Can the Marlins pitching staff improve as top prospects try to crack the team starting rotation in 2020?
It’s just a matter of time for some of the top minor league prospects in the Miami Marlins minor league system.
As the team moves through Hot Stove season and focuses on free agency and any possible trades the front office can make to better the lineup, there are a few players who are chomping at the bit to make their move onward and upward. With injuries always a concern and the team’s lack of consistency at the plate and on the mound, the Marlins could once again have a 26-man roster that looks more like a revolving door than a stable team.
This may especially be true with the team’s pitching staff as young arms do not always translate to instant success. Miami found a gem in Sandy Alcantara in the second half of the 2019 season and Caleb Smith showed he could be a power pitcher if he can limit the number of home runs he surrenders. There is still plenty of depth on the major and minor league level, but with that comes questions about which arm becomes the third to break through.
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"“Adding Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Nick Neidert to the Marlins’ 40-man roster on Wednesday was a formality. Now, the reality is that all three pitching prospects are that much closer to making their Major League debuts in 2020,” Joe Frisaro wrote in his latest story on MLB.com.“Sanchez and Cabrera — Miami’s No. 1 and No. 6 prospects, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline — are two hard-throwing right-handers who have top of the rotation potential.”"
Potential has been one of the best and most dangerous words used by the Marlins front office since Derek Jeter took over as CEO late in 2017. The potential continues to build as he and the front office build for the future, but with 64 and 57 wins the past two seasons, potential has a way of getting lost from the fans’ perspective.
Once again, they are tired of losing baseball games. They want to see a winning product. They want to experience the postseason in South Florida. If the Marlins are going to break through, it will be because of their pitchers who progress next season and 2021.
These three arms – the next wave of Marlins starters – may turn out to be a better trio than Alcantara, Smith and Pablo Lopez, the presumed third starter in the rotation in March.
"“They’re on the roster now,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “So that makes the opportunity for them to pitch in the big leagues that much easier. But, as we say with all our prospects, they drive the train.”"
The Marlins added plenty of pitching prospects from the moment Jeter took over the day-to-day operations of the franchise. It affords he and Hill a chance to use these arms as trade chips as there won’t be a place for everyone on the roster. It also means there is a chance Miami has a rotation that could be dominant in two seasons.
Neidert may be the one ready to make the jump and should challenge for a starting spot in Spring Training. Sanchez will need more time in the minors. Cabrera showed significant improvement in Jacksonville this past year. Nothing can happen in terms of seeing these young men perform until they get to Jupiter in February. After that, it’s up to them to take that next step.
"“We’re going to give them every opportunity to compete and go out and show what they’re capable of doing,” Hill said."