Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 31…of 286. Stay tuned.
Nick Fortes is a 6′, 210 lb. cacher from DeLand, FL, hometown of Jacob DeGrom and Chipper Jones. Born on November 11th, 1996, the Miami Marlins chose him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, with the 117th overall selection. You can follow him on Twitter @nickfortes7.
The “117 club” is rife with major leaguers. 16-of-54 chosen at the position eventually made it to the top level. The prestigious group is led by Hal McRae (1965, Cincinnati Reds, 27.9 career WAR), Brandon Crawford (2008, San Francisco Giants, 23.0 WAR), Bip Roberts (1981, Pittsburgh Pirates, 20.5), and Cody Ross (1999, Detroit Tigers, 13.6).
Fortes was chosen out of the University of Mississippi, and signed with the Miami Marlins for $425,000. In three seasons with the Rebels, Fortes slashed .308/.411/.479, with 16 home runs and 82 RBI in 126 games. Fortes also showed patience beyond his years at the plate, drawing 63 walks and striking out only 47 times.
Fortes joined the Rebels splitting his time between first base and catcher, and eventually took over behind the plate. He’s an excellent pitch blocker,but needs to work on his pop time and arm strength to be major-league ready. More at baseballamerica.com (subscription required).
On June 15th, the Miami Marlins assigned Fortes to their short-season-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League, the Batavia Muckdogs. After going one-for-four with a walk and two RBI, he didn’t play in another game for three weeks. The Marlins then assigned Fortes to their rookie-level Gulf Coast League team, the GCL Marlins. In 11 games, he went just seven-for-35, a .200 average, but he also drew six walks to only four strikeouts, resulting in an adequate .311 OBP. He also had a pair of doubles.
On August 26th, Fortes was called back up to Batavia, and in two games he went four-for-six with three runs, a walk, and an RBI. He finished out his first professional season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, going two-for-17 in five games.
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In total, over 78 plate appearances, Fortes drew 11 walks and struck out only five times. Defensively, he played 125 innings behind the plate, and finished with a .992 fielding percentage, making one error in 133 total chances. He passed three balls in that time, and threw out eight-of-22 basestealers for a 36 percent gun-down rate.
After only 19 professional games, it’s hard to predict Fortes’ future with the Miami Marlins. His defense and offensive patience tell us that he’s worth a long look. Expect him to spend the lion’s share of the 2019 season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, and close the year with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League. Long term, he has a shot at playing for the Marlins in 2021.
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