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.

PlayerPA as MarlinOriginal TeamPA in Marlins’ minor league
Hanley Ramirez2755Boston0
Dan Uggla2702Arizona0
Jeremy Hermida1882Florida1728
Josh Willingham1593Florida2224
Cody Ross1590Detroit24
Mike Jacobs1499New York (N)23
Miguel Cabrera1356Florida1597
Jorge Cantu1332Tampa Bay0
Alfredo Amezaga1238Los Angeles (A)11
PlayerIP as MarlinOriginal TeamIP in Marlins’ minor league
Scott Olsen559Florida403
Ricky Nolasco558.67Chicago (N)48.67
Josh Johnson474Florida402
Dontrelle Willis428.67Chicago (N)287.67
Anibal Sanchez282Boston54.33
Chris Volstad243.33Florida480.67
Renyel Pinto215.33Chicago (N)4
Sergio Mitre190Chicago (N)10
Andrew Miller187.33Detroit48
Matt Lindstrom171.67New 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


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?