A look at how Miami’s prospects fared in '23

October 17th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola’s Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Marlins weren't the only club within the organization to achieve success during the 2023 season.

Single-A Jupiter captured its first Florida State League title, while reigning Southern League champion Double-A Pensacola reached the finals for a second straight year. The Florida Complex League Marlins finished above .500, and Triple-A Jacksonville did the same in the second half.

That winning mentality was messaged up and down the system from Day 1 by new manager Skip Schumaker and now-former general manager Kim Ng.

"I think we wanted to put an emphasis on winning," director of Minor League operations Hector Crespo had said in September. "I think it starts with Kim, starts with Skip as far as what that looks like, and kind of knowing how to win from early in the system, so when they get here, that's the expectation. It's not good enough just to be in the big leagues. For us, we want to win games, which we're doing right now. So [we] really wanted to make that a point this year, and it's been cool to see kind of the fruits of that labor kind of come to fruition."

Because the big league club found itself in a postseason chase, the farm system's depth took a hit ahead of the Trade Deadline in order to acquire third baseman Jake Burger, first baseman Josh Bell, reliever David Robertson and left-hander Ryan Weathers. But that's part of the equation, having pieces at the front office's disposal to improve the club.

Here's a look at how Miami's system stands after the 2023 season, and who could make an impact in '24.

Three players who forced their way onto the radar this year

Dane Myers, OF/1B/3B (Miami's No. 13 prospect)
Myers, who Miami selected in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft last December, made his MLB debut seven months later in center field. Though Myers, 27, was playing in his fourth professional season, he didn't become a full-time position player until two years ago. Through his first 10 MLB games, he batted .444 with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs. Though the big leagues adjusted to him before he returned to Triple-A Jacksonville (.933 OPS), Myers has plus tools.

Troy Johnston, 1B (No. 22)
Miami risked not protecting Johnston ahead of last December's Rule 5 Draft, but he remained in the organization and had a career showing. Johnston, 26, was named the Marlins' Player of the Year after slashing .307/.399/.549 with 26 homers and an MiLB-high 116 RBIs between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Jacksonville. The left-handed-hitting Johnston played exclusively at first base, a position he converted to in 2022 to bolster the organizational depth, which was thin.

Anthony Maldonado, RHP (No. 25)
An 11th-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Maldonado might've received his first MLB callup in '23 had it not been for a hip injury in late June. Since arriving at the Triple-A level in '22, the 25-year-old has posted a 1.76 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP with 12 saves and a 13.4 K/9 rate. According to MLB Pipeline, Maldonado's slider is his best pitch, and he pairs it with a low-90s sinker that tops out at 96 mph to produce ground balls.

Two possible breakout players to watch in 2024

Fabian Lopez, SS (No. 14)
Part of January's international signing class, the Dominican-born Lopez slashed .265/.327/.405 in 49 games in the Dominican Summer League during his age-17 season. The switch-hitter has the potential to be a Gold Glove-winning shortstop, per MLB Pipeline. When Lopez gains more muscle, he has the potential for 15-20 homers.

Andres Valor, OF (No. 24)
The 17-year-old Venezuelan was also part of January's international signing class. He was named DSL Miami's MVP after slashing .294/.360/.466 with 23 extra-base hits and 21 steals in 51 games. Valor uses his speed to cover ground in center field and be active on the basepaths. At 6-foot-3, Valor is built to hit for power.

One big question for next season

During the 2023 season, homegrown pitchers Eury Pérez, Andrew Nardi and George Soriano made an immediate impact for the postseason-bound club. Xavier Edwards and Myers had moments of stepping up.

But is there a game-changing bat on the horizon? It feels like we keep asking this every year. Johnston proved himself at the highest Minor League level, so perhaps it's him. No. 4 prospect Jacob Berry hasn't broken out since being selected sixth overall in the 2022 MLB Draft. After missing time with a right foot contusion in '23, he has gotten off to a fast start in the Arizona Fall League (a .313/.405/.406 slash line in eight games).