C – J.D. Osborne – Now that the J.T. Realmuto saga is over and the Marlins find themselves with a new catcher in town in 25-year-old former Phillie Jorge Alfaro, the organization has time to allow top catching prospect Will Banfield to continue polishing his superior defense, while his bat tries to catch up. However, the case for Banfield is this: because of his plus defense and plus arm, but lagging bat (so far), he makes for a much better real-life catcher than he does a fantasy option. This leads us to this year’s UTR OAS J.D. Osborne. Miami drafted the 6’1”- 215 lb. righty out of the University of Tampa in the 22nd round in 2017. He played for UofT his sophomore and junior seasons after transferring from junior college Polk State College after starting 53 games as a freshman. In his three collegiate seasons, he combined to bat .347 with 36 home runs and 198 RBi. After being drafted, the Marlins shipped him to the GCL to start his pro career and he struggled posting a .226/.330/.274/.608 in 26 games. The organization wasn’t deterred shipping him to SS Batavia to start 2018 and he looked more like the college version, as he batted .340 with three homers, 20 RBi with 13 walks to 14 strikeouts. He received a promotion to LoA Greensboro in early August and slowed down a bit, but across two levels, he combined for a .310/.371/.484/.855 slashline. At such a young age, top catching prospect Will Banfield is as polished a defender you’ll see: above-average to plus power upside; plus defensive tools; plus arm both in power and accuracy; great athlete. Osborne had a solid season and as a catcher, he posted a .986 fielding percentage. But with Banfield’s supreme defense, he’ll remain ahead of Osborne on the prospect depth chart, while Osborne’s path could be a backup catcher, utility corner infielder. 1B – John Silviano – Just when I thought I’ve seen it all…..What can you say about Marlins first base prospect Sean Reynolds. You can’t argue with 17 home runs, 12 doubles and 50 RBi in 76 games, Plus, he’s a big kid at 6’7”- 235 pounds. But, in 2018 Reynolds seemed to be doing his best to match divisional prospect mate Braxton Davidson. Poor average, plus-plus power, but the strikeouts are frightening, as Reynolds K’d 133 times in 76 games with SS Batavia last year. Now, of course, this is all tongue in cheek. Reynolds used to be a pitcher who could dial up his fastball into the low-to-mid 90s, but he’s focused on hitting for the foreseeable future and he has the tools to succeed. However, this year’s OAS is no stranger to the feature. John Silviano was the Marlins 2016 UTR OAS choice at catcher, and this year as a first baseman where across three levels, posted his best season as a pro. He broke out, of all places, the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where he batted .281 and hit 12 of his 16 home runs on the season. He began the season weakly inside the GCL (5 games), concluded it weak with Double-A Jacksonville, but overall, he more than handled the FSL and concluded the year batting .252, (with 16 homers), 48 RBi, 41 runs scored and a .992 fielding percentage at first base. 2B – Alvaro Montero – I’ll go on record to say that the Marlins are actually sitting on a organizational strength at second base. You have 28-year-old Starlin Castro holding down the job in Miami, veterans Martin Prado and Miguel Rojas as his primary backups, all while top second base prospect Isan Diaz is simply prepping to (possibly) overtake the full-time major league job by mid-end of the 2019 season. This is the perfect UTR OAS setup for 18-year-old Alvaro Montero, who makes his second appearance on our annual list. Montero made the 2017 list after playing the majority of his games at shortstop in his debut season with the DSL squad, where he batted .260 with 24 runs scored, 11 stolen bases and an exceptional 26:16 walks-to-strikeout ratio in 31 games. Last season, he found himself back in the DSL, improving across the board, batting .312 with 51 runs scored and a 38:42 BB:K ratio. He led all Marlins prospects Triple-A down through the DSL in stolen bases (30) and all regulars in on-base percentage (.430). So, it would be shocking to see Montero back in the DSL in 2019. The 5’10”- 155 lb. lefty could find himself in either the GCL or with an aggressive promotion to SS Batavia to start 2019. 3B – Marcos Rivera – From second base to third, we are doing a complete 180 in one fell swoop. Marlins fans should be kissing the ground that third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson walks on. As far as organizational depth at third Anderson has nothing to look at over his shoulder. It was poor at best, at least in a “2018 prospect performance” point of view. Third base prospect James Nelson, the top listed third base prospect in the system, who had a horrid season after suffering a knee injury that delayed his season until early June, batted .211 with two home runs, 13 walks and 66 strikeouts in 62 games. It’s tough to predict what Nelson would have done if healthy, but this year’s nod goes to Rivera, who spent all 2018 with LoA Greensboro. He played the majority of his games at third, but saw time at shortstop as well. His defense was destitute at best, committing eight errors at short and 19 at third base. Sure, his 12 home runs and 14 doubles were nice, but a .232 batting average and 25 walks to 142 strikeouts in 110 games leaves a lot to be desired. As much time and effort Jim and I put into putting these lists together, we’re simply going to ask that you read this bio, then forget that you read it and hope the Marlins put the minor league performances at third base behind them, be thankful for Brian Anderson and look at the 2019 minor league season with a new outlook. SS – Jose Devers – Great defense and great makeup is basically what defines Devers, who sits at #10 inside Baseball America’s Marlins 2019 Top 10 prospect list. And his bat did enough talking last season to warrant top UTR OAS shortstop honors this season. The Yankees signed Devers out of the Dominican Republic back in July of 2016, but the 6’0”- 160 lb. lefty was part of the monumental December 2017 trade that brought All-Star outfielder and former MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx and sent Devers, RHP Jorge Guzman and second baseman Starlin Castro to Miami. Devers began his Marlins career in the South Atlantic League with LoA Greensboro where he batted .273 with 12 doubles, four triples, 13 stolen bases and 46 runs scored in 85 games. He received a promotion to HiA Jupiter, batted .250, but played only two games due to an injury. The Marlins will continue to develop his defense and Devers will bring along enough bat to carry him through the Florida State League in 2019, as he will most likely spend all season with HiA Jupiter, as the rest of the organization’s shortstops try to catch up with the younger cousin of Boston’s Rafael Devers. LF – Davis Bradshaw – With most of the deserved praise being given to Marlins outfield prospects Monte Harrison, the key piece in the trade that sent eventual N.L. MVP Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, 2018 – 1st round draft choice Conor Scott and number #1 International free-agent signee, Cuban Victor Victor Mesa, the Marlins outfield offers quite the panoramic of talent to choose from in a UTR sense. We’ll start with 2018 draft pick Davis Bradshaw. Taken in the 11th round out of Meridian Community College (MS), Bradshaw’s top skill was plus-plus speed, but carried a good hit tool as well, and made a good impression in his pro debut assignment to the Gulf Coast League, batting .376 with 18 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 27 games. The 6’3”- 175 lb. lefty saw a mid-August promotion to SS Batavia and slowed down a bit, only stealing five more bases, scoring seven runs and drawing only two walks to 14 strikeouts, but still managed to bat .324 in 19 games with the Muckdogs. Bradshaw showed what he can do in a time when he’s just getting his feet wet, and that excites us here because once he gets comfortable, we could see a lot more. CF – Dalvy Rosario – It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to figure out that outfield is the most stacked position in the Marlins system. Listing the top three guys inside Davis Bradshaw’s bio above, there are several more who are ticketed for Double and Triple-A in 2019, but for UTR sake, we’re going to stay in our lane and stick with another first-year player. The Marlins signed the 6’0”- 160 lb. Rosario out of the Dominican Republic shortly after his 16th birthday back in 2016. The righty slugger didn’t debut until the 2018 season with the Gulf Coast League squad and he didn’t disappoint. He batted .257 with 13 doubles, four home runs, 42 RBi, 42 runs scored and his 26 stolen bases ranked second in the entire Miami organization behind the aforementioned Alvaro Montero (30). It would be nice to see Rosario start stateside this year with the Gulf Coast League squad, however, an aggressive promotion to SS Batavia isn’t out of the question. RF – Isael Soto – If you recall in our Chicago White Sox UTR OAS post, I highlighted first base prospect Corey Zangari, and how much further along his career might have been had he not suffered the injuries he has over his short career. Well, the injury fate Soto has suffered is strikingly similar to Zangari. The Marlins signed Soto out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, but he didn’t debut until the following season where for the GCL squad, he batted .251 wirth seven home runs, 23 RBi and 26 runs scored. He entered 2015 ranked within Baseball America’s Miami Top 10 Prospect list (#7), yet played only 29 games in 2015 due mostly in part to a left lateral meniscus injury. The following year, he went back to Greensboro, where he spent 17 games in 2015, logging a .247 batting average with 38 extra base hits (including 9 home runs), 38 RBi and 51 runs scored in 113 games. Now, just when you think Soto is starting to come back into is own, enter 2017, where during spring drills, the 6’1”- 190 lefty suffered a fractured foot forcing him to miss the entire 2017 season. Last season, Soto played 96 games for the Grasshoppers and hit a team-leading 15 home runs and 69 RBi. It’s just a shame how much time Soto has missed and you wonder what could have been, but he’s still only 22 years old and will most likely spend all of 2019 with HiA Jupiter, where he’ll be tested to the fullest in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Just stay healthy kid. Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP Daniel Castano – (13.5) / HiA Jupiter “Legit UTR”
** The Marlins traded away their #1 UTR-OAS in Ryan Lillie to the Cincinnati Reds. Last season the Marlins made a host of moves to shore-up their minor league system. Castano arrived from St Louis and would have been the Cardinals #4 UTR-OAS prior the trade. The Marlins tasked the 23-year old with 14 starts at HiA, though he had to make two stops at Jupiter due to missing two weeks with an injury. The 19th round pick in 2016 only reached short-season State College before getting added to the Ozuna deal. There he posted a 9-3 record, 2.57 ERA, and 81/13 K/BB ratio. Already 24-years old, Castano could be a johnny-come-lately in hitting the radar hard with a solid 2019 season.
2. RHP Brady Puckett – (12.5) / HiA Jupiter
** Puckett is quietly working his way up the Marlins ladder. The 2017 15th round pick spent the bulk of his debut season in the bullpen between GCL Marlins and short-season Batavia. Last season the 6′ 8″ 220 lb righty advanced across three levels and posted very respectable numbers.
3. RHP Jordan Yamamoto – (10) / Double-A Jacksonville “Legit UTR”
** Yamamoto also comes to the Marlins with a UTR resume with his 2017 “would-be” #5 UTR-OAS ranking with the Brewers. Would-be because the 12th round pick in 2014 was sent to Florida in the Yelich/Brinson deal. MLBPipeline had this to say about the 6′ 0″ 185 lb right-hander:
Yamamoto has seen his stuff and overall pitchability improve in each of his four seasons. He compensates for being undersized with a high-spin-rate fastball that sits 89-93 mph and induces whiffs in and above the zone. Yamamoto’s breaking ball is his best secondary pitch, flashing plus at times with late downer action, and he exhibits feel for a promising changeup. His entire arsenal plays up because he’s a good strike-thrower, though he’s likely to be challenged in that regarded against upper-level hitters. The small sampling of 10 starts with HiA Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville shows that Yamamoto is up to that challenge.
4. RHP Edward Cabrera – (10) / LoA Greensboro
5. RHP Jorge Guzman – (10) / HiA Jupiter ** Made the jump from short-season to HiA Jupiter Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Reilly Hovis –(9) / Double-A Jacksonville
2. RHP Lukas Schiraldi –(9) / Double-A Jacksonville “Legit UTR”
3. RHP Chad Smith –(8) / HiA Jupiter