona)
Jeff Dominguez: 2-4 with two home runs, three RBI’s and a walk
He’s extremely old for the level (25), doesn’t get on-base and most importantly isn’t your typical shortstop. At least defensively. But Jeff Dominguez certainly might have a career as a backup infielder or even fourth outfielder as long if he continues to hit. He’s got some speed and a pretty good arm but needs to get out of Jupiter, and quite fast I might add, if the Marlins have any hopes of Dominguez potentially making an impact.
Alfredo Lopez: 0-4 with two strikeouts
It doesn’t take a genius for one to realize that an 0-4 night isn’t overwhelmingly good, but Lopez is an intriguing little player which is why I wanted to discuss him. He wasn’t spectacular in Jamestown, but he’s toolsy as hec and has made lots of progress with the bat since being drafted in 2010. He’s a second-baseman who plays the position well and has real quick feet, which obviously gives him better range. He’s got a decent arm, one that isn’t strong but will definitely keep him at second-base. He doesn’t project to get much taller than he already is, but he might gain a few more pounds of muscle. He’s got nice bat speed and has shown lots of plate discipline since the move from Jamestown. Lopez doesn’t have much power but he makes contact real well and drives the ball, even if not our of the park.
Edgar Olmos: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
I’ve liked Edgar Olmos for a while, even since he was drafted. In fact, throughout the first few years of his Minor League career the reports have been solid, even if the stats haven’t. He was drafted in 2008 and still finds himself in High-A, but he was a high school pick so he’s still young. Alas, there really isn’t a rush either way. Olmos is left-handed, stands 6’5 and throws the ball on a downhill plain. He throws low-mid 90′s with a good curveball with some depth. However, he’s often been inconsistent with his velocity which has obviously caused him some bumps in the road. He’s got a good fastball with sink and has been known to challenge hitters, so he’s someone keep an eye on.
RHP Chris Squires assigned to Low-A Greensboro from High-A Jupiter
No injuries reported as of today
From the 31st of July, here are some updates from the so-called prospects that occupy the Marlins farm system…
High-A Jupiter (3-0 loss to Daytona)
Chad James: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K and lowered his ERA to 3.38
It’s been a slow road so far for the former 1st rounder. The change from pitching weekly to every fifth day has certainly taken it’s toll as James hasn’t had the velocity or arm speed that scouts dreamed on when watching him in his hometown high school in Yukon, OK. James, however, is pitching great this year and his stuff is starting to develop more swing-and-misses than ever before. He’s still only 20 years of age and while he’s improved, confidence seems to be playing a major role in his success as well.
Low-A Greensboro (13-1 loss to Savannah)
Noah Perio: 1-3 with a triple and a walk and raised his average up to .298
Although he’s only getting on base just 30% of the time, Perio has shown decent plate approach this season with an improved eye at the plate. Although he lacks power, he hits the ball to all fields and has pretty good speed. He’s a second baseman by definition, and many see him potentially remaining on the right side of the diamond despite some troubles with the glove.
Marcell Ozuna: 0-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts. Lowered his average to .243
Ozuna has a very wild swing and one that has been known to often flail at almost anything. He has terrible discipline, but doesn’t whiff at balls in his happy zone. He has above average power and might even be able to make a case for most raw power in the organization. Over his last 550 or so at-bats, Ozuna has 38 home runs. For a hitter having played in Jamestown and Greensboro over that span, that amount of power is extremely rare. To put that in to context, most New York Penn Leaguers don’t eclipse the 15 home run plateau since they are often raw and not advanced but also to the fact that the Penn League lasts just over two months. Ozuna hit 22 last year and 16 so far this year with yet another month to go.
Christian Yelich: 0-2 with a strikeout
Yelich hasn’t disapointed one bit. Having been selected in the first round last year by the Fish, Yelich is already showing why the Marlins scouts were spot on with their expectations of him. While he’s still got plenty of years to go (which includes even more development), he’s easily the best prospect currently in the system and it’s scary to imagine what kind of progression he’ll display as he rises through the system. Yelich has a quick bat with total z0ne control and even some pop, qualities that certainly lack elsewhere in the Marlins system.
Low-A Jamestown (11-5 loss to Staten Island)
Marquise Cooper: 3-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI
Marquise was one of the guys I projected bigtime coming out of the 2009 draft. I loved the tools, and while things haven’t turned out to be what some had expected thus far, he’s still young with tons to dream on. While a raw and currently lousy baserunner, Cooper has tons of speed and gets up the line rather quick. The bat is far and may not even ever make it’s way to a Major League lineup, but the bat speed is there. He’s toolsy and the odds are against him, but Marquise Cooper has shown glimpses of what could be a fine Major League ballplayer. Tonight was one of those nights.
Here’s what I had to say. I wrote this up on my New York Penn League blog:
Here we go, it’s that time again. In this edition, we discuss the Jamestown Jammers, the Marins Penn League affiliate. You know, I’ve always considered the Jammers to be a fun team to scout. They posess lots of high ceiling guys, and that’s what you should expect from an affiliated team this low of a level. With that, they usually suck, and suck big time, but hey, that’s actually a good thing.
Last season, Marcell Ozuna and his raw and uppercut power swing put on a show. Ozuna led the NYPL in homers. However, he wasn’t the only Jammer to impress scouts (and yours truly). Zach Neal, Josh Hodges, Jeremy Heatley, Ryan Fisher, and Mark Canha also persuaded me to open up my scouting eyes a bit more. Each is now at a higher level (with the exception of Hodges), but not to be forgotten. So, should I shut up now so we can take a look at the roster? Sounds good…
- Blake Brewer
- Alfredo Buret
- Albaro Estevez
- Josh Hodges
- Matthew Neil
- Thomas Peale
- Curtis Petersen
- Helpi Reyes
- Stephen Richards
- Chris Squires
- Tyler Topp
- Kenneth Toves
- Jose Urena
- Charles Wier
- Jose Behar
- Dallas Hord
- Jobduan Morales
- Eddie Rodriguez
- Terrence Dayleg
- Ryan Goetz
- Alfredo Lopez
- Todd Muecklisch
- Rony Peralta
- Yefri Perez
- Viosergy Rosa
- Aaron Senne
- Nestor Castillo
- Da’Shon Cooper
- Brent Keys
- Ryan McIntyre
- Rand Smith
Going off things I’ve heard, Da’Shon Cooper is my favorite offensive player of the bunch. He has wheels, and lots of ‘em. More importantly, he has good outfield range, a solid arm, and is decent on the bases. Thus he puts that speed to good use. He has a lousy plate approach, however, and might be a road block going forward. He’s really young and has plenty of time to sort things out defensively, but whether that will happen is a different story.
Another guy I like is Yefri Perez, a slender Dee Gordon like (with the body, that is) shortstop with some speed and a good level swing. He’s more of a slasher, I think, but is really, really young and has all the time in the world to figure things out. He spent last year in the DSL where he progressed a ton, and looks to do the same this year facing the western half of New York teams.