Miami Reloads… Again with Decent Haul from Detroit

The Miami Marlins organization was one of the big boys during this past off-season when the front office tossed money at shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. But the ‘new Marlins’ did not even last a full season before management pulled the plug once again and started flipping expensive veterans for cheap, young talent.

Monday’s deal saw the Marlins send starter Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for pitchers Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, as well as catcher Rob Brantly. Both Turner (1st overall) and Brantly (6th) appeared on the Tigers pre-season Top 15 prospects list.

Much like former Tigers No. 1 draft pick Cameron Maybin, who also went from Detroit to Miami in a trade, Turner was hurt by the organization’s over-aggressive development plan in an effort to compensate for a weak minor league system. Drafted ninth overall out of a St. Louis high school in 2009, the right-hander made his pro debut in 2010 and was in the majors in ’11. He entered 2012 as the club’s best prospect but he dealt with injuries and his stuff was not as crisp as in the past. A lack of fastball command doomed him at the big league level.

Turner, 21, still has youth on his side and has the potential to be a No. 2 pitcher if he can find his fastball command and sharpen his secondary pitches. He’ll likely see more time at the big league level with Miami but he could probably use about 100 more innings of minor league seasoning.

Brantly has the potential to be the steal of the trade. Former No. 1 draft pick and catcher Kyle Skipworth is following up his dismal 2011 (55 wRC+) with another limp performance in double-A (76 wRC+). The Detroit-turned-Miami prospect recently turned 23 and was a third round draft selection out of the University of California-Riverside in 2010. He reached triple-A in his third pro season in 2012 after posting a wRC+ of 122 in 46 double-A games. He’s been over-matched, though, during his 36 games in triple-A and his development needs to be slowed down.

The left-handed hitting catcher has the potential to be a first-string catcher if he can become more consistent but he’s probably more valuable as a platoon player. He lacks power and has an overly-aggressive approach at the plate that gets him into trouble. Defensively, he needs a lot of polish but shows potential with the throwing game. He’s probably about a year away from being a true contributor at the major league level.

Flynn is a C-level prospect and a former seventh round selection out of Wichita State University (2011). He stands 6’8” and is left-handed. He spent the majority of 2012 in high-A ball showing good control but giving up a ton of hits because he lacks command in the zone. He can hit the mid-90s with his heat but works down in the 89-91 mph range at other times. His secondary pitches are equally inconsistent and he has dabbled with both a curveball and a slider. At best, he could maintain the level of a No. 4 starter for a few years but is more of a long reliever and spot starter – unless he takes a big step forward with his fastball in terms of both command and consistency.

Miami gave up a very talented starter in Sanchez who has struggled with his health in the past but struck out more than 200 batters in 2011. In return, the Marlins received a decent – but unspectacular – return. Detroit was able to hold onto No. 1 prospect 3B/RF Nick Castellanos, who had leap-frogged over Turner this year to claim top spot in the Tigers system.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

37 Responses to “Miami Reloads… Again with Decent Haul from Detroit”

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  1. Darej says:

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    • B N says:

      You turned Jared backwards incorrectly. It should be Deraj.

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    • Pat G says:

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    • jim says:

      it’s gotta be a parody website. but if it is, it’s terrible. actually, it’s terrible either way

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  2. Randy says:

    Reloads is funny.

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  3. Ernesto says:

    I’m disappointed that the Marlins gave up their pick but otherwise, the trade seems good. They sold high on Infante and Sanchez was unlikely to sign an extension with the team anyway. The Marlins farm is pretty empty outside Yelich/Fernandez and with Johnson’s final year coming up in 2013, pitching prospects are needed. Hopefully the prospects turn out better than the last haul the Marlins got from Detroit.

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    • DD says:

      In my mind, the trade of picks is to make up for the fact Detroit can’t offer Sanchez the qualifying offer after the season. Not sure if moving from the back of the comp round to the front is equivalent to a comp pick, but it has to be a decent value in itself. Speaking of that, is there a draft pick valuation table similar to the NFL for the MLB draft? Or is that a useless endeavor because in general picks can’t be traded?

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  4. Dan says:

    I find it interesting that you note the potenial “steal of the trade” is a 23 year old catcher who is overmatched offensively in AAA right now and is probably going to be better in a platoon in the future.

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    • CJ says:

      If you’re ever, ever going to acquire a platoon player, a LH catcher is probably the best you could do.

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      • Snapper says:


        Since a C can only start 120 G’s, max, and 70% of pitchers are RH, a LH hitting C who you “platoon” is still basically a full-time player.

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      • Dan says:

        Oh I’d agree. Just pointing out that a “potential” platoon player who is struggling in AAA at age 23 has somewhat of a limited upside.

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      • cable fixer says:

        agree. especially if you buy the “offense comes later for catchers” idea.

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  5. David M says:

    Sorry for my ignorance don’t know much of Miami’s farm system but the article is a little unclear. Was Skipworth in Miami’s farm system and due to his dismal performance they moved on Brantly in this deal? Or did you mistakenly replace Brantly’s name with Skipworths?

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  6. nobleisthyname says:

    I didn’t realize you could trade draft positions in baseball like you could in other sports. Am I misunderstanding how this worked?

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  7. John says:

    “expensive veterans”…. “Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante”….

    Relatively speaking?

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  8. Joebrady says:

    It has far less to do with ‘expensive veterans’ and far more to do with the fact that the season is over for Miami, and Sanchez won’t be back. Trading Hanley or Reyes would be more akin to trading ‘expensive veterans’.

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    • chuckb says:

      The Marlins really need to trade Hanley but I have no idea who’d want him or where the acquiring team would play him. He probably belongs in LF but when you combine the fact that he’s basically a league average hitter now, has a relatively large contract, and whined about being moved to 3B and will probably whine even more about being shifted to LF, I can’t see that it’s really worth the trouble.

      There aren’t many who have regressed so much so quickly as Hanley Ramirez.

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      • Alex K says:

        Did he actually whine about moving to 3B? Or are you working off hearsay “people close to Hanley are saying” reports? Every direct quote from Hanley that I read was about getting ready for the season.

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  9. So You Know Its Real says:

    This is more of a general question than a criticism, but has there been any research into the theory of minor leaguers being hurt by an “over-aggressive development plan in an effort to compensate for a weak minor league system”? It seems that the Tigers have been accused of this in the past, but I just don’t fully understand the logic behind the complaint, considering it can’t really be proven as a reason behind stunted development any more than lack of talent.

    Continuing on that topic, if the author feels Turner was hampered by being rushed in Detroit, I’m not sure how he can feel the Marlins will come out for the better in this trade if he assumes Turner will “likely see more time at the big league level with Miami but he could probably use about 100 more innings of minor league seasoning.”

    Perhaps this is an oversimplification on my part, but if Turner can’t miss bats at the minor league level, I guess I’m not too confident he’ll develop that skill at the major league level.

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    • Ernesto says:

      The Marlins are guilty of speeding their prospects through the system too. I’m not sure conclusively how it affects their development since it’s been mixed results so far. It does mess up the option years for the team since they call them up often.

      I maintain hope Turner despite some recent struggles. Illogically, the thought of the last DET-FLA trade is in my head but this was a good move on paper for both sides.

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    • the fume says:

      The Tigers brass always talk about challenging guys….when guys have mastered one level, they don’t wait until they are the proper age or whatever before they move them on to the next challenge. Certainly, this might hurt development confidence wise, but I suspect it’s an effective way to internally scout your prospects. And so maybe they’re a little better about knowing who to trade and who not to trade, something they can afford to do not being a small market.

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    • Red says:

      From a common sense standpoint, in the majors winning and thus your performance is the only thing that matters to them currently. They can discount some lesser performance for prospects but they want prospects to try to achieve as good of numbers as they can get. In the minors, organizations can mandate pitchers to throw x number of changeups or curveballs or fastballs. They can have a pitcher work on a new delivery. This allows players in the minors to improve certain pitches and mechanical adjustments better, while the majors allows pitchers to improve their consistency and execution better because otherwise you will get your ass kicked. I’ve heard the same sentiment from several coaches in the major and minor league level.

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    • Dan says:

      No, the idea that moving faster through the minors compared to slower hurting development is mere conjecture at this point. You’d need to randomize hundreds of similar prospects and then follow them throughout their careers to get an idea of whether players are helped or hurt by advancing too quickly through the minors.

      There is too much individual variability and prospects are still so hit or miss that any broad conclusion is just lazy at this point.

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      • So You Know Its Real says:

        That’s essentially the conclusion I came to. It’s a bit frustrating hearing the theory tossed about as though it is founded by evidence and not by supposition.

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  10. Red says:

    But if there is no data either way, then it would seemingly be wise to not rush pitchers as nobody is saying not rushing them is hurting them. Plus, like what was said, the number of variables makes it almost impossible to decide a direct correlation between rushing pitchers and slacking development. At this point, I haven’t heard any logic that says rushing pitchers to the majors doesn’t hurt them. If there is no empirical evidence either way, and the only “common sense” evidence is pointing us in the direction of rushing pitchers to the majors can harm their development, then I would lean towards common sense. If there any logic behind rushing can’t harm pitchers development? I can’t think of anything, but if there is some please explain.

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    • So You Know Its Real says:

      I wasn’t trying to say that rushing pitchers through the minors can’t possibly be detrimental to them, I’m just saying that it’s an easy cop out that seems to be the go-to whenever a prospect struggles at a level higher than their age historically calls for them to be at.

      And that a statement such as: “Turner was hurt by the organization’s over-aggressive development plan in an effort to compensate for a weak minor league system,” is poor journalism. It’s not stating that it could possibly have slowed his development, it’s stating a theory as fact, one that can’t be supported by anything other than opinion.

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      • Dan says:

        There is a chance it’s better to move quickly through the minors than to stagnate at a level. Why not maximize the pitcher’s value before possible injuries set in?

        The problem with most of the handwringing by people over rushing a pitcher too quickly is that is hard to define. What is “too quickly”? Are we judging based on some sort of age/level curve where they should be? Are we basing it on years of professional experience? Are we basing it on performance? I feel most people who have that mindset claim it’s based on performance. Moving a kid up before he has shown mastery of a given level. But isn’t that in and of itself a selection bias? I mean if you think kids who didn’t dominate a given level are moved too soon, are you just poo-pooing the kids who were never going to dominate that level in the first place because of their inherent lower level of ability?

        The concept is too nebulous and unsupported by objective data to worry about it at this point.

        I suspect the common refrain is simply selection bias. People look in hindsight for reasons why their former favorite top prospect didn’t pan out. Guess what, lots of pitching prospects don’t pan out. Trying to peg it on a player being rushed is relatively unlikely at least in the grand scheme of things. If there is any effect at all, it is likely small in magnitude.

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      • Red says:

        I think prospects should be given as much time as possible to reach the majors because I believe it can be harder to improve in certain areas in the majors as opposed to the minors. Advancing a prospect because they’re dominating is acceptable until they reach the majors in my opinion. If they’re dominating in High A but don’t really have the change up more necessary to dominate at AA as opposed to High A, promote them. The prospect can improve his changeup in AA as easily in High A because performance isn’t the only thing that matters. I believe Turner should stay in AAA all year until the Marlins belive his breaking ball will get sufficient swings and misses in the bigs. Give him time to improve until you can’t feasilbly hold him back any longer (ie dominates in AAA for a full year or two if you have good MLB starters already).

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