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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