A Minor Review of 2013: Marlins

There is always a bit of a lull between the end of the minor league playoffs in September and the start of the annual top prospects lists in early November. Because of that gap, I’m breathing new life into an old feature that I wrote for the site in FanGraphs’ infancy back in 2008 and 2009.

The series ‘A Minor Review of 2013’ will look back on some of the major happenings in each MLB organization since the beginning of April as a primer for the upcoming FanGraphs Top 10+5 prospects lists. This series will run throughout September and October. I hope you enjoy the series and are eagerly anticipating the start of ‘Prospect List Season.’

The player listed in the sleeper section was featured in a pre-season series that looked at one fringe prospect in each organization that was expected to take a big step forward during 2013, chosen by myself, a scout or a front office talent evaluator.

The Graduate: Jose Fernandez, RHP: There were a lot of double-takes — including from yours truly — when it was announced that Fernandez had earned a spot on the Marlins’ opening day roster. Just 20 years old when the year began, he had just two pro seasons under his belt — and no experience above A-ball. Despite the experience, Fernandez pitched well enough to deserve some Cy Young award consideration but playing for a last-place team and with innings restrictions will ensure that doesn’t happen. The term “potential No.1 starter” is thrown around a lot but this Cuban truly has all the makings of a staff ace.

The Riser: Brian Flynn, LHP: Improved command and polished secondary offerings have helped Flynn raise his profile and overall value. The lefty has a strong pitcher’s frame and projects to develop into an innings-eating No. 4 starter for The Fish. Acquired as part of the deal that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit, Flynn could end up being as valuable (or more so) than the other pieces — Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner — that also came back to Miami.

The Tumbler: J.T. Realmuto, C: Realmuto was converted to catcher when he turned pro and, at that time, projected to develop into an offensive-minded backstop. Since that time, though, his defense has improved dramatically while his offense has fallen off a cliff with an OPS of .664 over the past two seasons. The catching depth in the Marlins system is nothing to write home about so Realmuto is still the best in-house option to eventually see regular playing time behind the dish at the big league level.

The 2013 Draft Pick: Colby Suggs, RHP: A hard-throwing reliever, Suggs is a guy that could zoom through the Marlins’ system quite quickly and see the Majors by the end of 2014 if his control/command plays at the upper levels of the minors. With a mid-90s fastball and above-average breaking ball, Suggs could eventually develop into a high-leverage reliever, although the club could also roll the dice, slow down his development and see if he can develop a third pitch and handle a starting role.

The Sleeper: Ron Miller, 1B: Miller was a name given to me very early in 2013 — prior to the season — as an extremely deep sleeper to keep an eye on. But I was also cautioned that the first base prospect was extremely raw on the baseball diamond. In his first two seasons in pro ball, the Los Angeles native hit .182 with 103 strikeouts in 84 games in rookie ball. The 2014 season could be a make or break year for Miller, who needs to start taking some steps forward, make more consistent contact, and tap into his raw power potential.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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The pitching throughout the organization was great this season, including bullpen arms. I wonder if they can use some of that depth to make a move for a bat. It is obviously much needed. Can you give me any information on Austin Barnes? He played a good amount of 2b when he was moved to AA, but I want to know if he profiles as an everyday player at either position. I know he can hit, but I dont know much about his ability behind the plate. Also, Kyle Skipworth has shown that he can play defensively behind the plate, but the obvious issues with making contact have hurt him. I know he still has a lot of power. If he can somehow hit .220, would it be reasonable to think he can hit 15-20 HRs and be an everyday catcher in the NL?