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Florida Marlins: Top 10 Prospects

General Manager: Michael Hill
Farm Director: Brian Chattin
Scouting Director: Stan Meek

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

Say what you will about the lack of overall depth in the system beyond the first two or three prospects on this list, but the Marlins organization is one of few clubs that will have drafted (or originally signed) all 10 players on the list. That says something for the organization’s scouts and front office. The club definitely is hurting in the pitching department, but a lot of that comes from rushing its young arms in past seasons.

1. Michael Stanton, OF, Double-A
DOB: November 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 2nd round – California HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

I personally don’t meet many 6’5” 20 year olds in my everyday life, so it’s easy to see where Stanton’s massive power comes from when he takes to the field. The outfielder posted a .283 ISO rate in high-A ball in ’09 and followed that up with a rate of .229 in double-A. Stanton’s numbers dropped pretty significantly in other areas, though, after the promotion. His wOBA went from .433 to .344. He also saw his BABIP drop from .333 to a .288. His strikeout rate jumped from 25.0 to 33.1%, while his walk rate plummeted from 13.5 to 9.4%. Stanton obviously has massive power potential as a future MLBer, but it will be his contact rate that dictates just how big of an impact he has… The good news is that he has plenty of time to make some adjustments in his approach, as he has two more full seasons before he has to be added to the 40-man roster (and begin to burn through his three minor-league options).

2. Logan Morrison, 1B, Double-A
DOB: August 1987 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2005 22nd round – Louisiana HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

If not for an injury-riddled season (He appeared in just 79 games), Morrison probably would have received playing time in Florida at some point during the ’09 season, especially after Gaby Sanchez disappointed in a limited opportunity. Morrison does not project to be a power-hitting first baseman, but he is more of a gap hitter (15-20 homers) that makes consistent contact and hits for a good batting average. He broke out in a big way in ’08 by hitting .332/.402/.494 (.377 BABIP) while playing in a pitchers’ league. In ’09, Morrison hit .277/.411/.442 in 278 at-bats at double-A. Although his average took a hit over the previous season, the first baseman did see his walk rate jump from 10.5 to 18.5%, and his BB/K was an outstanding 1.37. He even has the ability to swipe a few bases with heads-up base running.

3. Matt Dominguez, 3B, High-A
DOB: August 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 1st round – California HS
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

It’s been an up-and-down career for the former first round draft pick but we saw an encouraging sign or two in ’09. Dominguez spent the majority of the year in high-A and hit a modest .262/.333/.420 with a .346 wOBA in 381 at-bats. The third baseman, with a reputation for having a strong glove, has seen his walk rate improve each season since signing in ’07 and it reached a career-high of 9.1% in high-A. It even jumped up to 12.6% during a small-sample-size display (31 games) in double-A at the end of the season. Dominguez also suffered from a low BABIP of .295 in ’09. If he’s going to be an impact player, he needs to improve his work against right-handed pitchers, as his OPS is just .725 (compared to .831 vs southpaws). Dominguez projects to be an average hitting third baseman in the Majors with a good glove.

4. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Majors
DOB: September 1983 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 4th round – University of Miami
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2

Already 26, Sanchez may have missed his window of opportunity to seize the starting first-base gig in Florida. Injuries and inconsistencies plagued him early in ’09, although he finished with solid overall numbers in triple-A: .290/.375/.478 in 314 at-bats. Like Morrison, Sanchez is not your typical slugger, although he has more present power than the younger prospect (.188 ISO in triple-A). His walk rate of 11.5% was actually his lowest rate in four seasons and his strikeout rate was a solid 13.7%. He’s not flashy but Sanchez could be a cheap first base option for a few years. He could also slide into a pinch-hit/utility infield role on a championship-caliber team, as he’s also seen some time at third base (but isn’t very good there).

5. Ryan Tucker, RHP, Triple-A
DOB: December 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 supplemental first round – California HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 91-96 mph fastball, change-up, slider

You’re not a Florida Marlins’ pitching prospect if you haven’t dealt with injuries, and Tucker got his prerequisite injury out of the way (hopefully) in ’09. He appeared in just six games. The right-hander’s woes came on the heels of a season that saw him make his MLB debut with 13 appearances. He showed his inexperience by allowing a FIP of 6.46 and his fastball was very ineffective, according to his Pitch Type Value score of -2.11 wFB/C. If he can sharpen his command, though, the 91-96 mph pitch could be a real weapon against MLB hitters. He’s spent much of his time pitching out of the rotation, but Tucker appears destined for the bullpen, where he can focus on a two-pitch mix.

6. Bryan Peterson, OF, Double-A
DOB: April 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2007 4th round – University of California-Irvine
MLB ETA: 40-Man Roster: Options:

I highlighted Petersen as a potential breakout candidate for ’09 but it didn’t happen for him. With that said, he still had a nice season in double-A and that breakout could still come. Overall, he hit .297/.368/.413 in 431 at-bats at double-A. Petersen maintained a solid walk rate at 11.4% and his strikeout rate continued to drop, bottoming out at 15.3%. His power output dropped too, though, and his ISO was just .116. He also struggled on the base paths and was caught 12 times in 25 attempts. If Petersen’s power does not improve (He hit 23 homers in ’08), he’ll likely end up as a fourth outfielder in the Reed Johnson mold. The loss of fellow outfield prospect John Raynor to Pittsburgh – during the Rule 5 draft – could help either Petersen or Scott Cousins see playing time in the Majors in 2010. Fun Fact: Petersen went to the same high school as Matt Dominguez (and former Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans).

7. Scott Cousins, OF, Double-A
DOB: January 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2006 3rd round – University of San Francisco
MLB ETA: Mid-2010 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3

A flashier but less consistent version of Petersen, Cousins is also a left-handed hitter but, unlike Petersen, he struggled to hit southpaws (.226/.297/.383) and projects as more of a platoon player. Overall, he hit .263/.323/.448 in 482 at-bats at double-A. Cousins showed some pop with an ISO of .185 and he also stole 27 bases in 36 attempts. His walk rate was a little low, but respectable, at 8.0% and his strikeout rate was high at 22.0%. With 31 doubles, 11 triples and 12 homers, he does a little bit of everything.

8. Brad Hand, LHP, Low-A
DOB: March 1990 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 2nd round – Minnesota HS
MLB ETA: Late-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 88-92 mph fastball, curveball, change-up

Hand slipped on a lot of prospect lists after his 2009 season and it’s not hard to understand why, but he still has a lot of potential. The southpaw was drafted out of Minnesota, and northern prospects are traditionally rawer than those that live in climates where they can play ball all year round. And he’s not a soft-tossing lefty carving up beer-league hitters with a mid-80s fastball and pinpoint control; his fastball has shown some modest zip at times. He gave up a lot of hits, with 130 allowed in 127.2 innings, but his 4.23 FIP was better than his 4.86 ERA. His walk rate was 4.65 BB/9 (and he also threw 22 wild pitches) but his strikeout rate was encouraging at 8.60 K/9. His ground-ball rate was just shy of 50%, so with better command he could see that improve. Hand had a foundational season and I look for him to start making a name for himself in 2010… I’m dying to use this headline: Brad… Give yourself a Hand. (That’s the Cistulli in me).

9. Isaac Galloway, OF, Low-A
DOB: October 1989 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 8th round – California HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2013 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

I hummed and hawed about Galloway’s inclusion on the Top 10 list. I lean more heavily on stats that any other minor-league writer out there (Law, Goldstein, Callis, Sickels, etc.) so it was hard to justify Galloway as a Top 10 prospect on numbers alone, but his tools certainly make him a player to watch in a rather thin system (as far as depth goes). His wOBA was just .305 and his triple-slash line was an ugly .268/.293/.382 in 340 low-A at-bats (despite a .355 BABIP). Galloway, just 20, posted a sad walk rate at 3.4%, up from 2.0% in his debut in ’08. The ISO was just .119 and his strikeout rate was high at 26.2%. If the organization is smart, it will start Galloway out at low-A again in 2010 with a quick trigger finger to high-A if he shows significant improvement.

10. Jhan Marinez, RHP, High-A
DOB: August 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-94 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Marinez makes the cut thanks to his fastball, which can occasionally creep into the mid-90s. I would, though, like to see him improve on his ground-ball rate, which was just 39.5% in ’09. He deserves credit for reaching high-A in ’09, as he threw just 21.0 innings during the previous two seasons (both in rookie ball). Marinez’ walk rate needs to improve, as it was 4.19% in ’09 but he survived the control issues, in part, because of the .232 BABIP rate that he allowed. The majority of his command/control issues come against left-handed hitters, as he posted a walk rate of 5.40 BB/9 against them this past season. The organization seems to introduce a new hard-throwing reliever each season, so it will be interesting to see if Marinez can “stick” as a solid bullpen option for the future while holding off some other pitchers like Daniel Jennings, Tom Koehler, and Elih Villanueva.

Up Next: The Boston Red Sox