MLB

Miami Marlins: A Future NL East Threat?

Givanni Damico | July 5th, 2019

Everybody cracks jokes about the Marlins. Many people even say that this team has no future and that there’s no hope for their franchise. This is just untrue. The Marlins’ are stacked with young talent in their farm system that should be ready by 2020 or 2021. Today, we’re going to take a dive into some players that will be helping the Marlins in the future.

Starting Pitchers: Pablo Lopez (23), Jordan Yamamoto (23), Zac Gallen (23), Elieser Hernandez (24), Caleb Smith (27), Sandy Alcantara (23), and Trevor Richards (26)

All seven of these guys are currently up with the Miami Marlins, although Lopez and Smith are currently on the injured list. All seven of these guys are also 27 years old or younger. Obviously, the Marlins are not going to roster seven starting pitchers in the rotation at once, but this is a good problem for the organization to have. Some of these guys could transition to the bullpen while others may be traded for some bats in the lineup. Pablo Lopez is 23 years old and is currently in his second season of Major League Baseball. He had a solid season last year, starting ten games and going 2-4 with a 4.14 ERA. Despite just going on the injured list, Lopez was having a solid season so far. He has started 14 games and pitched to a 5-5 record with a 4.23 ERA. Lopez isn’t a big strikeout guy but he doesn’t give away many free passes either. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he is still very young with much room to grow. If this is his floor, then Lopez could be headlining this rotation in the future.

Jordan Yamamoto has been stellar through his first four career starts. He has pitched to a 3-0 record with a 2.35 record. He is striking out nine batters per nine innings while only allowing 3.9 hits per nine. His walk rate has been a bit high so far, as he has allowed 4.7 walks per nine, but everything else has been stellar. Obviously, the sample size is very small, so I’m not going to jump to conclusions by saying that he’ll be the future ace of the rotation, but if he keeps pitching as he has been, then he will have a very good shot at becoming that ace.

Zac Gallen was one of the guys that the fans have been looking forward to all season. He finally got the call-up after pitching lights out in Triple-A. He has started three games so far and has gone 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. They have not used him as a workhorse so far, so he has only thrown 12 innings between these three starts. He is averaging 12.0 K/9, but he is getting hit pretty hard, allowing 9.0 H/9. I haven’t sat down and watched a Zac Gallen outing yet, but I will definitely watch his next start to get a better read on how his stuff will translate and how effective he will be. Right now, I see Gallen as a big part of this rotation’s future.

I am watching Elieser Hernandez pitch as I type this article. Like many young pitchers today, he didn’t have fantastic command today. He pitched 4.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits. He hung a couple of pitchers which led to big hits. I love Hernandez’s stuff though. He has been solid this year, pitching to a 4.40 ERA while striking out 10.2 batters per nine. He has serious potential, but I could see him moving to the bullpen or getting traded for a bat depending on what he can bring in. He has pitched out of the bullpen 27 times in his two-year career but hasn’t had much success there. It’s hard for me to get a read on how good Hernandez will actually be, but the Marlins should definitely hang onto him.

Caleb Smith was pitching like the ace of the rotation until he went down with a left hip injury. He is currently 3-4 with a 3.41 ERA and has struck out 11.2 batters per nine. His walk rate is down to just 2.7 BB/9 while he also only allows 6.7 hits per nine. He is expected to be activated on Saturday for his start against the Braves. I see Caleb Smith as the most likely pitcher in the current group to be dealt for some bats. His value is pretty high right now and there are quite a few teams who need a quality starting pitcher. Now would be the right time to sell on him because he is pitching better than he ever has before. Teams should be careful when trading for him because this season could just be an anomaly.

Now we move onto the Marlins’ lone all-star, Sandy Alcantara. While Alcantara isn’t exactly putting up all-star numbers, there is a ton of promise for his future. The Marlins have had a hard time providing him with run support this year, so his record sits at just 4-8. He has a 3.82 ERA but looking at his stats make me wonder if he’s getting lucky. He’s only striking out 6.2 batters per nine while his walk rate is at 4.2 BB/9 and he is allowing 8.4 H/9. His WHIP is pretty high at 1.401. This was a very questionable all-star pick by Major League Baseball, but Alcantara is still very young. He is still figuring it out, but the future is bright for him. Now that he has the “all-star” label, his value is automatically higher than it was (which it shouldn’t be), so he could be a future trade piece.

Finally, we finish this list off with Trevor Richards. Like Alcantara, Richards has gotten zero run support this year. He’s 3-9 with a 4.02 ERA and is striking out 7.9 batters per nine. He has a 3.8 BB/9 rate and a 7.9 H/9 rate while his WHIP is at 1.298. I’m not sure what Richards’ ceiling is, but he is also a guy that I can see being dealt. Let’s not forget that the Marlins also have five starting pitchers in their top ten prospects (six if you include Gallen), most of whom are expected to be up next season! The Marlins have so much pitching that it is inevitable for some of these guys to be moved. Here is my ideal 2021 starting rotation for the Marlins.

Jordan Yamamoto
Zac Gallen
Sandy Alcantara
Pablo Lopez
Sixto Sanchez
Braxton Garrett

There really isn’t much of an order to this group because I’m not sure how good Sanchez and Garrett will be in two years. I expect Elieser Hernandez to stay with the team in a bullpen role and Richards and Smith to be traded eventually. The Marlins also have some position players who should be well-equipped by the 2021 season.

Hitters: Brian Anderson (26), Harold Ramirez (24), Jorge Alfaro (26), Monte Harrison (23), Isan Diaz (23), Victor Victor Mesa (22)

As you probably know, six guys are not enough to roster a starting lineup. I will say it once more: the Marlins need hitters. Brian Anderson will be in his prime during the 2021 season. He’s slashing .253/.337/.425 with 11 home runs so far this year. I’m not sure how good his “prime” will be, but he certainly is not a “face of the franchise” type of player.

Harold Ramirez has hit for a decent average so far (.297) but hasn’t flashed much power. He’s not that kind of player though. If he can continue hitting close to .300, he will be very valuable for the future. Jorge Alfaro has already matched his home run total from last year at ten, so he is showing a lot of growth. He’s slashing .259/.307/..421 with an incredibly high 34% strikeout rate. He needs to be more picky at the plate. I don’t know if I see Alfaro as the future at catcher for Miami, but he is definitely showing strides.

Monte Harrison is the number two prospect in the organization right now. He’s hitting .284 with nine home runs in 190 at-bats at Triple-A New Orleans. He led minor league baseball with 215 strikeouts last season but has managed to hit the ball a lot better so far in 2019. He is still striking out at a high clip (35%) but at least he has gotten more hits when he makes contact.

Isan Diaz is my favorite hitter in this organization right now. In Triple-A New Orleans, Diaz is hitting .294 with 20 home runs. His strikeout rate is a respectable 25%, so he has shown more plate discipline than the majority of his minor league teammates (and a lot of the big leaguers). Second basemen with power are hard to come by, so this guy has a tremendous upside for the future. He is someone that the Marlins must hold onto.

Victor Victor Mesa (no it wasn’t a typo the first time) signed for a franchise-record $5.25 million signing bonus (among amateur position players). He is not a fantastic hitter, but he is a great runner and a fantastic fielder. He’s only hitting .235 with 0 home runs in A+ Jupiter right now, but his scouting report projects his power numbers to improve. He still has to fill out a bit, standing at just 5’9” and 165 pounds. There is a lot of work to be done in the offseason for Mesa, but MLB.com projects him to be in the majors by 2020. I think this is generous. I see Mesa making it in 2021 and hitting better than he is projected to. One more time for the people in the back: Miami needs hitters!

The bullpen is pretty brutal for the Marlins right now, but they can fix this with their immense farm system of pitching and free agency. The Marlins need to work on getting people who can hit the baseball. If they can get a few of those guys, they’re set for 2021. Bold prediction: the Marlins make the playoffs in the 2021 season. Your move, Miami.

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