On Friday night, MLB.com unveiled their top 100 prospect list on MLB Network. Tyler Kolek was expected to make the list, as he is highly touted around the league. J.T. Realmuto continues to garner attention this offseason, as he was the second Marlins player to crack the top 100.
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Kolek came in as the number 27 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com, and is the number 9 right handed pitching prospect in baseball. The right hander that was known for cranking his fastball over 100 miles per hour pre draft was a surprise pick to the Marlins at number 2, as many around the industry expected the Fish to draft Carlos Rodon, who comes in as the #14 prospect. Kolek also came in the top 100 of Keith Law’s top 100, at #34.
MLB.com, and many other minor league outlets, rate Kolek’s fastball as an 80 grade, the highest possible scouting grade. The experts of MLB.com recognize that while Kolek has a ton of potential, based mostly on his fastball, that he still requires a lot of work on his off-speed pitches, if he is to develop into the pitcher the Marlins hope.
Tyler Kolek is still ways away from making an impact in the majors, as MLB.com ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) for him sits around the 2018 season. That would put Kolek around the age of 22 when he makes his major league debut. Jose Fernandez debuted when he was just 20, but he was a more polished pitcher coming out of high school.
Kolek should start the 2015 season at Class A Greensboro and spend the majority of the season at that level.
The other prospect to crack the list for the Marlins was who the team hopes becomes their catcher of the future. As we noted earlier this offseason, the Marlins tried to dump Jarrod Saltalamacchia to free up payroll and an everyday spot for Realmuto. This clearly means the team believes he’s ready for an everyday role.
If they do believe that, it’s hard to fault that their thinking. Last season at Double-A Jacksonville, Realmuto played a key role in earning the Suns the Southern League Championship. He posted a .299/.369/.461 slash line with a 132 wRC+.
Realmuto comes in on MLB.com’s list as the 70th best prospect in baseball and the 8th best catching prospect. Realmuto also placed in the top 100 (#74) on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects.
With Jarrod Saltalamacchia set to catch next season again for the Fish, Realmuto should start the season in Triple-A New Orleans, with a chance to continue to develop his game. I still believe a little more minor league seasoning is necessary for the 24-year old, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
However, if Salty gets off to a slow start, gets hurt, or the Marlins find a suitable trade offer for his services, Realmuto has a real shot to make an impact at the MLB level next season. The only scenario I’d bank on would be an injury, as the Marlins have to much invested in Salty to demote him or to trade him at this stage.
Andrew Heaney, who the Marlins traded this offseason, came in at #25 on the MLB.com’s list. This comes as no surprise, as everyone but the Marlins are still high on the left-hander, despite his rough debut in the majors. The Marlins were so low on Heaney, the team even preferred to trade him over fellow prospect Justin Nicolino, who hasn’t even made a cameo on any top 100 prospect lists made this off-season.
If the Fish had dealt Nicolino instead of Heaney in that Dee Gordon deal, the public perception of the deal would have been a lot better for the franchise. Instead, it seems the Marlins soured on Heaney because he couldn’t become a star right away, ala Jose Fernandez.
We will have much more prospect coverage next week, as I begin to unveil my top 20 prospect list for the Miami Marlins for the 2015 season.