On Tuesday afternoon, the Miami Marlins sent RHP Brett Graves and 3B Yadiel Rivera outright to the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
The movement of Brett Graves and Yadiel Rivera cleared out two roster spots for the Miami Marlins with Thursday’s rule 5 draft fast approaching. With the Marlins making the room for a couple, we have to consider the inverse is true. Which Miami Marlins players left unprotected could end up on a different major league roster for Opening Day, 2019?
According to MLB.COM, the Marlins have left three of their top 30 rule 5 eligible prospects unprotected.
Who the Miami Marlins Could Lose
Outfielder Ricardo Cespedes, who is profiled here, just finished his fifth minor league season. He joined the Miami Marlins system from the New York Mets in the A.J. Ramos trade, and is still just 21-years-old. He spent the 2018 season between short-season-A and low-A ball, and hit just .229. Despite his standing as the Miami Marlins number 23 prospect, it’s unlikely he gets selected, at least in the major league portion of the draft.
Once ranked as high as sixth in the Miami Marlins system, Isael Soto (see video above, courtesy of 2080 Baseball) is currently 24th. After missing most of 2015 and all of 2017 with injury, some of his development has taken a little longer than is usually seen with such a highly regarded prospect. An outfielder, he clubbed 15 homers for the Grasshoppers last season at low-A, with a .230 average. It’s unlikely he goes as well. I wrote about Soto in September.
John Norwood caught fame before the Miami Marlins signed him through free agency as a College World Series hero for Vanderbilt. He’s played four full minor league seasons for Miami, all at full season levels, and the last two with the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. He has 51 home runs and a career .259 average between short-season-A and double-A. He’s currently Miami’s number 26 prospect. Read more about him here.
Likely Miami Marlins Targets
Like I alluded to before, the Marlins now have two empty slots on the 40-man roster, and no reason to do that unless they have their eye on someone. I have a few ideas.
As quoted by 2080baseball.com:
"Grullon is an above-average defensive catcher, specializing in game calling, blocking, and receiving. His strong glovework and offensive showing with Double-A Reading last year make Grullon one of the top catching targets available in the Rule 5. He bopped 21 homeruns in 2018, easily a career high. That said, Grullon’s fringy batspeed and limited track record of hitting make scouts skeptical that he’ll have value at the plate against big league pitching. His ability to serve as a backup catcher will put him on team’s radar this December."
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The Pittsburgh Pirates number 26 prospect is 6’6″ right-hander Tyler Eppler. A sixth-round pick in 2014, he’s bogged down at the triple-A level for the last two seasons. His career minor league stats won’t blow anyone away, with a 6.4 K/9 rate, but his 1.257 WHIP and 3.82 ERA suggest he could challenge for a back-half rotation spot out of Spring Training, or at least a middle reliever.
If the Miami Marlins are still in the market for a starter at first base, and I hope they are, then Gavin LaValley could be their guy. The Cincinnati Reds took him in the fourth round in 2014. Since then, he’s advanced from the rookie level all the way up to double-A, and has slashed a .257/.326/.402 with 52 round-trippers and 282 RBI in 529 games.
Anything can happen, really, but it’s more likely than not at least one of these three players join the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
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