John Sickels of Minor League Ball released his top 20 prospect list for the 2014 Miami Marlins prospects on Friday. Sickels has a unique grading system, giving grades to each prospect based on minor league performance and future projection.
Before we get into discussing Sickels prospect rankings, we’ll take a look at how he grades prospects:
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS:
Grade A prospects are the elite. They have a reasonable chance of becoming stars or superstars. In theory, most Grade A prospects develop into major league regulars, if injuries or unanticipated problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major “if” in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Some end up as role players or bench guys. Many don’t make it at all.
Also note that there is diversity within each category. I’m a tough grader; Grade C+ is actually good praise, and some C+ prospects (especially at lower levels) turn out very well indeed.
With an understanding of how Sickels ranks his top prospects, let’s dive into how he rated the Marlins top prospects. We are not going to go into detail for every prospect, just the ones that are the most intriguing to me.
Sickels ranked Andrew Heaney as the top prospect in the Marlins system, which is no surprise to anyone that follows the Marlins. Here’s what he had to say about Heaney:
1) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Grade A-: Borderline B+. Is it just me, or does this guy not get enough attention? He’s one of the top pitching prospects in baseball with three quality pitches and a great performance record. He’s not going to be a superstar but I would be surprised if he doesn’t have a long and successful career.
I couldn’t agree with Sickels more here. I am very high on Heaney and see a very bright future for the 22-year old. He should make his MLB debut some time in 2014 and will be a main stay in the Marlins rotation, slotting behind Jose Fernandez for years to come.
The biggest riser in the Marlins system has been Anthony DeSclafani, who came over from the Blue Jays in their blockbuster deal from November 2011. DeSclafani went from an unranked prospect that did not get much love from rankers to a top 10 prospect on many Marlins prospect lists.
6) Anthony DeSclafani, RHP, Grade B-: Control-oriented inning-eater type, posted 115/33 K/BB in 129 innings between High-A and Double-A, using 90-95 MPH fastball, good slider and occasional curves and changeups. Like Flynn, Conley, and Nicolino, he projects as a competent starting pitcher.
Projecting as a decent backend option for the Marlins down the road, DeSclafani has come a long way to establish himself since being drafted out of the University of Florida in the sixth round in 2011 draft.
Sickels doesn’t have much love for Jake Marisnick, questioning his ability to hit and even comparing him to one of the bigger busts in MLB history:
7) Jake Marisnick, OF, Grade B-: Borderline C+. I respect Marisnick’s tools and he’s developed into a valuable defensive outfielder, but his over-aggressive offensive approach cuts into his production. Jeff Francoeur with less power but better defense and speed? That’s the outcome if he doesn’t get a better grasp of the strike zone.
The last prospect on Sickels’ list we will take a look at will be a prospect he sees as a potential sleeper in the 2014 season. It’s yet another promising left handed pitcher, Jarlin Garcia.
Jarlin Garcia, LHP, Grade C+: Multiple sources praising this guy as breakthrough candidate, posted 3.10 ERA with 74/18 K/BB in 70 innings in New York-Penn League. Smooth delivery, low-90s fastball and a good curve, just turned 21. Mid-rotation potential if it comes together in full-season ball.
With a strong 2014 season, Garcia could jump into the top 10 of Marlins prospects in the 2015 season.