The Miami Marlins brought in four prospects for David Phelps earlier this week and are likely not done. At 42-51, they look destined for another losing season, so their focus will remain on the farm system. Fittingly, the Marlins are the subject of this week’s prospect update. Keep in mind that this list could change drastically over the next few weeks, even days, but right now here’s how their top 10 prospects have been doing this season.
10. James Nelson, 3B
Nelson has turned into one of the Marlins’ most exciting young prospects over the past two seasons. He was taken toward the end of the 2015 Draft, 15th round, and has since moved all the way to the 10th spot on the Marlins’ list. The 19-year-old is packed with tools, and they’ve started to show after his professional debut. Nelson has a great feel for hitting with solid contact and projectable power that should come with age. Originally a shortstop, he moved to third as a professional with ease.
2017 stats (Single-A Greensboro): 76 games, .315/.361/.463, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 33 R, 5 SB, 21 BB, 81 K.
After a great short-season professional debut last season, Nelson has picked up right where he left off. In 76 games he’s batting an impressive .315 and has shown great development with all his tools. His 21:81 BB:K is some cause for concern but is expected at just 19 years old. Nelson has really turned it on over his last 10 games with the Grasshoppers. He’s slashing .325/.333/.450 with five doubles and six RBI. It’ll be a while before Nelson gets a sniff of the Majors, but he’s projecting wonderfully. At the rate he’s going, he should at least earn a promotion before next season, maybe even before the end of this one.
9. Drew Steckenrider, RHP
Steckenrider was drafted by the Marlins as a starting pitcher in the eighth round of the 2012 Draft. He underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after and has since transitioned to the bullpen, where he has found his form. The righty’s fastball sits in the high 90s and has a wipe-out slider to go with it. The combo has helped him break out as a relief pitcher and has sent him flying through the Marlins’ system. He made his debut in late May and has performed well at the Major League level.
2017 stats (Triple-A New Orleans): 32.1 IP, 0-1, 1.67 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 8 BB, 42 K. (MLB Miami): 7.2 IP, 1-1, 3.52 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 4 BB, 9 K
The 26-year-old tore up Triple-A before making his MLB debut on May 24. Since then, he’s been a solid piece of the Marlins’ bullpen. In 7.2 innings, he’s struck out nine guys and has given up just three runs. Steckenrider hasn’t been used in the highest leverage situations yet, but with the recent Phelps trade, he should see his usage increase.
8. Stone Garrett, OF
The 21-year-old is looking like another late-round treasure for the Marlins. An eighth-rounder in 2014, Garrett now ranks as another top outfield prospect in the Marlins’ system. He’s an above-average power hitter with above-average speed along with a slew of other tools. He still has plenty of development ahead of him. Unfortunately, he’s dealt with some injuries thus far, including a knife prank-gone-wrong that has slowed his development. Still, Garrett has plenty of tools that could very well develop into something great if he can stay healthy and on track.
2017 stats (High-A Jupiter): 82 games, .183/.230/.273, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 33 R, 8 SB, 18 BB, 113 K.
A full season from Garrett was supposed to mean a breakout. However, 82 games into the season and Garrett is looking like a far different player in 2017. He’s batting just .183 and has struck out 113 times. He’s had trouble adjusting to High-A pitching, especially in the power department. He’s led two different leagues in homers in his career but has put just three over the fence this season. Garrett is still a talented young player who’s hopefully just having a bad season.
7. Thomas Jones, OF
The 2016 third-round Draft pick is believed by some to be the best all-around athlete in the Marlins’ system. The heralded “five-tool” description has been thrown around when talking about Jones as well. His best tool comes with his legs, as his speed rates well above-average. The only thing that has kept Jones from developing into a top-notch prospect was his commitment to two different sports. Now strictly focused on baseball, Jones is on his way to the very top of the Marlins’ prospect list.
2017 stats (Low-A Batavia): 26 games, .204/.325/.316, 11 RBI, 15 R, 12 BB, 37 K.
Jones hasn’t played great in his first taste of the New York-Penn League. He’s already struck out 37 times and is batting just over .200. He’s made very little use of his legs so far, stealing just one base in four tries. While he hasn’t put a ball over the fence yet, he has gone for extra bases eight times. Jones has five hits in his last 15 at-bats, including two triples.
6. Isael Soto, OF
Soto signed with the Marlins out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old. Now 20, Soto is one of the best outfield prospects in the Marlins’ system. He has great power and bat speed despite his size, which should improve even more as he ages. He has plenty of offensive potential but has missed a considerable amount of time due to injuries. A torn meniscus limited him to just 29 games in 2015, and he has dealt with injuries throughout 2017 as well. He was placed on the disabled list in April and hasn’t played in a single game all season.
2017 stats: Has not played.
5. Brayan Hernandez, OF
Hernandez was the headliner in the package of prospects the Marlins received in exchange for David Phelps. He was one of the top prospects in the 2014 international draft class and was making his way through the Mariners’ system before the trade. At just 19 years old, he’s already well ahead of the game with great instincts. He’s still growing into his power and is already a great contact hitter. Hernandez has above-average speed as well, so it’s not surprising the Marlins targeted him in the Phelps trade.
2017 stats: (Low-A Everett): 28 games, .252/.306/.408, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 9 R, 4 SB, 7 BB, 26 K. (Triple-A Tacoma): 3 games, .400/.400/.400, 1 SB
The 19-year-old had a quick stint at Triple-A before being sent to Low-A Everett. There, he’s had a solid year, batting .252 with a couple homers, 15 RBI, and four stolen bases. Right now, Hernandez is mostly just projection, but he has the potential to be a true five-tool player. He hasn’t joined his new team yet, but many expect him to end up with Low-A Batavia.
4. Dillon Peters, LHP
[the_ad id=”384″]Peters could have easily gone in the first few rounds of the 2011 and 2014 Drafts had it not been for an elbow injury in 2014. He underwent Tommy John surgery and was drafted by the Marlins in the 10th round of the 2014 Draft. Peters has all the makings of a great starting pitcher with the ability to keep hitters guessing, pitch deep into games, and limit walks. His fastball velocity has increased over the past year and currently sits around 96 with good movement. He also boasts a curveball and changeup in his arsenal, all of which he can control with ease.
2017 stats: (RK-GCL): 6.2 IP, 0-1, 1.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 4 BB, 6 K. (High-A Jupiter): 4.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 2 BB, 4 K. (Double-A Jacksonville): 12 IP, 2-1, 2.25 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 1 BB, 13 K.
The 24-year-old made two impressive starts at the Double-A level before fracturing his left thumb in his third outing. In the small sample size, he struck out 13 batters and walked just one in 12 innings. He has since been working his way back from the injury with three starts under his belt between two leagues. The injury was unfortunate luck for Peters, who was hit in the hand by a comebacker. He had a shot at cracking the big leagues this year before the injury but will need to work his way back up before being considered once again.
3. Brian Anderson, 3B
The Marlins made Anderson a third round Draft pick in 2014 out of Arkansas. He’s an advanced hitter with great contact ability, average power, and a great eye at the plate. He has the body and athleticism to play multiple positions, ultimately settling at third base after his professional debut. The 24-year-old has made his way through the Marlins’ system and has reached Triple-A New Orleans this year.
2017 stats: (Double-A Jacksonville): 87 games, .251/.341/.450, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 53 R, 36 BB, 71 K. (Triple-A New Orleans): 6 games, .350/.409/.650, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K.
Anderson performed well in Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans in mid-July. He showed off impressive power with 14 homers and knocked in 55 runs before the promotion. Since then, he’s only continued his power display. He’s batting .350 with two homers and six RBI in just six games at the Triple-A level. Anderson isn’t far off from an MLB promotion, and we could see him in the big leagues as early as next year.
2. Tyler Kolek, RHP
Kolek was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 Draft by the Marlins. He was a suitable fit for the first-overall selection but ultimately went to the Marlins and signed a franchise-record $6 million. The righty has great velocity on his fastball, sitting in the high-90s with excellent sinking action. His slider and changeup had already made some progress before an elbow injury last season. The injury resulted in Tommy John surgery and forced him to miss most of the last two seasons.
2017 stats: Has not played.
The 21-year-old just started his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Marlins on July 20. He lasted just a third of an inning, allowing four runs on a hit and walking two. It’s a long way back from Tommy John surgery, but Kolek has the talents to do so. He still has great fantasy value in dynasty formats despite being at least three years away from the Majors. Assuming his rehab goes according to plan, Kolek still projects as a mid-rotation starter.
1. Braxton Garrett, LHP
MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#35), Top 10 LHP Prospects (#3)
The Marlins liked Garrett so much that they took him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 Draft. He was considered one of the best high school pitchers in the class following a great senior campaign at Florence High. Both his fastball and curveball rate above-average with the latter being his best offering. His changeup could very well be an above-average pitch as well as he develops.
2017 stats: (Single-A Greensboro): 15.1 IP, 1-0, 2.93 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 6 BB, 16 K.
The Marlins have had unfortunate luck with their top two prospects in recent years. This year it was top prospect Garrett, who hit the DL with an elbow injury. That injury led to Tommy John surgery and will force Garrett to miss 12 to 14 months. While the lefty still has ace potential, he won’t be pitching in games until the second half of 2018, at the earliest.