A pair of Marlins have been named to MLB.com’s 2015 prospect watch, profiling the top ten prospects at each position.
Kolek was the second overall pick in last year’s draft by the Marlins and received the following scouting marks:
"Kolek made waves before the 2014 Draft, thanks to his powerful fastball. He consistently threw the pitch 100 mph or more, making him one of the hardest throwers in Draft history. That was enough to make him a candidate to become the first high school right-hander to go No. 1 overall, and the Marlins were ready to grab him with the second pick of the Draft when the Astros ultimately passed on him.There’s more to Kolek than pure velocity. He gets heavy sinking life on his fastball, creating lots of groundball outs. His slider is the best of his secondary offerings, but both his breaking balls and changeup need more refinement, as he’s largely been able to rely on his fastball to this point.Like most young power pitchers, Kolek’s command remains a work in progress. He’ll need to improve it to reach his ceiling, but his size, stuff and arm strength give him top-of-the-rotation potential."
Still just age 19, Kolek is several years away from being big league-ready. He pitched just 22 innings (eight starts) in his first professional season in the Gulf Coast League where he struck out 18, walked 13 and had a 4.50 ERA. He has the arm strength, as his fastball hit 100 mph back when he was still in high school.
MLB.com gives Kolek a 2018 ETA, so there is plenty of time for him to work on his secondary pitches and climb the prospect rankings.
Realmuto as you may remember had his first cup of coffee with the Marlins last year, where he hit .241/.267/.345/68 OPS+ in 30 plate appearances. He is still just 23 and very much still a prospect, and will likely start the 2015 season in Double-A Jacksonville or Triple-A New Orleans.
MLB.com’s scouting grades for Realmuto:
"Realmuto uses a short, balanced swing that enables him to keep his bat in the zone for a long time. While that approach doesn’t lend itself much to power, he drives the gaps well and collects plenty of doubles.Defensively, Realmuto has made significant strides since beginning to catch. He has a plus arm and gets rid of the ball quickly, limiting opponents’ running games. His athleticism plays well behind the plate, and he has done a good job of working with the Marlins’ deep stable of premium pitchers in the Minor Leagues."
Realmuto still has plenty of time to continue his development, and could factor into the Marlins long-term catcher situation. The team will start 2015 with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Mathis as its catcher tandem, but Mathis is a free agent after next season (and is terrible).
Saltalamacchia is signed through 2016 and will make $7 million in 2015 and $8 million the next year. If he struggles like he did his first year in Miami (89 OPS+, -0.2 fWAR) the Marlins could look to trade him, opening the door for Realmuto.
Over the next several days MLB.com will continue its top ten prospect lists for each position. Still to come are rankings for second basemen, third basemen, shortstops and outfielders. But don’t expect many Marlins to show up on those accounts.
The lack of Marlins in most top prospect lists is a direct result of the team’s recent trading of minor league assets for MLB-ready pieces. Andrew Heaney, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Dee Gordon deal, was ranked the fourth-best left-handed pitching prospect on last week’s list.
The Marlins are finally in “win now” mode; unfortunately, that comes at the expense of the farm system.