Jun 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Jacob Realmuto (60) backs away from an inside pitch as Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart (19) catches the ball at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
4. Justin Nicolino, LHP
Preseason Rank: 4, Post Draft: 7
MLB ETA: 2015
Nicolino is back into the top 5 prospect list for Marlin Maniac after taking a bit of a dip in our last ranking. The main reason for his slip was due to his lack of strikeouts. That is still a major concern for Nic, as he has struck out just 60 batters in over 139 innings of work.
The good news is that Nicolino does not walk many batters, either, with just 18 walks on the season. Nicolino is likely to see Triple-A before he gets his chance in the majors, like Heaney and Desco before him. I believe he has proven all that he can at Double-A, so it should probably be a matter of time before he earns his promotion to Triple-A.
Due to his lack of whiffs, I project Nicolino to be a 4/5 innings eater at the MLB level. There’s doubt that he could be a 3/4 guy like the Marlins had envisioned when they acquired him from the Jays.
5. Avery Romero, 2B
Preseason: 9, Post Draft: 9
MLB ETA: 2016
With Moran and Marisnick gone, Romero is the Marlins de-facto top hitting prospect. That is not a bad thing, however, as Romero has a chance to be a special player with his bat.
Despite hitting well on the season (.324 wOBA), we are still waiting to see if Romero can develop some pop with his bat, as his body matures. If he is able to add power to his game, he has a chance to become an All-Star second baseman down the road.
Reports say that Romero has improved his defense at the keystone position, with the Marlins hoping he could be the team’s long term solution at second base.
6. J.T. Realmuto, C
Preseason: 13, Post Draft: 8
MLB ETA: 2014
Realmuto has already seen action at the big league level in 2014, filling in for Jarrod Saltalamacchia when he hit the 7-day concussion DL. That in itself says a lot about how far Realmuto has come from 2013.
Repeating the Double-A level, Realmuto has a .366 wOBA, reinserting himself into the conversation as the catcher of the future for the Fish. His defense has been a strong point since he converted to the position in 2010, when the Marlins drafted him.
If his bat continues to develop, Realmuto can be an everyday catcher, which would be his ceiling. His floor at this point seems to be a Jeff Mathis type role, with a questionable bat and strong defense behind the plate.