I am a little late on this season, but it’s better late than never for the 2014 Marlin Maniac top 20 prospect list. One season after having a plethora of outfielders clog their top prospect list, this seasons list will be primarily pitchers.
The 2014 top 20 Miami Marlins prospect list was put together by contributor David Polakoff, senior staff writer Placido Estevez, and myself. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be going more in depth profile for each prospect, but I wanted to go ahead and introduce the top 20 prospect list today.
Without any further ado, here is the Marlin Maniac top 20 prospect list for the Miami Marlins:
1. Andrew Heaney, LHP
Heaney was looked upon as a safe pick by the Marlins when they drafted him ninth overall in the 2012 MLB draft. A lot of detractors thought the Marlins took Heaney because they were trying to avoid signing a player who would demand a huge bonus. The Marlins look like geniuses today, as Heaney is close to Major League ready less than two years after being drafted. Heaney has the potential blossom into a #3 or even a #2 starter for the Marlins. Heaney projects to be the perfect compliment behind Marlins ace Jose Fernandez for years to come.
2. Colin Moran, 3B
The Marlins first round pick from the 2013 Major League has a chance to be the answer for the team’s revolving door at third base since the departure of Miguel Cabrera. Picked out of the University of North Carolina, Moran’s bat was seen as the most polished in last year’s draft. The hope for Moran during the 2014 season would be for him to continue to show off his plus hitting tool. Ideally, he should be a September callup for the Marlins.
3. Jake Marisnick, OF
Marisnick came over the to the Marlins as a major piece of their impressive haul from the Toronto Blue Jays blockbuster deal. He, along with Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, were seen as one of the more impressive trio of outfield prospects in the game. Marisnick had a strong 2014 campaign in Double-A with the Jacksonville Suns, even outshining Yelich. Marisnick still needs to work on his swing before he gets another crack at the majors. A 2014 season at Triple-A should help Marisnick progress into the players the Marlins are hoping to see.
4. Justin Nicolino, LHP
Nicolino is seen as the other major piece of the Blue Jays blockbuster trade. While Nicolino does not have the upside held by Heaney, his polish as a pitcher and his “pitchability.” While his fastball isn’t too good, his best pitch has to be his changeup and his curveball is nothing to scoff at either. Nicolino should begin the 2014 season in Double-A, with a chance to make his way to Triple-A or even the Majors by mid-season.
5. Adam Conley, LHP
Originally a reliever in college at Washington State, the Marlins selected Conley in the second round of the 2011 draft and converted him to become a starter right away. Conley has responded well to the challenge, posting an FIP under 2.95 for the past three seasons. Conley possess a strong fastball/changeup combo and has displayed strong control throughout his minor league career. Conley should start the season in Triple-A and I believe he could reach the majors before both the pitchers ranked above him.
6. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP
DeSclafani was the throw-in prospect for Marlins in the Blue Jays trade, even more of a throw in than catcher Jeff Mathis. DeSclafani, 23, has made major strides in his lone season with the Marlins, pitching to a lot of success in Single-A and Double-A for the Marlins. Anthony induces a ton of groundballs and has strong control. If he can continue to develop his chance, his chances of sticking as a starter long term grow. DeSclfani should begin the season in Double-A, but could make his way to New Orleans in no time.
7. Brian Flynn, LHP
Coming in at 6’8 240 lb., Flynn is another impressive lefty in the Marlins organization. Of the Marlins pitching prospects in the top 10, Flynn likely has the lowest. Even with that, Flynn has the ability to be a strong innings eater, as a 4/5 pitcher in his career. Flynn struggles at times because of his height, which was evidenced his brief stint in the majors last season. Flynn is on the outside looking in for a rotation spot, but could be the Marlins first option in the case of an injury or if a pitcher ahead of him falters. If Flynn is going to have a long career in Miami, he is more destined for a bullpen role with the team than a starting role.
8. Jose Urena, RHP
Urena is a prospect that could rate a lot higher on prospect lists if more people believed he was definite to stick as a starter. Urena’s fastball/changeup combination is what makes him a strong prospect, but the development of his slider could be the key to keeping him away from a future relief role. Urena should start the season in Double-A Jacksonville and is likely to spend the entire season at the level. 2014 could be a huge season for Urena to prove he can stick as a starter, as he faces tougher competition.
9. Avery Romero, 2B
Romero continues to be one of my favorite players in the Marlins system. Originally drafted as a short stop out of high school in the third round of the 2012 draft, Romero has been moved to second base. Romero’s bat should carry him to the majors, but he has the tools to be a plus defender at second, if he continues to work on it. If his bat continues to develop like most believe it will, he could be the Marlins top prospect a year from now. Romero should begin the season in Low-A ball and eventually move up to High-A by the end of the season.
10. Brent Keys, OF
Originally drafted in the 17th round of the 2007 MLB draft, Keys has worked his way into becoming a top-10 prospect for the Marlins. Keys, 23, is a left-handed hitter that has a knack to get on base. In 2013, he hit .346 with a .418 OBP in over 400 at bat’s in 2013 for High Class-A Jupiter. Keys represents a throw back player for Marlins fans who remember Juan Pierre‘s days as a Marlin. His main weakness has been his ability to stay on the field with hamstring injuries. Keys will likely start the season in Double-A and face the challenge of carrying his success from the lower levels when he faces tougher competition.
11. Austin Barnes, C/2B
Barnes is the rare prospect that can play both second base and catcher, which could make him a very valuable player down the road for the Marlins. While he does not have a ton of power, Barnes does a nice job of making contact and has shown strong plate discipline. Barnes has actually emerged to be the Marlins top catching prospect and has an outside chance of playing in the majors in 2014, if he continues to hit.
12. Jesus Solorzano, OF
One of the higher risk/higher reward players in the Marlins sytem, Solorzano has flashed both strong power and speed in his minor league career. For the Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2013, Solorzano hit 15 home runs and stole 33 bases. His plate discipline needs a ton of work, as he walked in just 4.6% of his plate appearances last season. If he pans out, Solorzano could become a good second tier outfielder for the team. He is likely to spend the entire 2014 season in High-A Jupiter.
13. J.T. Realmuto, C
Realmuto was drafted as a short stop out of high school, but the Marlins decided to move him to catcher right away. Realmuto plays strong defense behind the plate, which is impressive for someone who started playing catcher in 2010. Throwing out 34% of base stealers in 2013 could get him to the majors, but if his bat can develop, Realmuto could become an above-average catcher down the road. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia signed for the next three seasons, the Marlins will move Realmuto along slowly and hope the 23-year old is ready to take over the catching for the team in 2017.
14. Trevor Wiliams, RHP
Williams was the 44th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and has a chance to move through the Marlins system at a rapid pace. Williams has an above average fast-ball and two breaking balls. While Williams has the stuff to rack up more strikeouts, batters tend to get a good look at the ball coming out of his hand. If all goes right for Williams, it would not surprise me to see him make his Double-A début by the All-Star break.
15. Arquimedes Caminero, RHP
Of all the Marlins prospects, Caminero has the best chance to start the season with the Marlins on Opening Day. Caminero has a pairs an upper 90’s fastball with a decent slider. He profiles as a candidate to close for the Marlins if/when they trade incumbent closer Steve Cishek.
16. Nick Wittgren, RHP
Wittgren posted a 0.83 ERA and struck out 9.77 hitters per nine innings for the Jupiter Hammerheads in 2013, in High-A ball. The former 9th round pick throws a low-90’s fastball and possess as strong curveball. The 2012 draftee reached Double-A at the end of last season and should begin the season there in 2014. He has a strong chance to reach the majors and stick there in 2014.
17. Colby Suggs, RHP
Another draftee from the 2013 MLB draft, Suggs has a build similar to former Marlin Heath Bell. He throws an upper 90’s fastball and a curveball that could develop into a plus pitch down the road. Suggs bouts with his command keep him from being projected as a closer down the road, hurting his value as a prospect. Reaching High-A in 2013, Suggs could sniff the majors by the end of the season, granted he works on his control.
18. Sam Dyson, RHP
The Marlins were able to steal Dyson away from the Toronto Blue Jays off waivers before the 2013 season. Dyson has three pitches that could be average to above average and has spent a majority of his minor league career as a starter. Depending on a good sinking fastball, Dyson projects to be a long reliever for the Marlins down the road. Dyson, 25, should see the majors at some point in 2014.
19. Austin Brice, RHP
Brice is the prototypical starting pitcher prospect that scouts dream about. He has been terribly inconsistent in his minor league career, dealing with control issues hamper his ability to reach his potential. While he has a strong arsenal of pitches and a good frame for a pitcher, Brice struggled while repeating Low-A in 2013. The 2014 season could be a major make it or break it season for the young right-hander.
20. Angel Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez was the center piece of the deal that sent Ricky Nolasco to Los Angeles for the Marlins. He has a good fastball and slider, along with a developing changeup. At 24-years old, Sanchez has only reached High-A and that’s where he’ll likely start the 2014 season. Sanchez, like a few other Marlins prospects above him, has a lot to prove during the 2014 season.