Looks like the future is starting to get bright. With the infusion of talent at the MLB level that is, well, young and inexperienced, things down in the lower leagues are starting to solidify in exciting ways. At AA Jacksonville, A Jupiter, and even Low A Greensboro, talent is starting to shine in particularly in the batter’s box. Let’s take a look.
For obvious reasons, we are not going to look at Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick – both players are eventually going to get time in the bigs as earlier as this season. For Yelich, that call may come in the next few weeks. Instead we are going to consider which players, moving forward, provide some interest in seeing how they develop.
Mark Canha – (1B) Although hitting 25 HRs a few years ago put him right on the fast track to the bigs, Canha’s power dipped a bit last season to only 6 HRs at High A Jupiter. He did raise his average, however, to .293. Now at AA Jacksonville, he has a modest .247/.325/.393 slash line to go with 4 HRs. It seems the power is creeping back, but with inconsistent play (Logan Morrison currently on rehab in JAX) his numbers still aren’t quite where they need to be. He is 8/27 over his last 10 games (.296) and once LoMo gets returned to Miami, look to see if Canha can continue to progress as a hitter with consistent ABs.
Zack Cox – (3B) Acquired from the Cards as part of the Mujica deal last year, Cox was cited as being one of the better hitters in college when drafted. He has not really lived up to that billing but with the Marlins, he is showing signs of production. Currently he is hitting .318/.423/.391 which although it shows he is making contact, his power numbers just aren’t there. Literally, he has yet to hit a home run. Yet of his 35 hits so far, 6 are doubles and he has a low K rate with only 23 in 110 ABs. The plate discipline seems to be back as he refines his hitting approach. The question is will he hit with any power and at this point, he doesn’t project to do so. Still, he is surfacing as a solid 3B prospect for the Marlins who are in desperate need of one – will Cox outlast Colin Moran, though? Stay tuned.
Ryan Fisher – (3B) Another 3B prospect who had 18 HRs a few seasons back and was drafted out of college. Has yet to show that power, but he does seem to be returning to form a bit despite the promotion to AA Jacksonville where he is playing behind Zack Cox. Fisher does have a bigger frame than Cox (6’3″ to 5’11”) and so will project to possibly hit with more power but not as much contact. Either way you look at it, the Marlins have some middle-grade prospects at 3B to go along with Colin Moran. If Cox gets promoted to AAA, look for Fisher to get more ABs and see what kinds of numbers he generates.
Jupiter just does not have the power numbers you would want from a A affiliate. The dimensions of the field are pretty expansive and that may provide a bit of a hurdle. That said, we are looking at prospects that make solid contact in the advanced A system who could expect a promotion depending on what direction the Marlins take at AA.
Austin Barnes – (C) You already know that we like this guy, he is a solid hitter with a .313/.388/.427 slash line. May not stay behind the plate for long and could figure into conversion as a 2B. May be a bat without a position but deserves a look at AA.
Brent Keys – (CF) A light-hitting OF without tremendous speed but seems to do all of the little things well. Has an impressive .347/.419/.397 slash line which means he projects as a top of the order guy at best with high OBP. His career numbers show that he will hit for a high average and not strike out too much. Not much power available at A Jupiter from the prospects stationed there, but Keys does show an ability to get on base and get hits. With the current prospects in the OF in front of Keys, not much to tell at this point in terms or projection.
There is a lot of raw hitting talent here now. The following should get promotions to see how they fare with advanced pitching at A Jupiter and to see if their numbers hold up there.
Jesus Solorzano – (OF) This kid is showing not only power but tremendous speed while manning the OF. He has 6 HRs and 16 SBs and is hitting .272/.329/.432 while amassing 51Ks vs. 15BBs. He could be a strong OF prospect moving forward as Yelich and Marisnick eventually make the jumps to the big league level.
Viosergy Rosa – (1B) Right now he is in a bit of a slump but he has shown very favorable power on the season thus far with 12 HRs. Although that jumps out at you, his plate discipline seems to be pretty solid as well. He has 54Ks with 31 BBs in his 211 ABs while hitting .256/.359/.483. While the Marlins have a lot of 1B laying around the big league level at the moment (Logan Morrison, Casey Kotchman, Joe Mahoney), Rosa will get time to mature his approach at the plate and fine tune his defense as well. Right now he is showing solid power at his position and if he can continue to develop plate discipline, he could be a hitter worth noting moving forward.
Cameron Flynn – (RF) Not showing much speed or power, Flynn continues to hit and impress. Currently he has a .353/.437/.485 slash line with a .922 OPS and in 136 ABs he has only 25 Ks against 18 BBs with 48 hits. He puts the ball in play and gets a larger percentage of those translated into hits. He may prove to be a strong candidate for a leadoff type hitter down the road.
Yordy Cabrera – (SS) Acquired in a trade with the A’s, Cabrera may end up playing 3B down the road. This gives the Marlins two prospects for their 3B vacancy (along with recently drafted Colin Moran) which could emerge as quickly as 2014 or 2015. Cabrera is providing some excitement as he has raised his numbers from his previous years across board. He currently is hitting .244/.326/.420 with 8 HRs. His plate discipline seems to be improving (46 Ks and 18 BBs) as well. If he can keep this up, a call up is very much in line for this season.