The Florida Marlins club seems to be in a perpetual rebuilding mode. There will be few veterans to be found on the field for the club in 2010: John Baker (29), Dan Uggla (30), Jorge Cantu (28), and Cody Ross (29) are the old men of the group. Other starters – all under the age of 27 – include Gaby Sanchez (26), Hanley Ramirez (26), Chris Coghlan (24), and Cameron Maybin (22). In other words, only one projected starter for the Marlins club is 30 years of age or older. The only player born in the ’70s is part-timer Wes Helms at 33.
The only pitcher on the 40-man roster born in the ’70s is Brian Sanches and he has never spent a full season in the Majors. The starting rotation could include the likes of Josh Johnson (26), Ricky Nolasco (27), Chris Volstad (23), Andrew Miller (24), Anibal Sanchez (26), Sean West (23), and Rick VandenHurk (25). The man-child in charge of closing out games – Leo Nunez – is just 27 years of age. The youth movement is alive and well in Florida.
It’s a good thing that the pitching staff is so young, because the club’s mound depth in the minor leagues is not the greatest. The top pitcher is Ryan Tucker, but he’s likely a long-term reliever and there are health questions surrounding him. The next best arms belong to ’09 first round pick Chad James and little-known Jhan Marinez. Both are raw and neither is a sure thing at this point.
The future offense looks much brighter, thanks to the presence of two highly-regarded prospects in outfielder Mike Stanton and first baseman Logan Morrison. Stanton is a good, young player with 30-homer potential but he could also end up with Mark-Reynolds-like strikeout totals. Morrison projects to have average home run power at best for a first baseman but he should provide gap power and a good batting average (perhaps in the mold of Lyle Overbay). Third baseman Matt Dominguez, a former No. 1 pick and an excellent defensive player, still has promise but questions remain about how well he’ll hit in the Majors. My favorite sleeper on the team is Bryan Petersen and he should develop into a solid No. 4 outfielder in the worst case scenario.
Because the club rarely lets its top players make it to free agency (they get too expensive in years 3-6) the club will never be able to load up on extra picks in the amateur draft like some rebuilding clubs. That means that the club has to be very successful in trading its players. Some of the players acquired via the draft include Nolasco, Maybin, Ramirez, and Nunez. Cantu was rescued off of the scrap heap. The club did a nice job of stealing Uggla from the Arizona organization in the Rule 5 draft. Those are the types of moves that the Marlins organization is going to have to continue to do well in order to compete.
Johnson is probably the club’s best draft pick, as a former fourth round selection out of an Oklahoma high school. The club also did a nice job with Coghlan, although his future will be much brighter back at his natural position of second base. His offensive skill set is not well-suited to left field. Scouting director Stan Meek returns in 2010 for his eighth season overseeing the amateur draft and he has produced a rather inconsistent track record. The club has had more success in later rounds of the draft than it has with first round picks. Some of the first round picks during Meek’s time as director include Taylor Tankersley, Brett Sinkbeil, Kyle Skipworth, Jeff Allison, and Jeremy Hermida.
General manager Mike Hill enters his third season after taking over from Larry Beinfest in late 2007. Hill has yet to really stamp his seal on the club with few major moves during his tenure. Uggla is likely not long for Florida due to his expensive contract but the general manager may have waited too long to trade the defensively-challenged second baseman. His value is diminishing every day as clubs put more emphasis on defensive value and Uggla is also getting closer and closer to free agency. Brian Chattin will oversee the minor leagues this season as director of player development.
The organization certainly has some good, young talent but it remains to be seen if the club will allow those players to stick around long enough to help this organization compete long term.