Feb 18, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins Justin Nicolino (79) in spring training action at Roger Dean Stadium Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
The Marlins are currently grooming players with postseason experience. How, you might ask? Even though the major league playoffs are still a few weeks away, the minor league playoffs are in full swing. The Fish have been utilizing that to get some postseason experience for some of their prospects.
The Greensboro Grasshoppers season came to a close on Friday night with a 6-2 loss at the hands of the Hagerstown Suns, the Washington Nationals affiliate. The loss cost them the best of 3 series 2 games to 0. The “Hoppers” proudly made it to the North Division Championship of the South Atlantic League, which is single A.
Greensboro finished the season with a tie for the best record in the North Division with Hagerstown. The Grasshoppers sported an 87-53 record, certainly impressive considering the state of the Marlins farm system. (More on this in a minute)
Meanwhile the Jacksonville Suns, Miami’s double A affiliate, is locked in a battle with the Mobile BayBears. Mobile is the double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The series is currently tied at 1 game a piece, and the winner will represent the South Division in the Southern League Championships.
Jacksonville has been riding Marlins top prospects such as Austin Nola (SS), Austin Barnes (2B), J.T. Realmuto (C ), and Justin Nicolino (P ). Many Marlins fans are familiar with these names as these players have all had impacts at one time or another, many during spring training.
The Suns finished 2nd in the division with an 81-59 record. Regardless of how the playoffs play out, this has been an extremely successful season for both of these clubs. I believe it is even more impressive when you consider the perceived depth of the Marlins’ farm system.
Baseball Prospectus ranked the Marlins 19th overall in strength of farm system, and that was before they traded away their 2nd and 3rd best prospect to acquire Jarred Cosart. I am sure they would place them squarely in the bottom 5 were they to re-rank them. BP is not alone in their opinion of the Marlins young players. An article in SB Nation had the Marlins at 24th overall, again before the trade.
It isn’t just the Hoppers and the Suns experiencing success either. The Zephyrs of New Orleans are just 4 games under .500, certainly respectable. I bring this up to question the validity of many of the so-called “rankings” that look disparagingly at the Marlins. The success that they have experienced can’t be ignored.
It also must be stated that some of the Marlins most talented players in the major leagues could be playing in the minor leagues right now based on their age and experience. Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Jose Fernandez were all promoted within the last 2 years and are young enough to imagine them still honing their skills in the developmental leagues had they not been experiencing so much success in the pro’s.
I also want to mention that I understand that the goal of minor league teams is to develop players rather than make the playoffs and pursue league championships. I sill believe that teams that are developing their players better will experience better success and win more games than those that aren’t. I am hopeful that we will be able to see the fruits of this success in future years.
What do you think? Is the Marlins farm system underrated, properly rated, or overrated? Let us know in the comments below!