Everyone else is doing it, why can’t we?
Through the past two drafts and creative trades, the Miami Marlins have set themselves up nicely for the future with an improved farm system. The affiliate feeder system runs seven layers deep, and is designed for ballplayers of all experience levels. From the DSL Marlins in the Dominican Summer League up to the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League, there are literally hundreds of players who would love one day to crack the Miami Marlins roster.
I used a voting system whereas each writer for Marlin Maniac got a chance to rank their top 50 candidates. Then, I assigned values to each vote – simply 50 points for the number one prospect, 49 points for the number two prospect, and so on. Sixty-six players received votes in the running, and the top few probably aren’t much of a surprise.
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Double-A Southern League
Dominican native Sixto Sanchez was the crown jewel of the return for J.T. Realmuto in the Philadelphia Phillies deal. He started a little late, making his first start of the season in the first week of may with the Hammerheads. Since then, he’s earned a promotion to Double-A, where he’s 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA in seven starts. He’s struck out 35 in 38 innings of work.
A converted catcher, Sanchez touches 100 MPH on the radar gun. According to Baseball America,
"Unlike many other young flamethrowers, Sanchez doesn’t have any issues throwing his fastball over the plate, as he’s an advanced strike-thrower and he projects to have plus or better control."
Sanchez could make an appearance in Miami as early as the end of the current season, but it’s far more likely that he joins the team sometime next year. Still just 20-years-old, the righty has time on his side.
2. J.J. Bleday
Vanderbilt Commodores, College World Series
Bleday has been a big part of the Commodores (57-11) ascension to the 2019 College World Series. He’s hit .346/.461/.748 this season for them, with an NCAA Division I leading 25 homers and 64 RBI. The Miami Marlins chose him with the fourth overall selection in the 2019 draft.
A 6’3″ lefty batting and hitting outfielder, Bleday wasn’t always a power hitter. In fact, his power stroke is something he just discovered this calendar year,
"He hit 20 home runs through his first 41 games—upping his isolated power from .143 as a sophomore to over .420 as a junior—while continuing to post impressive strikeout and walk rates."
Bleday can play any of the three outfield spots, but seems a better fit in either left or right field. Expect him to sign with the Miami Marlins soon after completion of the college playoffs, and report to one of their mid-level affiliates between Clinton, Jupiter, or maybe even Jacksonville.
3. Zac Gallen
New Jersey native Zac Gallen is currently the MLB Prospect Pipeline’s number 18 Miami Marlins player. He’s outplayed that expectation this season, with eye-popping stats with the Baby Cakes. In 14 starts for New Orleans, he has struck out 112 in 91 1/3 innings, while walking 17 and allowing only 48 hits. Opponents are batting .153 against him, and he is carrying a 0.71 WHIP.
"Regarded as a back-of-the-rotation starter, Gallen gets results without plus stuff. His upper-80s cutter has been his bread-and-butter pitch, and he works it to both sides of the plate with the ability to backdoor it for strikes against left-handers. His low-90s fastball tops out at 94 but plays up because he creates downward plane and commands his heater well. – MLB Prospect Pipeline"
Gallen, who came over with fellow rotation starter Sandy Alcantara, speedy outfielder Magneuris Sierra, and pitcher Daniel Castano from the St. Louis Cardinals for Marcell Ozuna, made it easy for the Marlins to promote him with his standout numbers. He’s been selected as the PCL Player of the Week three times this season. Last week, the Marlins put him in the rotation against the team that traded him away. He earned no decision, but pitched respectably enough. He whiffed six over five innings, while allowing one run on five hits.
New Orleans Baby Cakes, Triple-A Pacific Coast League
Monte Harrison is a 6’3″, 220 lb. outfielder, and the MLB Prospect Pipeline’s number 85 prospect. In high school, he starred in three sports, baseball, football, and basketball. He was part of the collection of talent the Miami Marlins gained in the Christian Yelich bounty, along with outfielder Lewis Brinson, middle infielder Isan Diaz, and record-setting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto.
Harrison’s best rated tool is his 70-grade arm, but that’s not to say that his other tools are substandard. He’s hitting .286/.378/.491 in 46 games for New Orleans this year, with nine homers and 20 stolen bases.
5. Isan Diaz
As stated above, Isan Diaz came to the Marlins from the Brewers. A 5’10”, 185 lb. second baseman from Puerto Rico, Diaz is crushing it for the Baby Cakes in his second season in Miami’s system. His 16 homers ranks in the top 10 of the PCL in 2019.
Diaz is the heir apparent of the starting second base job at whatever time the Miami Marlins see fit to move Starlin Castro. Castro is not considered a long-term solution for the Marlins at second, Diaz is.
"Diaz’s best attribute is his plus raw power, with his bat speed and the strength in his compact frame translating into hard-hit balls to all fields. – MLB Prospect Pipeline"