Featured Photo: Connor Scott, CF, Marlins
State of the System
- The fire sale of Miami’s major league roster has infused a once-stagnant pipeline with serious prospect depth. High-ranking players like OF Monte Harrison (#72 on our Midseason Top 125 Prospect List this July), RHP Sandy Alcantara (#44 midseason prospect), 2B Isan Diaz (#111 on the list), RHP Jorge Guzman, and RHP Nick Neidert all were added in trades.
- A tendency to go for high-ceiling athletes in the draft has lead to some whiffs on early picks the last few years, though prospects like LHP Trevor Rogers, 3B James Nelson, SS Joe Dunand, RHP Colton Hock, OF Thomas Jones, and OF Brian Miller have emerged as prospects from past classes. LHP Braxton Garrett looked excellent before requiring Tommy John surgery in 2017, and he’ll give the system a boost once he’s healthy again next year. Though he was signed as an international amateur and not through the draft, RHP Edward Cabrera is another prospect who should be mentioned among the top homegrown players already in the system.
- Early returns from the pro debuts of 2018 draftees were positive, and the Marlins weren’t shy about pushing their highly-drafted picks to full-season ball. 4th round selection OF Tristan Pompey erased questions about the pro-readiness of his hit tool, dominating Class A competition and reaching High A Jupiter by season’s end. OF Connor Scott (#13 overall), SS Osiris Johnson (#53 overall), and C Will Banfield (#69 overall) all showed upside despite some struggles as teenagers against older competition in Class A.
- While not an elite farm system, Miami has a nice mix of future pieces both high and low in the pipeline. Most of their hitters are of the power/speed variety with questionable hit tools, and while that demographic is a variable one, they’ve stacked enough quantity that at least a few position prospects should pan out. The Marlins will pick early in the 2019 MLB Draft and be awarded large domestic and international bonus pools, giving plenty of opportunities to continue adding to a system that’s trending in the right direction.
Connor Scott, OF, Marlins (Class A Greensboro, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/180 lbs. B/T: L/L Age (as of September 1, 2018): 18y, 10m
Scott was the Marlins’ first pick (#13 overall) this past June, and they’ve challenged him with a promotion to Class A Greensboro despite some early struggles in the Rookie Gulf Coast League. Scott looked overmatched at times across a recent four-game look against pitchers that were up to five years his senior, but an extremely projectable and well-rounded set of raw tools still showed through.
Osiris Johnson, SS, Marlins (Class A Greensboro, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/180 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 17y, 10m
Miami hasn’t historically shied away from athletic, raw, toolsy high school hitters in the draft, no matter how long they might take to develop. Johnson fits right in line with that mold. Still 17-years-old, he’s extremely young for this draft class—making it all the more remarkable the Marlins chose to challenge him with an assignment to Class A Greensboro to finish his first pro season. Johnson looked badly overmatched against much older pitching in the South Atlantic League in a recent look, though the loud offensive tools showed through.
Johnson’s 6-foot, 180-pound frame has advanced strength throughout, barrel-chested with a powerful core and room to add muscle across the upper half. He whips the barrel through the zone with plus bat speed, generating explosive loud contact when he squares up his pitch. The physicality and raw power jump off the page, but there’s a long way to go before he’s able to reliably get to his power into games. He’s a present 20-grade hitter—though that isn’t fully damning given his age—whose lack of experience against advanced pitching shows up when he sees an off-speed pitch. An aggressive hitter early in counts, Johnson consistently expands the zone and swings himself out of at-bats without making pitchers challenge him for a strike. There’s limited pitch recognition and strike zone awareness right now, and Johnson’s overall feel and instincts looked raw. Defensively, he signed as a shortstop but looks like a candidate to move to third base. Johnson’s broad frame likely outgrows the position, and is hands and footwork are below average at short.
Johnson’s youth and blend of offensive upside and current rawness make him a quintessential risk/reward player. He’s 4+ years from being major-league ready, and he should be viewed as a long-burn prospect, though one who could fit the profile of a third baseman if his contact ability and approach catch up with the power potential. -Adam McInturff
Will Banfield, C, Marlins (Class A Greensboro, South Atlantic League)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200 lbs. B/T: R/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 18y, 9m
Banfield was the 69th overall pick in this June’s draft, and he passed on his Vanderbilt commitment to take a well over-slot $1.8M million bonus from the Marlins. Advanced defense at catcher with some power potential were Banfield’s calling cards as an amateur, and he showed both of those skills across a three-game look in August.
Unlike many prep catching prospects, there’s little doubt that Banfield will remain at the position. His 6-foot, 200-pound frame is strong and compact, well-built to handle the physical rigors of catching. He sets low, quiet targets and shows agile blocking ability and an idea how to frame pitches. Banfield’s actual receiving was a bit stiff and stabby at times, but nothing looked too severe, and he projects to clean up his hands at catcher with more pro reps. The arm is easily above average, if not plus, and though I didn’t see it challenged much, there’s strong carry through the target with polished footwork and good accuracy.
At the plate, Banfield’s muscularity and aggressive uphill swing produce power at the expense of contact. He’s strong enough to drive a mistake over the plate, and his three home runs through 40 plate appearances with Greensboro show that he will have no issue getting to his pop against low-minors pitching. That said, Banfield’s pitch recognition and selectivity need significant improvement to hit in pro ball, as he frequently expands the zone and whiffs badly through secondary pitches. It isn’t a shock to see an 18-year-old looked overmatched against full-season pitching, but he’s a 20-grade hitter right now and will take time to develop more contact ability.
Especially as a catching prospect, Banfield will take time. He might always come with strikeouts and lower batting averages, but the ingredients are here for a solid everyday backstop if he can tap into his power. Banfield’s polished defensive tools are enough, however, to get him to the big leagues even if the bat stalls out. -Adam McInturff
Isan Diaz, 2B, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville, Southern League)
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/185 lbs. B/T: L/R Age (as of September 1, 2018): 22y, 3m
Diaz was drafted from high school by the Diamondbacks in 2014’s Comp Round, and is now on his third organization after being involved in a pair of trades. Arizona dealt him and other prospects to the Brewers for SS Jean Segura in 2016, and Diaz was traded again in the deal that sent OF Christian Yelich from Miami to Milwaukee this off-season. I saw him over a series in July, after numerous 2017 viewings when Diaz was still a Brewers farmhand.
Diaz is a patient hitter who takes walks and works deep into counts. This also leads to some strikeouts, as seeing pitches ultimately leads to more two-strike situations. He doesn’t shorten up when behind and shows fringy contact ability versus spin, things that also contribute to the present whiffs. Diaz projects as a future 45-grade hit tool for me, one who could add to that grade only if he sacrificed some of his game power. He has juice in the bat for a smaller player, with 45-grade raw power that shows up to the pullside and sprays the gaps with hard contact. The game power projects to 45, meaning Diaz shows the upside of a 12-15 HR bat with plenty of doubles. Defensively, Diaz is limited to second base because of a below-average arm, but his actions and glovework at the keystone grade above-average. He ranges well to the hole and shows soft hands. Average speed rounds out the profile; though he isn’t a burner, Diaz has the timing and baserunning instincts to swipe the occasional base.
An instinctual player who plays hard and with fire, Diaz grows on you over multiple looks. He’s the type of player that backs up a solid toolset with an awareness of the little things–finishing plays defensively, taking an extra base, or showing situational awareness and feel at the plate. The sum-of-the-parts gives a FV 50 ceiling, a second-division everday player at second base. Diaz is close to big league ready, only needing to develop more of a two-strike approach before being able to contribute to a rebuilding Marlins club. -John Eshleman
- Trevor Rogers, LHP, Marlins (Class A Greensboro) -Adam McInturff
- Monte Harrison, OF, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville) -John Eshleman
- Edward Cabrera, RHP, Marlins (Class A Greensboro) -Adam McInturff
- Joe Dunand, SS, Marlins (Double-A Jacksonville) -Steve Givarz
- Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins (High A Jupiter) -Steve Givarz
Other Marlins Prospects
|Vincenzo Aiello||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Sandy Alcantara||RHP||MLB||Miami (MLB)||Video|
|Lazaro Alonso||1B||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Cameron Baranek||OF||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Nestor Bautista||LHP||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Taylor Braley||RHP||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Jeff Brigham||RHP||MLB||Miami (MLB)||Video||Report|
|Daniel Castano||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Samuel Castro||2B||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Ethan Clark||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Esmerling De La Rosa||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Jose Devers||SS||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Colton Hock||RHP||Class A||Greensboro||Video||Report|
|Reilly Hovis||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Thomas Jones||OF||Class A||Greensboro||Video||Report|
|Kyle Keller||RHP||Triple-A||New Orleans||Video|
|Aaron Knapp||OF||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Garvis Lara||SS/INF||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Dylan Lee||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Ryan Lillie||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Riley Mahan||2B||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Alejandro Mateo||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Ryan McKay||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Michael Mertz||RHP||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|J.C. Milan||3B||High A||Jupiter||Video|
|Brandon Miller||RHP||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Sam Perez||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Brady Puckett||RHP||High A||Jupiter||Video||Report|
|Jarrett Rindfleisch||C||High A||Jupiter||Report|
|Marcos Rivera||SS||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Isael Soto||OF||Class A||Greensboro||Video|
|Zach Sullivan||OF||High A||Jupiter||Video|