The Miami Marlins aren’t short of minor league depth. Michael Hill had a chance to discuss the progress of player development with the media.
The second wave of Miami Marlins minor league pitching prospects is making some noise as the team continues to build its foundation on the mound at every level.
The Marlins, who got a strong performance from Elieser Hernandez on Friday night, have gambled all season that their young arms would be the catalyst of growth. So far, it has remained true. Even with injuries to 60 percent of the starting rotation that began the season – Pablo Lopez, Caleb Smith, and Jose Urena – the arms that have replaced them have been equally solid, if not better.
Hernandez got his first win of the season in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia.
No one could have predicted Jordan Yamamoto, Hernandez and Zac Gallen could march from Double and Triple-A and deliver against Major League hitting the way they have.
Now, the Marlins can work on evaluating the next wave of pitchers, who could become even better with the right developmental approach.
Michael Hill met with the media on Thursday before the team’s final game against the Washington Nations. Miami lost 8-5 and was swept at home. Hill focused on the team’s 2019 first round draft pick J.J. Bleday and his Vanderbilt Commodores winning the College World Series, but he also took time to field questions about the pitching staff from the bottom of their minor league chain to the Majors and the progress that has been made.
He singled out pitchers who have been impressive to the front office this season so far. He started with Braxton Garrett, who has been steadily working is way back after missing 2018 with Tommy John surgery.
He isn’t the only player on the mind of Hill, who also talked about Trevor Rogers and his progression.
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"“He’s obviously a big part of the pitching depth that we’ve been able to accumulate. I got to watch Trevor Rogers on our link this afternoon — they had a 12 o’clock game — and it was great to see him pitch deep into the game and get a nice victory, but that pertains to Braxton, all those guys,” Hill said via the Miami Herald.“We’re just trying to give them the reps, taking the ball every fifth day, getting comfortable with the routine. It’s good to see them taking advantage of the opportunity, and they’re all pitching deep into games and putting their club in a position to win.”"
Garrett is just one pitcher in a basket full of talent that could knock on Miami’s front door by 2021. The addition of several key arms, which include Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Nick Neidert, Robert Dugger, Cody Poteet, and Jorge Guzman is this an organization that now has puzzle pieces to move if needed to acquire hitting talent.
"“He’s so physical. To see where he was when we took him out of the draft coming out of Carlsbad, out of New Mexico — just his maturity,” Hill said of Rogers. “He’s turned into a man, which we know happens with all the young players that you sign, but just to see the physical presence, the poise, the composure and how he attacks the zone — it’s impressive. It’s part of the development process.”"
Sanchez is the team’s top minor league prospect and the one player who could anchor this rotation as the ace for the foreseeable future once he reaches South Florida. He was the key player in the trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to Philadelphia. He has a fastball that reaches 99 on the gun with consistency and could be a player the team moves from Jacksonville to New Orleans at some point this season.
Cabrera could be the forgotten pitcher in this rebirth of the Marlins. The No. 8 prospect was recently promoted to Jacksonville and has not slowed down. He and Sanchez are a formidable combination in the Southern League.
“You would see him in the past and he would scatter the zone and really didn’t command his pitches well enough to go deep in games,” Hill said.
"“His pitch count in the third and fourth inning of games, it’s difficult to build on that when you’re using up so many of the bullets early. The thing you see from him is he’s gotten a lot more efficient with his pitches and his stuff — similar to Sixto — is overpowering stuff, meaning he leverages the ball well.”"