5 Marlins from '21 Draft to watch in '22

December 8th, 2021

MIAMI -- The Marlins put together one of the more successful Draft classes this past July, as they continue to stockpile young talent. Below are five picks to keep tabs on in 2022.

When the prep star out of Wake Forest High School fell to the Marlins at No. 16 overall, the shortstop immediately became the already strong farm system's top-ranked prospect upon signing because of his Top 5 potential.

But Watson's professional debut stalled when he tweaked his hamstring eight games in. The 18-year-old then aggravated it a few days later and missed four weeks with a Grade 2 strain. As a result, the Marlins only got a taste of Watson's talent: He slashed .394/.524/.606 with three doubles, two triples and four steals in nine games at the Florida Complex League. He also walked more than he struck out against competition nearly two years older.

So it should come as no surprise that Watson's offseason goal is to get the hamstring right for his much-anticipated first full professional season in 2022. Asked at the organization's development camp in October whether there was a chip on his shoulder after how he fell in the Draft, Watson brushed it aside.

"It's something that I don't care about, because at the end of the day, that's just what got you here," Watson said. "Now, you've got to get through this process so that you can be in the big leagues. So this is not fazing me out at all."

Bennett Hostetler at the fall development camp (Photo by Joseph Guzy/Marlins)

C Bennett Hostetler
Selected in the 18th round out of North Dakota State, Hostetler quickly received a promotion from Low-A Jupiter to High-A Beloit after hitting .337/.369/.481 in 27 games. At the higher level, he solely played third base -- a spot he had appeared at just once in summer ball. Come October, the 24-year-old was listed as a catcher for the first time in his career.

Field coordinator Patrick Osborn pitched the idea during one of Hostetler's first days in Beloit, and he bought into it. The spiel included how the transition would be good for his career, especially a guy with his body type (6-foot, 195 pounds) as well as good feet and hands. How this transition plays out in 2022 makes the unranked prospect a player to look out for. Hostetler planned on spending the offseason working with a catching coach back home.

"It was weird, I'm not going to lie," Hostetler said. "Each time I get out there in the bullpen when we're doing drills, it gets a little bit more comfortable for me. Obviously, I'm not where I want to be yet, having it be not quite three weeks of it, but slowly but surely we're going to get there."

Cody Morissette at the fall development camp (Photo by Joseph Guzy/Marlins)

When the Marlins honored their Minor League MVPs on the final day of the regular season, Morissette was one of the 2021 MLB Draftees brought up by director of Minor League operations Geoff DeGroot. Morissette, who turns 22 on Jan. 16, started his career at Low-A Jupiter, where he slashed .204/.308/.299 in 34 games.

But those numbers are by no means representative of Morissette's hitting tool (a 55 grade on the 20-80 scale), which was a constant at Boston College and during summer ball to the tune of an .806 OPS. As the only two-time All-America in program history, he was considered one of the best collegiate hitters and a possible Day 1 pick because of his controlled approach and bat-to-ball skills.

Instead, Morissette fell to the Marlins in the second round. Miami's No. 18 prospect was able to receive more instruction at the fall development camp with the other players on the list. With a higher floor than most, time will tell if Morissette's bat translates.

"I feel like I can hit, I can really swing a baseball bat, and that's definitely a big strength in my game and something that I really pride myself on is making winning plays," Morissette said in July.

Jordan McCants at the fall development camp (Photo by Joseph Guzy/Marlins)

The Marlins are trying to build an organization that is strong up the middle across all levels. That's why monitoring McCants' progress is important, as the third-round pick saw time at both shortstop and second base in rookie ball.

Like Watson, McCants began his professional career at the FCL, though it wasn't injuries but a slow start that led to a slash line of .224/.286/.237 in 23 games. Miami's No. 19 prospect wasn't concerned since he expected to experience growing pains.

According to MLB Pipeline, the 19-year-old displays consistent contact from the left side of the plate, with a mature approach and an advanced ability to recognize pitches. The scouting report goes on to say McCants is similar to Morissette -- just with more power potential and speed (60 grade).

"It was kind of ups and downs," McCants said. "You've got to learn that this is pro ball, and it was going to happen. Struggles come with success, so a very good first year."

Joe Mack at the fall development camp (Photo by Joseph Guzy/Marlins)

Mack was one of the other names mentioned by DeGroot at season's end, and for good reason. The New York prep star became the highest catcher selected by the Marlins in 13 years when he was chosen 31st overall. Though Mack, who turns 19 on Dec. 27, is an advanced hitter with plus raw power, he hit .132/.373/.208 in 19 FCL games in his pro debut.

That didn't prevent Miami's eighth-ranked prospect from showcasing his plus arm and pop time, as he threw out 43 percent of would-be basestealers and didn't commit an error. Mack did record three passed balls in 78 innings behind the dish.

The Marlins have had some turnover at backstop over the past few months. They made an offseason trade for a starting catcher and acquired another two ahead of the July Deadline. An organization can never have enough catching depth, and Mack's progress will be one to follow.

"I feel that my job behind the plate is to lead the field, and help bring as much success as I can, and just have fun playing," Mack said in July.