How well do the Fish develop talent?

The mainstream media always says that the Marlins’ minor league organization is this talent-churning machine that continually brings in new blood to replace traded-away talent with freshly developed studs. On the surface, it makes sense. Those young players that come up and replace the departing free agents or traded players have to come from somewhere. You would figure the team would supplement those homegrown parts with guys they acquire via trades.

With the recent success of the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies in developing their talent from within, this has become something of a focal point. But if you think our success is built on that, then you would be sorely mistaken.

I looked at the “2006 era” Marlins (that is, the teams from 2006 to now). Here are the players who have accumulated the most PA as Marlins during that time span. I cut off the list at the top 10, all over 1000 PA as Marlins during that era. Next to them I put down the original team that drafted/signed them and how much time those players spent in the Marlins’ minor league affiliates. Below that I did the same thing for the pitchers.

Player PA as Marlin Original Team PA in Marlins’ minor league
Hanley Ramirez 2755 Boston 0
Dan Uggla 2702 Arizona 0
Jeremy Hermida 1882 Florida 1728
Josh Willingham 1593 Florida 2224
Cody Ross 1590 Detroit 24
Mike Jacobs 1499 New York (N) 23
Miguel Cabrera 1356 Florida 1597
Jorge Cantu 1332 Tampa Bay 0
Alfredo Amezaga 1238 Los Angeles (A) 11
Player IP as Marlin Original Team IP in Marlins’ minor league
Scott Olsen 559 Florida 403
Ricky Nolasco 558.67 Chicago (N) 48.67
Josh Johnson 474 Florida 402
Dontrelle Willis 428.67 Chicago (N) 287.67
Anibal Sanchez 282 Boston 54.33
Chris Volstad 243.33 Florida 480.67
Renyel Pinto 215.33 Chicago (N) 4
Sergio Mitre 190 Chicago (N) 10
Andrew Miller 187.33 Detroit 48
Matt Lindstrom 171.67 New York (N) 4

The Marlins got approximately 70% of those PA from the top ten players from guys who were not originally from their organization. The team also got 61.4% of those IP from outside the team. You could presumably add Ramirez’, Miller’s, Lindstron’s, and Sanchez’ output among contributions from “original” Marlins, since those guys came from trades involving original Marlins (Ramirez and Sanchez came in the deal that sent Josh Beckett to Boston, Miller from the deal that sent Cabrera to Detroit, Lindstrom from a deal with New York involving minor league Marlins pitchers). All other players came from scrap heap signings or players that were traded that were not originally Marlins.

Now, I’m not here to proclaim that the amount of homegrown Marlins that you see here is “too low” or something like that. I don’t have a comparison point to judge that. It could very well be average. But for a successful small-market team, it is odd to see so many of the team’s players from outside of the organization. The pitching was developed from decently from within, though the current core is primarily out-of-organization. The position players, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. One was successful (Cabrera), one was a bust (Hermida), and Willingham was a late-round surprise. Since the rebuild, however, the Marlins have not used any other players from their organization extensively. In the ideal 2010 25-man roster, the only original Marlin position player (not counting guys acquired using original Marlins) is Brett Carroll.

Again, this isn’t to say that this situation is bad. What it does say is that either:

a) the front office has done an excellent (or lucky perhaps) job of collecting scrap heap players who can fill everyday roles, doing away with the need to build from the inside

or

b) the Marlins’ minor league organization is not as strong at developing players as most people believe.

Imagine, for example, what this team in 2008-2009 without Cantu or Ross? Those scrap heap guys have taken up a large part of the team’s PA over the last three to four years. Would we be the same had we been forced to use whatever kids we developed from the minors? Would Gaby Sanchez, for example, have been ready for Opening Day 2008?

Attributing this team’s success to developing young talent from within the organization seems like a misconception to me. What do you Maniacs think? Looking at other teams, do you think the Marlins are doing a better or worse than average job at developing our minor leaguers?

Topics: Miami Marlins

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  • aramgh

    I think this is kind of selling the organization short. You sorta mentioned as a throw in that this doesn’t include traded original Marlins, but I think thats unfair. A lot of other guys on this list are the direct result of guys the Marlins developed. Hanley, Willis, Sanchez, Miller & Lindstrom were all traded for guys who were developed by the Marlins (Alfonseca was signed by the Expos, but spent the bulk of his minor league career in the Marlin org.)I think a lot of what this list shows is that the Marlins are doing a pretty good job identifying who to trade for when their homegrown talent becomes too expensive. (Nolasco and Pinto may be the result of homegrown talent too, but my head starts to hurt trying to figure out where that train of trades begins)

    • Michael Jong

      aramgh,

      I agree that we should also consider whether the talent we trade also came here via trades of original Marlins. But how much of that is developing our own players and shipping them off, and how much of it is fleecing other GM in trades? The Ramirez/Sanchez acquisition is legitimate; we gave up Josh Beckett, who grew up in our organization. I’d also be willing to agree with Miller on that one.

      The others? We traded Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas for Lindstrom and got our money’s worth. The primary for the Willis deal clearly was Matt Clement, not Alfonseca. None of these players spent any time in the minors for the Fish, which means we basically got them as either major league ready prospects or certainly guys who we did not develop in the minors.

      I think it really speaks to the one thing I think this FO does well, which is identify other people’s talents and acquire them. I don’t think the last 6-8 years of Marlins baseball has had a whole lot to do with the Fish developing their own talent, at least at the minor league level. How much development they received at the ML level is different, and I don’t know how to answer that.

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