It’s that time of year again, or first time ever as I have never done this before. Lucky you. It is the time where I look at who has done the best for us, as a farm system, over the first half of the season. Players traded for or signed as minor league free agents need not apply. Strictly players drafted by and/or signed internationally by everyones favorite marine themed baseball team.
The Marlin’s system has seen it’s fair share of ups and downs, and granted it has more often than not been bolstered by prospects brought in from other organizations. While I wont share my feelings on that process in this particular post, the fact that I am leaving foreign(meaning non home-grown) off said list should be telling.
We draft pitching well, reasonably. We have alot of guys that profile as mid-rotation types, but we really have no true ‘no questions asked’ #1 floating around in the system, although some have the stuff to eventually evolve into that. Ryan Tucker, currently matriculating in Miami, fits that possible mold, if he can get his offerings besides his fastball working consistently. As does Rick Vanden Hurk, who was rushed and needs to work on his command and refine his curve, changeup, and cut fastball(and splitter? I honestly dont remember all the pitches they have been trying to shoe-horn into his repertoire). Spending the majority of the rest of the year in Carolina will do him some good. Our focus on drafting pitching has left the organization pretty think at what a football minded person would call the “skill positions”, i.e. C, 3B, SS, and CF. And while the recent drafting of Kyle Skipworth and Matt Dominguez shows a readiness to remedy this ongoing calamity, there are still depth issues needing to be resolved.
But enough of my rant! Lets get onto the Homey Awards, the awards for the top 8 position players and 5 starting pitchers for the first half of 2008(as voted on by, well…me? Yep.) that were born(figuratively) and bred by the Marlins themselves. Without further ado…
C-Jameson Smith (Greensboro, L/R)-21 years old
Jameson Smith was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2007 draft out of Fresno City College. The 21 year old left handed hitter hasn’t shown a whole lot of pop in his bat, but has got 8 2B and 1 HR. Despite his .268 average he is getting on base at a .381 clip. His defense is improving and he has a nice arm. Catching depth in the system is low, which prompted the Marlins to draft prep star Kyle Skipworth(who has been compared to Joe Mauer) 6th overall this year, but Smith has shown a good eye and patience and is really neither too old or too young for Greensboro.
1B-Logan Morrison (Jupiter, L/L)-20 years old
Logan Morris was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2005 MLB draft, and did a year of community college before joining the organization in 2006. His first season was unimpressive, from a power standpoint, as he split time between the GCL Marlins and Jamestown in the NY-Penn League. However, he came on strong in 2007, hitting .267/.343/.483 in Greensboro(South Atlantic League) with burgeoning power, as he hit 24 home runs and 22 doubles(and legged out 2 triples to boot). Fast forward to 2008, and Morrison is in the ultra pitcher friendly Florida State League at Jupiter, where many promising prospects(Kris Harvey, Gaby Sanchez, etc) have gone to see their production sharply decline or fall off completely. As a 20 year old, Morrison is putting up a .310/.378/.474 stat line with 6 HR and 20 2B. While he does strike out(roughly once every 6 at bats), he has shown a good eye at the plate and the ability to draw a walk. With this kid’s power potential, plate discipline, and improving defense, the Marlins have a very possible stud future 1B working his way up through the system. Oh, and he doesnt turn 21 until late August.
2B-Chris Coghlan (Carolina, L/R)-23 years old
Taken in the 1st round(supplemental) of the 2006 draft out of Ole Miss, Coghlan put up a .297/.368/.366 line between the GCL and Jamestown in 2006. Moved to 2B from 3B because of power potential, Coghlan shined in Greensboro, hitting .325/.419/.534, although at 22 he was old for the level. A move to Jupiter late in 2007(he got just 130 ABs) was in a manner disastrous, as he hit just .200/.277/.331. That really didn’t matter though, as he started 2008 in Carolina and is hitting a smooth .284/.360/.419. Also throwing in some stolen bases here and there, with 15 on year year(6 caught stealing). With Uggla-who is nearing arbitration-future in doubt, Coghlan producing is a very good thing to the organization as it moves down the road.
3B-Matt Dominguez (Greensboro, R/R)-18 years old
Dominguez, the 12th overall pick in 2007 for the Florida Marlins out of Chatsworth High School in California(a baseball powerhouse in the state). Dominguez signed late, near the deadline in fact, in 2007 so only got 57 at bats between the GCL and Jamestown, and they were nothing to write home about as he hit just .158/.183/.228 in his pro debut. With that in mind, it would of been easy for the Marlins to have just left him at Jamestown to start the year, but he started 2008(after a bout of mono) in Greensboro, and has been proving why he was a 1st round pick hitting .330/.400/.487, with 6 2B and 4 HR(including his first professional grand slam). Add in his excellent defense and the Marlins have themselves quite a prospect at the hot corner.
SS-Osvaldo Martinez (Greensboro, R/R)-20 years old
Taken in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, Martinez showed at a good eye in the GCL in his first year, taking 19 BBs while striking out 21 times. Moving up to Jamestown(and a cup of coffee in Jupiter) in 2007 saw a major regression, but he is back to 2006 form so far this year in Greensboro, although his overall stat line is helped greatly by a very hot April. Martinez looks to have raw talent, and is young, and he has a little bit of speed.
OF-John Raynor (Carolina, R/R)-24 years old
Another 2006 college draftee, Raynor put on a show in 2007, taking home league MVP and all-star honors in the South Atlantic League. Hitting .333/.429/.519 while stealing 54 bases will do that to you. You could make the argument that he was old for the level, and granted you would at least be partially right, but the performance was good enough for him to skip Jupiter completely and start out in Carolina. And while he has cooled off some, which is to be expected as the Southern League is arguably the most prospect-stacked league in minor league baseball, he is still performing with the bat(.289/.385/.440) and on the basepaths(20 SB/2 CS). The kid is a burner with a good arm and a good bat, and it wouldn’t shock me to see an appearance at Dolphin Stadium sooner rather than later.
OF-Bryan Peterson (Carolina, L/R)-22 years old
Peterson was selected in the 4th round of the 2007 draft out of UC-Irvine, and had moderate success after going straight to Jamestown(.250/.318/.389, 5 HR, 13 2B, 1 3B). The lefty hitting outfielder really turned it on, much like John Raynor did a year before him, once he got to Greensboro in his sophomore season. Currently batting .292/.373/.494 with 12 HR, 9 2B, and 1 3B, Peterson is just part of an the Marlins organizational OF depth, which is quickly becoming a strong point.
OF-Mike Stanton (Greensboro, R/R)-18 years old
Taken in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft, Mike Stanton-much like Dominguez-did not show much through his first 56 at bats between the GCL and Jamestown(.161/.226/.268). Also like Dominguez, that did not seem to faze him much as he has been tearing up the South Atlantic League this year, hitting at a line of .291/.350/.587 with 20 HR, 20 2B, and 2 3B. He is a big kid already, at 6’5/205, but the scary thing is he should continue to add strength. This is a scary good bat with tons of potential that could play LF, RF, or 1B down the road in Miami.
SP-Chris Volstad (Carolina, RHP)-21 years old
The 16th overall pick in 2005 is continuing his fast path to the majors, with a 3.28 ERA and 1.26 WHIP at Carolina. The big kid(6’7, 200 lbs) has a low 90s fastball with very good sink, complimented by a curve ball and change up. Volstad is a pitcher who prefers to get ground ball outs but can still fan a fair amount of batters. A bulldog who doesnt get flustered easily, Volstad’s talent is evidenced by the fact that he made it to AA Carolina as a 20 year old, pitched well, and continues to do so again in his 2nd season there.
SP-Ryan Tucker (Florida Marlins, RHP)-21 years old
With Tucker currently being on the Marlins active roster, I wasn’t going to add him, but his season at Carolina can’t be ignored. Taken in the supplemental round in 2005, Tucker has always had a live arm but has also been very wild. His biggest problem always was-and still is to a degree-lack of secondary offerings. Despite that, in 12 games at Carolina before his call up Tucker was 4-2 with a 1.8 ERA and 1.4 WHIP in 70 IP.
SP-Sean West (Jupiter, LHP)-22 years old
Another 2005 first rounder, West was cruising along his first 2 years(GCL and Jamestown in 2005, Greensboro in 2006) with a 3.56 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Then, disaster for West struck, as he missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing labrum surgery in March of last year. West, is back. Not yet up to full strength, he is pulling a 3.82 ERA and 1.92 WHIP with 30 K’s in 30.2 IP, which combined with his adversity is enough to get him on the list.
SP-Aaron Thompson (Carolina, LHP)-21 years old
One of the five pitchers taken in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft, Thompson doesn’t throw fireballs like Ryan Tucker or have the big projectable frames of Chris Volstad or Sean West. He does however feature four above average pitches(fastball that sits in the low 90s, curveball, slider, changeup). Thompson has been consistent at every level he has been at(3.97 ERA/1.29 WHIP in 2005 between the GCL and Jamestown, 3.63 ERA/1.30 WHIP in 2006 at Greensboro, and 3.37 ERA/1.36 WHIP in 2007 at Jupiter), and was rolling this year before he got injured. His stat line doesn’t look nearly as impressive as it did the previous 3 years, but he had 6 excellent starts(3.18 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) and 2 mediocre ones(10.69 ERA, 2.57 WHIP) that skewed the entire stat line.
SP-Kyle Kaminska (Greensboro, RHP)-19 years old
This might seem like an odd pick to some, but I am going to throw this kid a bone. Drafted in the 25th round of the 2007 draft, Kaminska had a very good showing in the GCL last year(1-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 5 games-4 starts-with 14 Ks in 19 innings), and was given the start this year at Jupiter. His first game was excellent, going 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R(1 ER), 6 K and 0 BB. His next start, however, against Palm Beach went much worse giving up 6 ER in 4 IP. The team sent him back to Greensboro, where he has pitched excellent in 4 outings(22.2 IP, 1.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP), and average/mediocre/flat out bad in the other 5 outings(23 IP, 10.17 ERA, 2 WHIP). So while this kid is very hot and cold right now, when he is on he is on. He has a near half and half split good/bad starts, and while this is admittedly a reach putting him here, he has shown the tools to be a very good pitcher, and 2 of his worst starts at Greensboro were the two that immediately followed his shellacking the 2nd game he pitched at Jupiter. While he has struggled, he is still competing at levels higher than he should, as he skipped Jamestown completely.
Well that raps up an exciting awards ceremony, if you can call it that and only in my strange little world could it be called that. Feel free to hit me up with some feedback, unless it is a different opinion(just kidding! maybe. Well probably). I always like to hear what other people have to say. But for now, I am signing off.
The one AND only, -Ranger “SouthernIllinoisMarlinsFan” Periera.