Marlins Place 2 in Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects

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Earlier this week, we went over Keith Law’s system rankings of all the MLB teams. The Miami Marlins, not surprisingly, came in low at number 24, as they have depleted their system with promotions and trades the past couple of seasons.

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On Thursday, Keith Law released his top 100 prospect list for the upcoming 2015 season. The list is down into two parts (100-51 and 50-1). In that ranking, Law had two Marlins crack the top 100 and two former Marlins who had been traded in the past 6 months as well.

Not surprisingly, the Chicago Cubs, who came in as the number one system in baseball according to Law, dominated the list with a bunch of their farm hand making the list.

The first player Law had ranked in his top 100 for the Marlins was the teams first round pick from the 2014 MLB draft, Tyler Kolek. At just 19-years old, Kolek is an extremely talented arm, but is still very raw and has time before he reaches the big leagues.

Here’s what Law had to say about Kolek.

"34. Tyler Kolek, RHPIf “The Golem” was a pitcher, this is what it would look like: 6-foot-7, 275 or so (he’s generously still listed at 260), with a fastball that can reach 100 mph and regularly sits 94-97, and a very hard slider. It’s the raw material for a staff ace, a Jeff Niemann build without the Rice workload, but needs a lot of refinement to become a pitcher rather than a thrower. Kolek doesn’t command either of his pitches well, and lacked a real weapon for lefties in high school, trying to backdoor his slider rather than come in with either pitch. His changeup is in its infancy, with the Marlins trying just to emphasize maintaining his arm speed as they work on building consistency in his delivery without making it stiff or slow.The challenge for Kolek will be learning the finer points of pitching — command, setting up hitters, mixing pitches — even though he’ll be able to overpower A-ball hitters with pure stuff. I don’t think he’s a fast mover given how much work there is to do, but there are few prospects anywhere in the minors who look more like a front-line starter than Kolek does."

The prospect Law had next on his list may surprise Marlins fans, as J.T. Realmuto makes a huge climb on his list, jumping all the way up to #72, this after being unranked on many previous prospect lists the last couple of seasons.

No doubt Realmuto’s breakout 2014 campaign at the Double-A level has a lot to do with that. Here’s what Law had to say about Realmuto.

"72. J.T. Realmuto, CRealmuto was my sleeper prospect for the Marlins going into the 2012 season, but his bat seemed to stagnate over the next two seasons and he appeared more likely headed for backup duty. He showed real improvement in 2014 while repeating Double-A, both on offense and defense, and was a popular target in offseason trade talks this winter. He’s a great athlete who got a later start in baseball than most, playing two sports in high school and signing as a 19-year-old high school senior in 2010.His arm is an easy plus with a career 38 percent caught-stealing rate, and he has developed into a solid-average receiver as well. He still has a lot less experience than most 24-year-olds, but he’s major league-ready now and should be an average regular after a year or so of at-bats in Miami."

It may not be a surprise to most Marlins fans to see Kolek as the top overall prospect in the Marlins system, as his talent is apparent. Kolek has the ceiling of a true number one guy down the road for the Marlins, which is not something many lower level pitching prospects can say.

The real surprise for many will be that Realmuto will come in the #2 prospect for the Fish. I’m in agreement with Law, as I’m not as high on Justin Nicolino as many others, as the Marlins are. We’ll discuss this more as I start revealing my top prospect list next week.

Earlier this offseason the Marlins dealt their top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney to acquire second baseman Dee Gordon. Trading Heaney for Gordon was selling low on Heaney’s value, as the Marlins soured on him a bit after his rough major league showing in 2014.

Here’s what Keith Law had to say about Heaney.

"58. Andrew Heaney, LHPThe Marlins seemed to give up on Heaney quickly after his disappointing trial in the majors last year, during which his velocity was a tick below what it had been in 2013 and he was very susceptible to the long ball. Their loss — they dealt him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dee Gordon — appears to be the Angels’ gain, as Heaney is now their second-best prospect. Heaney is a control lefty with excellent secondary stuff, and as he learns to command his fastball more, particularly working to keep it down in the zone, since hitters have shown they’ll give it a ride if he leaves it up, he’ll develop into at least a solid to average big league starter.Heaney will show a plus slider and plus or better changeup, coming from just below three-quarters and using the slider against hitters on both sides of the plate, with an aggressive approach that probably didn’t serve him well in the majors because he was too willing to attack hitters over the plate with his fastball. He might need to pitch less off his fastball given how good his off-speed stuff is, and as the fastball command develops, he has the ceiling of a No. 2."

Like me, Law still has a high regard of Heaney, believing the Marlins gave up on him too early. My main issue with the Marlins trading Heaney was that they for some reason valued fellow lefty prospect Justin Nicolino higher than Heaney. That makes no sense.

The other prospect that cracked the top 100 for Keith Law that was recently traded away by the Marlins was their first round pick from 2013, Colin Moran. Once again, I’m in agreement with Law’s assessment with Moran.

"73. Colin Moran, 3BI think most people in the industry were surprised to see the Marlins move Moran just 13 months after making him the No. 6 pick in the draft, but the Astros have to be thrilled to end up with a player they were seriously considering with the first overall pick that year (with which they took Mark Appel). Moran is a very high-probability regular, a left-handed hitter with a great feel to hit and more than adequate defense at third, showing great instincts across the board that help him play above his tools. Moran’s swing isn’t classic; he has a long stride without a big weight transfer but rotates his hips well and has very strong wrists and forearms for unexpected power, which he put on display against future playoff hero Brandon Finnegan in a Double-A contest in August.At third base, he has improved his footwork since signing, and while his arm is just a 50 grade, it’s very accurate, so on balance, he should be at least a league-average defender. In the long run, Moran is probably more a hitter for average and contact than big power, but he has 15-20 homer juice if he wants to get to it. He has a high floor as an average regular at third but one who’ll make some All-Star teams in years during which he hits .310 or so in the first half."

I am not too high on Jarred Cosart and the fact the Marlins already traded Enrique Hernandez, one of the main returns in the deal with the Astros, still has me scratching my head about the trade.

Moran didn’t hit as well as the Marlins probably wanted him to in the lower minors, but for the most part, Moran spent the 2013 in a pitcher friendly league and put up decent numbers after a slow start. I would have prefered the Marlins to hold on to him, with third base still a question mark after the 2016 season.

Check out the rest of Keith Law’s list over on ESPN. Per usual, he does a great job in his role of evaluating prospects.

Next: Predicting Marlins 25-man roster

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