Since the ownership of the Miami Marlins exchanged hands, another rebuilding project was quickly sprung into action. Through the draft and controversial trades, the farm system has been restocked and now there’s depth.
According to MLB Pipeline, about a third of the Marlins top 30 prospects are only a 90 minute drive north on 1-95. The Jupiter Hammerheads play in the Single-A Advanced Florida State League in the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals spring training complex. Here’s a look at the top prospects on the team.
Victor Victor Mesa (No. 2 prospect) was the Marlins big free agent splash this offseason and has the speed and defense to be a big-league outfielder right now. Scouts grade him as an above-average runner who would steal a bounty of bases and he chases down fly balls all over center field. If he can hit, he would be quickly called up and bat leadoff for the Marlins faster than you can say Victor Victor.
With the seventh pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Marlins made Braxton Garrett (No. 7) the highest-drafted Alabama high school player since Condredge Holloway went fourth overall in 1971. His minor league career consists of four starts in Greensboro before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017 and missing all of the 2018 season. A healthy season in Jupiter can establish him as one of the best pitcher in the farm system. Garrett slings a 94 mph fastball and his curveball garners the highest scout grade of 65 on a 20-80 scale.
An instant fan favorite, as demonstrated on the above photo, Jose Devers (No. 12) is the cousin of Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers and is on a similar path. The Marlins spared us all of the potential of both cousins being on opposite sides of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry by including him in the trade package in return for Giancarlo Stanton. He’s a classic shortstop with above average fielding and speed grades. He is also considered as one of the system’s top contact hitters at age 19, so look for him to slap some hits and steal some bases.
Jordan Holloway (No. 13) is in the same situation as Garrett. He’s got the potential to be one of the best arms in the system but after Tommy John surgery, needs stable health and establish consistency. His best asset is his fastball, which ranges from 95-99 mph. Unlike most of these prospects, Holloway was drafted in the 20th round. If he can turn in a full season, he’ll be a major draft steal.
Trevor Rogers (No. 15) was another high school arm taken by taken by the Fish in the first round of the draft. The cousin of former Marlins outfielder Cody Ross stands as one of the tallest prospects in the farm system at 6-foot-6 with a fastball that touched as high as 96 mph. Rogers posted an impressive 85/27 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings in Single-A Greensboro, but he also had a 5.82 ERA. If this were to continue in Jupiter, there’s potential to pivot from the rotation to the bullpen and mold the 21-year-old as a future closer.
The Marlins top four picks in last year’s draft are among their top 30 prospects and outfielder Tristan Pompey (No. 16) is one of them. Pompey climbed up the ranks in his first minor league season, ending with 24 games in Jupiter, while slashing .299/.408/.397 in 52 games. Pompey is a switch-hitter who has played all over the outfield and could potentially be a first base in the future.
After ranking second in the Single-A South Atlantic League in ERA (2.06) and WHIP (0.98) in 2018, the Philadelphia Phillies were so impressed with Will Stewart (No. 21) that they packed him with top prospect Sixto Sanchez and catcher Jorge Alfaro in a trade with the Marlins for JT Realmuto just before Fan Fest. His fastball/slider combo receives his highest scout grades. His low-three-quarters delivery makes his 89-94 mph fastball look like a sinker and leads to a lot of weak contact. His 2.4 groundout/flyout ratio ranked fifth in the Minors last year.
Two other prospects (that I didn’t have photos of) are third baseman James Nelson (No. 20) and starting pitcher Edward Cabrera (No. 8). Nelson is the nephew of former Colorado Rockies infielder Chris Nelson earned Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2017, his first full season, after batting .309 in Greensboro. Cabrera has a fastball grade of 70 and while handled with care by the Marlins in his first two short seasons, recorded 93 strikeouts in 100.1 innings in his first full season last year.
The Hammerheads also has Alejandro Mateo, the team’s lone local product. The Hialeah native has 218 career strikeouts in 206.2 innings since 2016 and is on a fast start this season with five strikeouts in games.
This team is worth a watch this season and you might see some of them in Marlins Park in a few years.