Though the Marlins still grade out as a middle-of-the-pack farm system, there have been clear efforts to restock a pipeline that was among the league’s worst a few years ago. This list is littered with prospects returned in trades, a result of the team’s aggressive selling at the Major League level since last off-season. The Marlins added even more high-ceiling prospects through trade this February, acquiring (#1) Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart (On the Horizon) along with current Major League piece Jorge Alfaro in exchange for franchise catcher J.T. Realmuto. Miami didn’t shy away from its standard prep-heavy, risk/reward draft philosophy in 2018, infusing the system with homegrown talent that it needed badly. 2018 draftees (#9) Connor Scott, (#13) Osiris Johnson, and (#14) Will Banfield feature prominently on this list, while homegrown prospects already in the system like (#11) Edward Cabrera, Jordan Holloway (Pure Projection), and Trevor Rogers (Pure Projection) all took enthusing steps forward last season. The recent signing of (#5) Victor Victor Mesa added an advanced prospect near the top of the list, and the system also stands to get a boost from the return of (#10) Braxton Garrett, Miami’s first-rounder in 2016 who missed all of last year with injury.
Things have to break right for this to happen, but because the Marlins have focused on so many high-ceiling prospects (sometimes at the expense of foreseeable risk), there’s a scenario where this system yields more quality big leaguers than many anticipate. We’re higher on this system than the consensus as a result, especially after the fruits of the J.T. Realmuto trade added two more intriguing players to Miami’s farm. (#1) Sixto Sanchez, (#2) Monte Harrison, (#3) Sandy Alcantara, and (#8) Jorge Guzman have impact upside, and we see (#9) Connor Scott and (#10) Braxton Garrett as having FV 55 potential as well. There are a good number of prospects on this list with FV 50+ ceilings, they’re just high on the risk spectrum and numerous years from being ready.
Miami is clearly in full rebuild mode, so giving playing time to prospects will be a priority. (#3) Sandy Alcantara has already debuted in Miami, and (#7) Zac Gallen arguably could have seen big league time last year. Both righties could step into rotation roles next season, potentially joined by (#6) Nick Neidert sometime late in the year or in 2020. For a system that isn’t regarded among the league’s best, it’s impressive that the Marlins will foreseeably graduate three arms to the Major League rotation over the next two years.
–YOUTH AND RISK
Past the top six on this list, the better prospects in Miami’s system are mostly high-upside teenage players in the FV 50/Extreme Risk tier. There are a number of players who could keep the system afloat after it graduates (#2) Monte Harrison, (#3) Sandy Alcantara, (#4) Isan Diaz, and others in 2019/2020, but that also means Miami is counting on plenty of high-risk prospects that are far from ready. In this way, players like (#15) Bryson Brigman, Brian Miller (On the Horizon), and Jeff Brigham (On the Horizon) might have a bit more value than they would elsewhere as high-floor FV 45s.
TOP 15 PREF LIST
|5||Victor Victor Mesa||OF||50||Moderate||2020|
CREAM OF THE CROP
(#1) Sixto Sanchez, RHP
Ceiling: 60 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: Frontline Starter (#2/#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 185 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 8m
Sanchez was the key prospect in this off-season’s J.T. Realmuto deal, the centerpiece of Philadelphia’s package to the Marlins. He’s one of the highest-ceiling arms in the minors and could jump into top-20 overall prospect consideration with a healthy 2019. Sanchez tuned 20 in the middle of last season, dominating older competition in the Advanced A Florida State League until an elbow inflammation shut him down in July. He was going to make up the lost time in Fall League but missed that due to injury as well, a late scratch from Scottsdale’s roster due to neck and collarbone issues. At his best, Sanchez locates a high-90s heater with heavy run. It’s a blow-by pitch that induces weak groundball contact. A sharp curve and changeup both are future plus pitches, and a slider gives a fourth look to keep hitters honest. What’s most impressive is his ability limit walks for a power arm, something that leaves little doubt about his ability to remain a starter provided he can handle the workload. The durability concerns that stem from Sanchez’ injury history and shorter frame are the only questions he faces entering 2019. We see his ceiling as a #2/#3 type starter.
(#2) Monte Harrison, OF
Ceiling: 60 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2020 Role Description: Potential All-Star
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 220 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 7m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Report #1 | Report #2
Harrison is a freaky athlete with a rare mix of size, strength, and speed. He has legitimate five-tool potential presuming he’s able to make enough contact to tap into massive raw power. Miami sent him to Fall League to work through some swing tweaks, and the results were largely positive as he took out a disruptive leg kick trigger. There’s more risk than many top prospects of his caliber, but Harrison’s lofty ceiling is worth being patient for.
(#3) Sandy Alcantara, RHP
Alcantara showed glimpses of his considerable upside across six starts with the big league club last year. His control and pitchability must continue to refine, but the swing-and-miss stuff is here to impact a rotation. The best-case outcome is a power mid-rotation starter who racks up gaudy strikeout totals on the strength of a high-90s fastball, above-average curve, and workable changeup. There’s some reliever risk, but he showed us enough last year that we’re in on Alcantara the starter. Expect to see him vying for time in the Major League rotation in 2019.
ON THE HORIZON
(#4) Isan Diaz, 2B
Diaz is a solid all-round player with patience and feel to hit at the plate. He’s able to drive the gaps and has occasional power, showing surprising juice in the bat for a smaller player. His arm limits him to 2B, but Diaz is a strong defender there with above-average lateral quickness and soft hands. He projects as an everyday regular at the keystone and is close to contributing at the big league level.
(#5) Victor Victor Mesa, OF
Ceiling: 50 Risk: Moderate ETA: 2020 Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 165 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: N/A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 8m
The Marlins inked Mesa early this offseason, bestowing a $5.25 million bonus upon the talented outfielder while simultaneously signing his younger brother, Victor Mesa, Jr., for $1 million. The elder Mesa, who will turn 23 this upcoming summer, boasts an above-average glove in center field to go with double-plus speed on the grass and an above-average arm. At the plate, Mesa shows good feel for contact but limited pop. Proponents view Mesa as a potential table-setter who could rack up some extra bases to the gaps even if the over-the-fence power is limited. Skeptics view the light pop as a tough hurdle to overcome, as big league arms will undoubtedly attack Mesa aggressively until he proves a legit extra-base threat, which could cut heavily into his on-base production. No one disputes his potential as an above-average up-the-middle defender who should be a net positive force on the bases. He profiles as a likely solid average everyday contributor with in-game power development likely spelling the difference between a lead-off stick or down order contributor.
(#6) Nick Neidert, RHP
The 60th overall pick in 2015 from a Georgia high school, Neidert was one of three prospects Seattle sent the Marlins for Dee Gordon in December of 2017. He flourished in his first season in Miami’s system and was named a league all-star at mid-season for the second straight year. His low-90s fastball can scrape the 95-to-96 mph range at best, but he prefers to pitch down at 91-92 mph and rely on his above-average armside run. His best off-speed is a mid-80s changeup with excellent sell and separation, though feel to add and subtract from a slurvy breaking ball also plays that pitch to average. With a bevy of pitches in the 50 to 55 range and plus control, Neidert projects as a solid back-rotation starter and could fill that role soon.
(#7) Zac Gallen, RHP
Ceiling: 50 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 190 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 7m
Gallen thrived last year in his first season as a Marlins’ farmhand, pitching to a 3.65 ERA across 25 Triple-A starts and being named a Pacific Coast League all-star. Miami acquired him along with three other prospects in the deal that sent Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis in December of 2017. He’s ready to step into a rotation role in the big leagues, profiling as a back-rotation type who could compete for innings in a rebuilding Marlins rotation at some point next year.
(#8) Jorge Guzman, RHP
Ceiling: 55 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2020 Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 180 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 2m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight
Guzman might be able to lay claim to the hardest throwing starter in the minors. He holds 98-to-100 mph on his fastball deep into outings, affording him some leeway in terms of in-zone command. His power slurve comes in at 85-to-88 mph with hybrid shape somewhere between a curve and slider, but it’s a potential miss-bat pitch with sharpness and depth. Guzman is working on his third pitch and control, and the development of those aspects will determine whether his future is in the rotation or bullpen. The best-case ceiling is a power mid-rotation starter, though it’s easy to see Guzman fitting as a back-of-the-bullpen relief arm if he ultimately needs a fallback.
(#15) Bryson Brigman, 2B
In a system littered with risk/reward prospects, Brigman’s foreseeable profile and relatively high floor give him more value than he might have in another organization. He’s a plus gloveman at either middle infield spot, though limited arm-strength makes him a better fit at 2B long-term. Brigman makes a ton of contact and hits for average, though there’s very little power and he might not have enough offensive impact to profile as a regular. The realistic ceiling is a quality utility player that does the small things and can move around the infield in a spot-starting role.
Brian Miller, OF
Like (#15) Bryson Brigman, Miller’s floor and polished skill set give him value in a Marlins system that’s very young, toolsy, and wrought with high-risk prospects. Miller’s best attributes are his contact ability and stolen base acumen, though that speed doesn’t fully translate to CF. He’s a best-case lower-end regular if he can stay up the middle, though there’s a chance his lack of a true plus tool—without almost any ability to hit for power—causes Miller to wind up more of a tweener. We see a solid fourth outfielder who can do a lot of things for a big league club in a versatile bench role.
Jeff Brigham, RHP
Brigham’s floor is more attractive than his ceiling, but he’s ready to help the big league club now and figures to be in Miami’s pitching mix in 2019. The 26-year-old righty has seen Major League action in each of the last two years but hasn’t had much success at the highest level. Brigham’s fastball works in the 92-to-95 mph range and is backed up by a decent curve. His iffy changeup might get in the way of him fitting a true back-rotation profile, but he could step into a swingman or long relief role right away.
Riley Ferrell, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Setup Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 200 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 5m
Ferrell was the top ‘pen arm in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, going to Miami with the fourth overall pick of the Major League Phase. His high-90s fastball and hard slider give the ceiling of a setup reliever if he’s able to cut his walk rates down.
Joe Dunand, SS/3B
Dunand had a tough first crack at Double-A last year (.212/.276/.369), though he was 22 at the time and only playing his first full professional season. He played SS in college and has stayed at the position as a pro, though there’s a high likelihood Dunand winds up at the hot corner. He’ll need to show more power to profile as a regular if he moves down the defensive spectrum. Dunand will get another crack at Double-A next year and enters 2019 with pressure to perform in order to maintain prospect status.
Colton Hock, RHP
Hock has split time between the rotation and ‘pen as a pro, but his two-pitch mix and aggressive mound presence profile best in relief long-term. The fastball sits in the mid-90s and his hard 80-to-82 mph curve flashes bat-missing capacity. His ceiling is a setup reliever, though he’ll need to cut down the free passes in order to get the ball in leverage innings.
Merandy Gonzalez, RHP
Ceiling: 45 Risk: High ETA: 2018 Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 215 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: MLB Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 5m
Gonzalez was one of two prospects Miami returned from the Mets at the 2017 Trade Deadline for A.J. Ramos. Gonzalez made a few big league appearances last year from the ‘pen despite having worked as a starter throughout his pro career. He has good stuff–headlined by a fastball that touches 97 mph and a high-70s curveball–but struggles to miss bats in the rotation. Gonzalez is only 23 and there’s reason to project a bit given his youth and pitch mix. He could contribute at the big league level as a swingman or multi-inning reliever.
Jordan Yamamoto, RHP
Yamamoto could sneak into the #5 spot of a lesser rotation, though he likely fits as a swingman/spot-starter type for a contender. The crafty righty mixes four pitches for strikes, adding and subtracting from a low-90s fastball. His deceptive changeup with plus fade speeds up his fringy velocity a bit. He impressed in Fall League and has the pitchability to move quickly.
Robert Dugger, RHP
Dugger was one of three prospects the Marlins returned from Seattle in exchange for Dee Gordon. A small-ish righty with plus pitchability but iffy stuff, he fills the zone aggressively with a deep mix of fringy pitches. No one aspect carries the profile enough to project as a regular rotation piece, but Dugger profiles as a high-floor type that could fill a longman or middle innings role soon.
Tommy Eveld, RHP
Eveld’s ceiling is just a middle reliever, though he’s close to ready and comes with a high floor. His bread-and-butter is a solid fastball/slider combo, working 92-to-95 mph on the heater with the life to induce weak contact. His mid-80s slider has long cut-like tilt that shows late, playing as a quality pitch.
Kyle Keller, RHP
Keller pitched at three levels in 2018, finishing last year in Triple-A before heading to Fall League. The Marlins added him to their 40-Man Roster after the season to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He’s a power-armed reliever with a two-pitch mix, equipped with a 93-to-97 mph fastball and hard slider. Keller’s raw stuff is enough for a leverage ‘pen role, but continued control issues likely limit the degree he can be trusted with runners on late in games. If he can throw enough strikes, Keller has the tools to factor in to Miami’s bullpen mix in the near future as a middle reliever.
Chad Smith, RHP
Smith has plenty of gas, sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball and touching 98 mph at best. His command is below-average at present and will need to improve another half-grade to play in the bigs, catching too much plate or missing frequently to his armside. Smith’s cut-like 86-to-88 mph slider is an effective pitch when he’s able to get up in the count by throwing his fastball for strikes. He could be a middle reliever if he can take another step forward in the control department.
Brady Puckett, RHP
A 15th round pick from Libscomb in 2017, Puckett put himself on the prospect map with a strong first full pro season last year. The extra-tall righty doesn’t overpower with any pitch but has surprising control and feel for a 6-foot-8 hurler. He commands an 88-to-91 mph fastball that gets steep natural angle, mixing three off-speed pitches headlined by an average high-70s curve. Both his slider and changeup are fringy, and despite solid strike-throwing ability, Puckett’s stuff is likely short for a true back-rotation profile. He projects as a long reliver/mopup type, albeit one that’s polished enough to move through Miami’s system quickly.
Jordan Milbrath, RHP
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2019 Role Description: Situational Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’6” / 215 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: AAA Age (as of April 1, 2019): 27y, 8m
Miami acquired Milbrath in a trade with Cleveland for Nick Wittgren in February of 2019. Milbrath reached Triple-A for the first time last season, struggling with his control once he got there. He’s a ground-ball specialist, inducing soft contact on a turbo mid-90s sinker that touches 97 mph. A mid-80s slider is a fringy pitch, causing him to miss less bats than his velocity suggests. Milbrath isn’t quite prospect-aged at 27-years-old, but he’s a near-ready piece that has a chance to pitch low-leverage innings for the rebuilding Marlins. His ceiling is a matchup righty who can get a ground ball in the middle innings, though he’ll need to cut down the walks in order to get there.
Taylor Braley, RHP
Braley’s sinker/slider mix looks capable of profiling as a middle reliever on his best nights, though he looked gassed by the end of the season and doesn’t have much margin for error. Miami’s sixth-rounder in 2017, Braley worked exclusively as a starter across 103.1 innings in Class A last year but fits a bullpen profile given his squat frame and two pitch approach. He could move quickly if the Marlins shift him to a relief role higher up the ladder.
McKenzie Mills, LHP
Originally drafted by the Nationals in 2014, Mills spent time in the Phillies system before coming to Miami in an August waiver trade last season for 1B Justin Bour. He doesn’t have the stuff to start, but a funky left-handed delivery and good control give the ceiling of a long reliever or situational LOOGY. Mills doesn’t throw hard enough to have any margin for error, so there’s some chance he winds up a run-of-the-mill AAA arm if he can’t carve out a regular big league role.
Cason Sherrod, RHP
Sherrod was a money-saver taken in the 7th round last year, signing for just $20K out of Texas A&M. He’s a low-ceiling relief prospect who has some chance of moving quickly through the organization. Sherrod’s best pitch is a 92-to-95 mph sinker he backs up with an average mid-80s slider. The best-case scenario is a 6th or 7th inning ‘pen arm who racks up grounders and is tough on same-side hitters. The risk here is Sherrod’s stuff and profile simply being too generic once he reaches the high-minors, which would make him more of a AAA arm or 4A type.
(#9) Connor Scott, OF
Scott was the 13th overall pick in last year’s draft, and Miami challenged him with an assignment to Class A Greensboro to finish his pro debut. He’s a tall and athletic outfielder with a sweet left-handed swing and loads of physical projection. Scott has a knack for barreling balls, showing the loose hands and leverage to foresee more home run power developing as he gets stronger. Defensively, he’s able to play a strong CF despite his 6-foot-4 frame due to long strides and solid closing speed. Scott’s above-average arm will play on a corner if he ever outgrows the position. With at least four potentially above-average tools, Scott’s ceiling is a quality regular who the Marlins hope will play a prominent part in their rebuild, though he’s still numerous years away from the big leagues.
(#10) Braxton Garrett, LHP
Garrett was the consensus top prep lefty in the 2016 Draft, going to the Marlins with the 7th overall pick. He looked the part through four 2017 starts in Class A but required Tommy John surgery only four starts into his pro debut. Garrett was pitching in game action this fall during Instructs, showing basically the same stuff as before the injury, starting with a low-90s fastball. He keeps three pitches around the zone from a repeatable delivery that also allows advanced command. Garrett’s best off-speed is a high-70s curve that shows above-average action, and though it’s less used than his other two pitches, a mid-80s changeup has the makings of at least an average third as well. Garrett’s ceiling is a mid-rotation lefty, and he’ll have the chance to move even higher up this list if he can stay healthy for all of 2019.
(#11) Edward Cabrera, RHP
Ceiling: 50 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 175 lbs. B/T: R/R Highest Level: A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 11m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Report | Spotlight
Though Miami has always been high on Cabrera, he was a relative unknown on the national prospect scene until last year. That’s not the case anymore, as scouts and other organizations got a better look at him during his full-season Class A debut in 2018. Cabrera’s fastball sits at 94-to-95 mph and ranges up to 98 mph, showing above-average run with hard bore to the armside. He throws both his curveball (80-to-83 mph) and changeup (88-to-90 mph) hard, though both pitches have a chance to miss bats. He’s numerous years away, but the ceiling is very high.
(#12) Jose Devers, SS
One of the prospects acquired from the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, Devers spent most of last season as one of the youngest regulars in the South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old. He makes lots of contact and has plus speed, giving the offensive ceiling of a table setter who hits for average and wreaks havoc on the bases. Devers is undersized and has virtually no present ability to drive the ball; while there’s reason to project on his gap power, he’ll never be a home run threat. He’s above-average with the glove at shortstop, though a fringy present arm is stretched on challenge throws from the deep hole. Devers will only be 19 next year, so projecting on his arm such that he’ll stay at short long-term is reasonable. In the best-case scenario, he’ll wind up an everyday regular at a premium position. The glove, contact, and wheels allow more floor than most projection teenage prospects, giving fallback scenarios as a solid utility type off the bench.
(#13) Osiris Johnson, SS/3B
Johnson was one of the youngest players in the 2018 Draft class, turning 18 more than three months after signing. Considering that fact, especially, his torrid .301/.333/.447 line in the Gulf Coast League was even more impressive. Miami challenged Johnson with a late bump to Class A Greensboro, and while he understandably struggled there during a 23-game cameo, his loud tools showed through. He’s unlikely to remain at shortstop long-term but shows the offensive ingredients to still profile at a corner spot—potentially third base or somewhere in the outfield. Johnson has stellar batspeed and the offensive ingredients to produce average and power, though his approach is extra-raw and he’ll take time to develop any pitch recognition. Johnson is a long-burn prospect that’s likely at least four years away from helping the big league club, though his ceiling as an offensive-minded regular could be worth the wait.
(#14) Will Banfield, C
An advanced prep receiver, Banfield came off the board in the second round of last year’s First-Year Player draft and was challenged with just over 50 plate appearances in Class A Greensboro after getting his feet wet on the complex. Banfield is an advanced receiver with a strong catch-and-throw game, more closely resembling a collegiate backstop developmentally than your traditional prep catcher. The question for the former Vanderbilt commit will be whether he is able to make enough contact for his above-average raw power to play. Banfield struggled to make consistent hard contact leading up to the draft and struck out in over 33% of his plate appearances during his limited pro debut. His upside is that of an above-average defensive catcher with enough pop to slot into the six hole of a competitive lineup, but there’s a good amount of work to be done in order for him to get there.
Trevor Rogers, LHP
Rogers is a tough prospect to put in a defined bin. He was a first-round pick from high school in 2017 but was very old for the class, having already turned 21-years-old soon after the end of last season. The Marlins opted to hold him back at the complex for just under a full calendar year before spending the rest of last season with Class A Greensboro. Lefties with Rogers’ size and arm-strength (up to 96 mph) are rare, but there’s a long way to go in the control, command, and breaking ball departments. He has the tools to develop into a rotation regular but there is a ton of risk, and his age hints at less remaining projection than most recent prep draftees.
Sean Reynolds, 1B
Reynolds is among the most polarizing players in the minors. A surprisingly athletic 6-foot-7, his natural lever-length and swing leverage provides the basis for true 80-grade raw power. Reynolds can put the ball out to any part of the park and is strong enough to mishit balls the other way that still creep over the fence. The glaring issue is strikeouts, and for some perspective, he has never struck out in less than 40-percent of plate appearances as a professional. He will always swing and miss, though an advanced approach gives some hope Reynolds could walk enough buoy out the whiffs to some degree. He split time between the mound and first base as an amateur, and factoring in his age, there’s a chance parts of Reynolds’ offensive game bloom late. The best-case ceiling is a 30+ home run producer with a Chris Davis-esque statline, though there’s also a scenario in which he never hits enough for the power to play against upper-level competition.
Pompey entered the spring of his junior year at the University of Kentucky as a potential top-50 pick, though an up-and-down performance ultimately dropped him to the third round in last year’s draft. He surprised by immediately showing a pro-ready hit tool upon signing, reaching Advanced-A by season’s end. Pompey has a physical speed/power toolset, though his wheels don’t fully translate to the defensive side of the ball (he likely winds up in LF) and he doesn’t get to much power hitting right-handed. His max-ceiling is an everyday player, and while we aren’t closing the door on that, there’s a chance Pompey winds up a 4th outfielder. He will move into the top-15 range of Miami’s system if he can back up his pro debut with a strong 2019 season.
Will Stewart, LHP
Stewart was one of the prospects Miami acquired from the Phillies in exchange for J.T. Realmuto. The lefty is coming off a breakout 2018 season in the South Atlantic League, pitching to a sparking 2.04 ERA across 20 starts. Stewart’s deceptive delivery slings the ball from a low three-quarters slot, able to mix grips and get both run and cut on his fastball. The heater touches 93-to-94 mph at best but sits comfortably in the low-90s, projecting to work as a pitch to contact against better hitters. His best pitch is a mid-80s changeup, a potential 55-grade offering that baffled Class A hitters last year with its excellent sell and movement. Both a slider and curve grade as usable-to-average future pitches, giving Stewart a wide arsenal to keep hitters off-balance. He won’t miss many bats, but above-average pitchablity and control tie the profile together. We see Stewart as a potential back-rotation starter if his stuff proves to be impactful enough at the highest level.
Jordan Holloway, RHP
Holloway put himself back on the prospect radar with a strong showing during Instructional League this fall. He missed most of last year coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s all projection at this point, even as a 22-year-old, but considering his background (Colorado prep arm) and the missed time with injury, that’s a bit more understandable. Holloway’s fastball touches the 97-to-98 mph range and sits comfortably in the mid-90s, showing better movement and command when he pitches down at 92-to-94 mph. His power curve has above-average potential, flashing depth and sharp finish. It’s more likely he winds up in the ‘pen, as throwing strikes is still an issue and his other two pitches—a cutter and changeup—still are fairly crude.
Thomas Jones, OF
Jones is the epitome of a risk/reward prospect, one with tremendous physical gifts that is lacking in baseball polish. He can stay in CF despite a muscular 6-foot-4 frame if his routes improve, though an above-average arm is more than enough for RF if he does move down the defensive spectrum. Jones has the tools to be a big league outfielder, though he’ll have to make lots of gains in the hit tool department and is running out of time to convince scouts he’s capable of making contact. There’s tons of present swing/miss issues and he’s vulnerable against breaking pitches out of the zone. Jones enters 2019 with something to prove, needing to demonstrate he’s turning a corner offensively in order to remain on the prospect radar. He’ll be a toolsy high-org player if he can’t improve his approach and cut down on the whiffs.
James Nelson, SS/3B
Nelson broke out in 2017, a 15th round pick the year prior who was named to the South Atlantic League all-star team in his first full pro season. Unfortunately, 2018 was not as kind to him and was overall a year to forget. He wasn’t able to get on the field until June and never found a groove in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Nelson’s frame looked noticeably thicker during instructs, where he struggled to take good at-bats and remain composed on the field. Last season was understandably frustrating, and he’ll likely head back to the Florida State League with something to prove in 2019.
Christopher Torres, 2B
Ceiling: 45 Risk: Extreme ETA: 2021 Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 170 lbs. B/T: S/R Highest Level: A Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 1m
Torres was one of the prospects returned from Seattle in return for Dee Gordon. He opened some eyes with a strong first season as a Marlins prospect, though he’s struggled with injuries both as an amateur and pro. Torres can play either middle infield spot but profiles better at 2B long-term, showing the contact skills and plate discipline to potentially develop an average-or-better hit tool. He’s a borderline prospect that does a few things, though Torres must first prove he’s simply able to stay on the field before his stock can rise any further. His best-case ceiling is likely a solid utility type, but there’s plenty of risk and he’s far from a sure thing.
Riley Mahan, 2B
Ceiling: 40 Risk: High ETA: 2021 Role Description: Bench Player
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 185 lbs. B/T: L/R Highest Level: A+ Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 3m
Mahan’s upside as an offensive-minded infielder pushed him into 2017’s third round from the University of Kentucky, though he is yet to find a groove as a pro. He got hurt early in his pro debut last summer and struggled last year in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Mahan’s ceiling is a hit-first bench player, but he’ll need to turn a corner offensively to stay on the periphery of this list.
Nick Fortes, C
Fortes was the team’s fourth-rounder last year from Ole Miss. He has the makings of a backup catcher, with potentially average throw/glove tools and some strength-based raw power. There isn’t enough bat for everyday upside, nor is Fortes strong enough defensively to profile as a regular behind the plate.
Marcos Rivera, SS
Rivera is a muscular, athletic middle infielder with plus athleticism and arm-strength. He’s much broader than his 160-pound listing and looks too bulky to play shortstop, though he’s a surprisingly agile defender who has the chops to stay at the position. That strength gives Rivera some sneaky pop, though he has just enough power to get himself in trouble sometimes. He hits with the approach of a slugger, hunting fastballs and showing susceptibility against off-speed stuff out of the zone. There are raw tools here, but he’ll turn 22 early in the season and needs to start showing polish to prove he’s a prospect. His ceiling is an athletic bench player, though it’s more likely Rivera winds up a toolsy organizational player.