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Marlins round out roster by adding 7 players

MLB.com

MIAMI -- A year ago, the Marlins overhauled their roster, trading core and All-Star players for coveted prospects. More than 30 new players were brought into the system through trades that dated back to June 2017.

On Tuesday, three of those top-ranked Minor Leaguers moved closer to reaching the big leagues. Outfielder Monte Harrison, right-hander Jorge Guzman and second baseman Isan Diaz were among seven players who had their contracts selected. They are now part of Miami's 40-man roster, which is full.

MIAMI -- A year ago, the Marlins overhauled their roster, trading core and All-Star players for coveted prospects. More than 30 new players were brought into the system through trades that dated back to June 2017.

On Tuesday, three of those top-ranked Minor Leaguers moved closer to reaching the big leagues. Outfielder Monte Harrison, right-hander Jorge Guzman and second baseman Isan Diaz were among seven players who had their contracts selected. They are now part of Miami's 40-man roster, which is full.

Per Pipeline, Harrison is ranked second, Guzman sixth and Diaz ninth. There is a chance of these three could reach the big leagues in 2019.

Marlins Top 30 prospects

Also added to the roster are right-handers Jordan Yamamoto, Jordan Holloway and Kyle Keller, as well as lefty Jose Quijada.

Miami also announced hard-throwing right-hander Julian Fernandez was claimed off waivers from the Giants on Monday. Fernandez, who turns 23 on Dec. 5, is coming off Tommy John surgery, and he missed all of 2018. He will have to spend the entire season either on the active roster or the disabled list to remain in the Marlins' organization.

Miami entered the day with four openings on the 40-man roster, so three corresponding moves were necessary. Outfielder Braxton Lee, right-hander Ben Meyer and lefty Dillon Peters were designated for assignment.

On Tuesday all 30 clubs had to add players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft to their 40-man roster if they wanted to protect them.

The Rule 5 Draft is scheduled for Dec. 13, on the morning of the final day of the Winter Meetings, which begin on Dec. 10 in Las Vegas.

By rule, players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2014 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the 2015 Draft is in the same position.

With no roster spaces available, the Marlins left unprotected three of their top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Infielder Christopher Torres (No. 18), outfielder Brayan Hernandez (No. 26) and left-hander McKenzie Mills (No. 30) are now eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft.

Last year, the Marlins were active in the Major League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, selecting right-handers Elieser Hernandez from the Astros and Brett Graves from the A's.

The Marlins acquired Harrison, Guzman and Diaz through trades last offseason. Harrison and Diaz, along with Yamamoto were part of the Christian Yelich deal with the Brewers.

Guzman was a centerpiece in the Giancarlo Stanton deal with the Yankees.

Harrison spent the season at Double-A Jacksonville, where he batted .240 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs. The 23-year-old was a standout in the Arizona Fall League, batting .290 with a .383 on-base percentage and 16 RBIs.

Guzman, one of the hardest throwers in the system, spent the season at Class A Advanced Jupiter, where he had a 4.03 ERA in 21 starts, and struck out 101 in 96 innings. With a 100 mph fastball, Guzman is expected to open the season at Double-A.

Diaz advanced from Double-A to Triple-A New Orleans in '18, combining for 13 home runs and 56 RBIs, to go with a slash line of .232/.340/.399.

Fernandez, a native of the Dominican Republic, has had his fastball clocked at 100 mph. At the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, he was selected by the Giants off the Rockies' roster. But in Spring Training, he suffered a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery on March 29. Fernandez must be on the roster (but he could serve time on the disabled list) for the entire 2019 season.

According to Marlins' data, Fernandez's average fastball velocity in 2017 was 98.4 mph, and he topped at 103 mph.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Isan Diaz, Jorge Guzman, Monte Harrison

Impactful Harrison making strides in AFL

Miami's No. 2 prospect putting ball in play more consistently
MLB.com

MIAMI -- For Monte Harrison, his raw power, speed and athleticism have always been obvious. The major question about the Marlins outfield prospect is whether he can make enough contact to be truly impactful.

Harrison has provided some answers playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He has been putting the ball in play with more consistency, and the results have been impressive.

MIAMI -- For Monte Harrison, his raw power, speed and athleticism have always been obvious. The major question about the Marlins outfield prospect is whether he can make enough contact to be truly impactful.

Harrison has provided some answers playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He has been putting the ball in play with more consistency, and the results have been impressive.

The 23-year-old is batting .308 with a .403 on-base percentage, two doubles, one triple and 16 RBIs in 17 games. In 65 at-bats, he has struck out 16 times and drawn 10 walks.

Tweet from @wboor: #Marlins prospects also contributing with the bat. Here���s a two-run triple from Monte Harrison. @MLBPipeline pic.twitter.com/7uqyMGEdwi

A power threat, Harrison likely will always deal with swings and misses in his game. It's a matter of how much he can reduce his strikeouts that will tell when he is big league-ready.

Harrison is expected to be added to the Marlins' 40-man roster this offseason, and he will be in Spring Training camp with the Major League club. While making the Opening Day roster may be a long shot, he projects to start off at Triple-A New Orleans. If Harrison performs there, a big league callup is realistic around midseason.

What's encouraging is Harrison is showing positive signs this fall playing in Arizona. One reason is he has adjusted his swing from his 2018 season at Double-A Jacksonville, where he fanned 215 times in 521 at-bats.

Before heading to Arizona, Harrison refined his mechanics while working out at the Marlins' Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Most noticeable is Harrison scrapped the high front leg kick he used during the Double-A season. He has been using more of a front foot pivot as a timing mechanism.

Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill noted that all of the Minor League players were given a personalized plan with objectives to work on in the offseason.

Tweet from @MLBazFallLeague: Sooo, we had some fun today during batting practice: @Team_Harrison3 pic.twitter.com/lDhcOLu9RU

For Harrison, it was pretty straight forward: Put the ball in play more. The data shows that when he does, he can be a force. According to the Marlins' internal metrics, 20 percent of the balls Harrison put in play had an exit velocity of 105 mph or higher. For context, the MLB average is seven percent.

"We have player plans where we look at their areas of improvement and what they need to do to continue to get better and make it to the big leagues," Hill said. "It was no secret that we're trying to cut down on the strikeouts for Monte and get his swing a little more under control so that he could have more contact, and make more impact, and do more damage."

Salt River is the only park in the Arizona Fall League that has Statcast™ readings. In Harrison's home games, 55.6 percent of the balls he has put in play (10 of 18) had an exit velocity of greater than 100 mph. He's 7-for-10 on those struck balls, including a high of 114.6 mph.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 2 prospect, Harrison went through a transition year in 2018.

A potential five-tool talent, Harrison was acquired by the Marlins from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade.

A three-sport standout at Lee's Summit West High School in Missouri, Harrison turned down an opportunity to play football at the University of Nebraska to begin his professional baseball career.

Harrison dealt with injuries in 2015-16 before combining to bat .272/.350/.481 with 21 home runs and 67 RBIs at two levels of Class A ball in '17.

The Marlins kept Harrison at Double-A Jacksonville for the entire 2018 season, where he was refining his swing but using a high front leg kick. Hitting was a work in progress, with Harrison finishing .240/.316/.399 with 19 home runs, 48 RBIs and 28 stolen bases.

Video: Marlins prospect Harrison on playing under new regime

An underlying issue all season were the 215 strikeouts and just 44 walks in 136 games and 583 plate appearances.

Harrison's strikeout percentage was 36.9, and his walk percentage was 7.5.

"As he finished his Double-A season and reported to Jupiter prior to reporting to Arizona, it was something that we discussed with him," Hill said. "Eliminating the higher leg kick kept him a little more under control and kept his swing a little more under control.

"He's a young player that we still believe has tremendous upside, and we're excited to see him continue his improvement and for him to get better."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Monte Harrison

How does Mesa change Marlins' outfield for '19?

Top international prospect joins Brinson, Sierra, Harrison, others in high-upside unit
MLB.com

MIAMI -- Victor Victor Mesa projects to be a major part of the Marlins' outfield of the future, but what does his arrival mean for the organization in 2019?

Miami has deepened its outfield over the past two seasons, acquiring in trades players like Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison. Mesa joins the mix, but still there is uncertainty how the three outfield spots will shape up next year. There are no fewer than eight players who are in the mix to either open 2019 with the big league club or join the roster at some point during the season.

MIAMI -- Victor Victor Mesa projects to be a major part of the Marlins' outfield of the future, but what does his arrival mean for the organization in 2019?

Miami has deepened its outfield over the past two seasons, acquiring in trades players like Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison. Mesa joins the mix, but still there is uncertainty how the three outfield spots will shape up next year. There are no fewer than eight players who are in the mix to either open 2019 with the big league club or join the roster at some point during the season.

"That's our goal, to get better and add as much talent as we can, and put ourselves in position to where we can bring a championship back to South Florida," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.

On Monday, the Marlins took a step in that direction by signing Mesa, 22, and his brother Victor Mesa Jr., a 17-year-old outfielder.

Video: Mesa brothers introduced as newest Marlins by Jeter

The brothers defected from Cuba in May, and were immediately on the Marlins' radar. In Victor Victor -- MLB Pipeline's No. 1 international prospect -- they envision a five-tool talent with a skill set, in their opinion, similar to touted Nationals' outfielder Victor Robles.

"When you think about what Victor Victor represents, he's a five-tool player," Hill said. "It fits what we've done through our trades [and] through our Draft picks on the amateur side: Athletic. Above-average bat. Above-average runner. Above-average defender. Above-average throwing arm. Fits very well with the type of player that we like."

Video: Hill discusses impact of Mesa brothers on Marlins

The Marlins anticipate the elder Mesa being in big league camp in Spring Training, and he likely will open 2019 either at Class A Advanced Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville. If he performs there, it will be only a matter of time before he gets called up to the big leagues. So it's not out of the question that at some point next season -- most likely in the second half -- Mesa could be playing in Miami.

However his situation plays out, the Marlins have some interesting outfield scenarios to consider heading into Spring Training.

Based on the current roster, the frontrunners to start the season with the big league club are Brinson, Austin Dean and Derek Dietrich. If he doesn't start at third base, there is a possibility that Brian Anderson could be in right field, a position he appeared at in 91 games this year.

Sierra may also be in the mix, but the 22-year-old speedster struggled after being brought up this year, and he may start off at Triple-A New Orleans. Sierra appeared in 54 games with Miami, and batted .190. He's currently playing winter ball for Toros del Este in the Dominican Republic. In his first seven games, he hit .400.

For now, Brinson is the favorite to start in center, but the 24-year-old will have to perform. He comes off a rough 2018 in which he hit .199 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs. He showed moderate improvement after the All-Star break, hitting .239/.263/.337.

Video: MIA@PHI: Brinson plates Dietrich with an RBI triple

In terms of his raw ability to impact the baseball, Brinson did show encouraging signs as the season progressed, even if it wasn't shown by his standard statistics. For instance, according to Statcast™, his hard-hit percentage on balls in play since June 1 was 43.2 percent, which is the highest on the team over that span. Hard-hit rate are balls with exit velocities of 95 mph or above.

Mesa, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 1 prospect, may move fast through the system. So might Harrison, ranked second by Pipeline, who could also reach the big leagues next year.

Harrison is impressing in the Arizona Fall League, batting .375 with a .474 on-base percentage in nine games. The 23-year-old had a single on Tuesday night that was clocked off the bat at 114.6 mph. Although he struck out 215 times at Double-A Jacksonville this year, Harrison belted 19 home runs. The question is if he can make enough consistent contact to be impactful.

Video: Harrison on improving in the Arizona Fall League

According to the Marlins' data, 20 percent of the balls Harrison put in play had exit velocities of 105 mph or higher. The MLB average is seven percent.

Another prospect who may make the leap to Triple-A and even Miami next year is Brian Miller. A left-handed hitter who plays center field, Miller combined to hit .295 with a .338 on-base percentage at Jupiter and Jacksonville. He is a top-of-the-order option who swiped 40 bases in the Minor Leagues this year, and he's also fine tuning his game in the Fall League.

Video: Marlins prospect Miller on developing his game

The Marlins have plenty of outfield options. Now, it's a matter of which players show they are ready.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Magneuris Sierra

Mesa signings show new approach for Marlins

Club hopes to leverage multi-ethnic appeal of Miami to be more aggressive in international market
MLB.com

MIAMI -- Signing the Mesa brothers not only adds two potentially impactful position players to the Marlins' system, it also sends a signal that the organization intends to be aggressive in the international market.

In previous years, that hasn't always been the case, as Miami didn't allocate as many resources or show as strong a commitment to acquiring top international talent. That philosophy has changed.

MIAMI -- Signing the Mesa brothers not only adds two potentially impactful position players to the Marlins' system, it also sends a signal that the organization intends to be aggressive in the international market.

In previous years, that hasn't always been the case, as Miami didn't allocate as many resources or show as strong a commitment to acquiring top international talent. That philosophy has changed.

On Monday, the Marlins made their biggest international free agent splash in almost two decades -- announcing the signings of outfielders Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr. The two defected from Cuba in May, and Miami made a strong push to land them both after Major League Baseball declared them free agents.

"Historically, this organization hasn't really invested in the international market, but that's something we wanted to do moving forward," Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said.

Video: Derek Jeter discusses Marlins signing Mesa brothers

Not since Miguel Cabrera signed for around $2 million in 1999 have the Marlins made an international signing as high-profile as the Mesa brothers. Victor Victor, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 international prospect, and he is ranked as Miami's new No. 1 overall prospect. His brother, 17, is still a relatively unknown, but his talents were evident during an Oct. 5 showcase at Marlins Park.

Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million, and Victor Jr., signed for $1 million.

Video: Victor Victor Mesa discusses signing with Marlins

The Marlins ownership group, headed by Bruce Sherman and Jeter, are now making international signings a priority.

Why not?

With its large Cuban community, the Marlins feel they have a geographical and cultural advantage over many clubs. Miami's diversity was certainly used as a sales pitch to the Mesa brothers. Even their showcase was in Miami.

"Look, if that's an advantage for us, we need to use it," Jeter said. "And it is. A lot of the international players would love to come here and play in Miami. Any so-called advantage that you have, you have to use it. These players were very comfortable when they came here to Miami, and I know that they are looking forward to the day they can be here at the Major League level."

"It's not a secret: There are a lot of Latinos here, a lot of Cubans, so we feel like home here," Victor Victor said through an interpreter. "But mostly, the seriousness, the plan that this organization has, the way that they've been working with us is one of the things that really attracted us the most."

Video: The Mesa brothers are are welcomed to Miami

Giving themselves the best chance to signing the brothers took some work. The Marlins made three trades this month to boost their international bonus pool from $4.3 million to almost $6.6 million. That put them on equal footing with the Orioles as the two franchises with the most dollars to spend. When offers are financially similar, the Marlins think they can use the draw of Miami as an advantage.

"From the beginning, with the new ownership group, you sit down with Mr. Sherman and Derek, and you tell them where we can improve, and where we can get better," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We had not been very active internationally. We knew that was an area we needed to get better. We're the Gateway to the Americas, as Derek said. We should be aggressive and competitive when it comes to international talent.

Video: Hill discusses impact of Mesa brothers on Marlins

"That's what we did from the second we heard the brothers were going to be available. We put ourselves in the best position possible to make them Marlins. Making trades that included international money, and it put us in a position where we could be aggressive and get, in our opinion, two impactful position players and add them to our system."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Marlins make big splash, ink Mesa brothers

No. 1 international prospect Victor Victor signed for $5.25 million
MLB.com

MIAMI -- The Marlins have become major players on the international stage.

After nearly two decades of not dabbling significantly in Latin American prospects, the Marlins on Monday announced the signings of Cuban outfield prospects Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., sending a signal to the industry that Miami intends to be active on the international front.

MIAMI -- The Marlins have become major players on the international stage.

After nearly two decades of not dabbling significantly in Latin American prospects, the Marlins on Monday announced the signings of Cuban outfield prospects Victor Victor Mesa and Victor Mesa Jr., sending a signal to the industry that Miami intends to be active on the international front.

The brothers were introduced at a news conference attended by Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Michael Hill.

Video: Derek Jeter discusses Marlins signing Mesa brothers

"From Day One, we stressed as an organization, the importance of building this organization with depth in the Minor League system, and the need to invest in the international market," Jeter said. "Today, we have done just that. We have had the opportunity to sign two of the top prospects in the international class."

• Marlins changed their Twitter name to celebrate

Victor Victor, 22, is considered to be Double-A ready, but the Marlins will wait to see how he performs in big league camp in Spring Training before deciding where he will start off in 2019. This offseason, he may play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Video: Victor Victor Mesa discusses signing with Marlins

Victor Jr., 17, has been a switch-hitter, who likely will hit exclusively left-handed in pro ball. He likely will get some playing time in a few weeks with the Marlins' Dominican instructional league squad.

According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Victor Victor will receive about $5.25 million, and his younger brother agreed to $1 million.

"Since they left Cuba, it's just been training for them," Hill said. "We're excited that they're signed now. We're going to continue the discussion of what's next for them, because it's late October now. We do have our Dominican instructional league that just started, and the Dominican Winter League is going on. We still have to decide what's next, but the first part of it was making them Marlins."

Victor Victor is ranked No. 1 on the international prospects list by MLB Pipeline.

Video: Top International Prospects: Victor Victor Mesa, OF

Signing the Mesa brothers is the Marlins' biggest international free-agent splash since securing the services of Miguel Cabrera as a 16-year-old from Venezuela in 1999. Cabrera came to terms for around $2 million, and he's gone on to build Hall of Fame-worthy credentials.

"I'm just very proud to be part of the organization, and be part of the city," Victor Victor said through an interpreter. "All the culture here is one of the things I like the most."

For the Marlins, the signings are expected to help the organization on and off the field, in a market that has a large Cuban community. But Jeter added that ultimately, it is about putting a winner on the field.

"They're both great players," Jeter said. "Obviously, on the business side [it helps], but the bottom line is we feel like we got two of the top players on the international market. We're going to invest in international talent. We're not just doing it to appease fans. We're doing it because we want these players to come up and perform and help us win.

Exactly what to expect from the Mesas is still relatively unknown, because the two departed from Cuba in May, and there isn't a long history of evaluations on either of them.

Victor Victor batted .354 with seven home runs and 40 stolen bases in the 2016-17 season for Serie Nacional in Cuba. In the '17 World Baseball Classic, he was 3-for-7 with two doubles.

Victor Jr., hit .320 (8-for-25) for the Cuban 18U team in the 2017 World Cup.

Video: Hill discusses impact of Mesa brothers on Marlins

What is known is that the Mesa brothers have strong baseball bloodlines. Their father, Victor Mesa Sr., was a star outfielder in Cuba for nearly two decades. He's also been a longtime coach on the island.

"I think this was a family decision," Hill said. "You're talking about two very talented brothers. You could see that the dad was very proud of both, and we're very happy we were able to get both."

The general opinion is if Victor Victor had been in the June MLB Draft, he would have been considered a first-round talent.

Instagram from @victormesajr10: A legend of baseball 🙏⚾️ #mikelowell

On Friday night, Victor Victor Mesa posted a photo on Instagram of himself and his brother sitting in the Marlins' clubhouse. The two held the Cuban flag, and behind them were white Marlins jerseys, sporting their names and the No. 32.

Instagram from @victorvictormesa: 5 de octubre 2018Representando 🇨 #victorvictormesa

The picture was taken on Oct. 5 when the Mesa brothers and fellow Cuban prospect Sandy Gaston held their showcase for more than 75 scouts at Marlins Park.

To secure their services, the Marlins made three trades in October to acquire international bonus pool money. Earlier in the month, they dealt Minor League right-hander Ryan Lillie to the Reds for $750,000 and a few days later sent reliever Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for $1 million.

Video: Victor Mesa Jr. talks about signing with Marlins

Last Tuesday, prospects Adonis Gaston and Brayan De Paula were dealt to the Astros for $500,000.

The three trades boosted Miami from $4.3 million of international pool money to around $6.55 million. Only the Orioles had about the same amount of bonus money to spend.

With Miami's large Cuban community, the Marlins sold to the Mesa brothers that the market was a natural fit for them.

"When I was doing the showcase, I was thinking this could someday be my park," Victor Jr. said in Spanish.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Yamamoto continues hot start in Fall League

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Marlins No. 16 prospect Jordan Yamamato has come a long way.

The right-hander started the season with Class A Advanced Jupiter and was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville before the end of the year. In a stellar 2018 campaign, Yamamoto posted a 1.83 ERA in 68 2/3 innings across three levels in the Minors.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Marlins No. 16 prospect Jordan Yamamato has come a long way.

The right-hander started the season with Class A Advanced Jupiter and was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville before the end of the year. In a stellar 2018 campaign, Yamamoto posted a 1.83 ERA in 68 2/3 innings across three levels in the Minors.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

And now, with the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, he's picked up where he left off a season ago -- getting outs.

Yamamoto tossed three innings against the Mesa Solar Sox on Wednesday night in his second AFL start, allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out six. He has given up five hits in six innings so far in the Fall League, allowing only one run and striking out 11.

After the outing, Yamamoto said the reason for his success isn't complicated.

"Just learning to pitch, just learning who I am and what I can do and using that to my advantage," Yamamoto said. "Throwing the ball in the zone, getting hitters out, trusting my defense and let the bats do their work."

Yamamoto's repertoire is focused on movement featuring a fastball topping out in the low 90s. His high tempo is an emphasis as a crafty pitcher who constantly attack hitters.

"I like to work fast. ... I'm not trying to be out here for 3 1/2 hours, I don't think anyone wants to be out here for 3 1/2 hours," Yamamoto said. "A hitter is going to get himself out seven out of 10 times, and that's a Hall of Famer, so my advantage is to throw the ball in the zone and hopefully it all goes well."

Yamamato got some offensive help from the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, Monte Harrison, early in the game.

Harrison sharply grounded a ball up the middle for an RBI single in the first inning and later scored to increase Salt River's lead to 3-0. He added a second RBI single on a ground ball through the left side of the infield in the seventh.

Harrison's two-hit night increased his average to .318, and he now has six RBIs in the Fall League.

Both Yamamoto and Harrison were part of the trade that sent Christian Yelich to the Brewers prior to the start of the season. And both could potentially be a big part of the Marlins' future as the franchise continues to rebuild.

Jake Trybulski is a senior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Miami Marlins, Jordan Yamamoto

Marlins trade Barraclough to Nats, eye Cuban stars

Miami deals reliever for international bonus-pool value
MLB.com

MIAMI -- The Marlins continued to get a head start on the Hot Stove season on Wednesday, dealing right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money. It was the Marlins' second trade in four days to build up more international dollars for their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston.

Miami dealt right-handed prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds, also for international pool money, on Saturday. Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, the second most of any team. Only the Orioles, at $6.7 million, have more. How much that gap has narrowed isn't yet known.

MIAMI -- The Marlins continued to get a head start on the Hot Stove season on Wednesday, dealing right-hander Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money. It was the Marlins' second trade in four days to build up more international dollars for their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston.

Miami dealt right-handed prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds, also for international pool money, on Saturday. Before the two deals, the Marlins had $4.3 million in their international allotment, the second most of any team. Only the Orioles, at $6.7 million, have more. How much that gap has narrowed isn't yet known.

Victor Victor Mesa, 22, and Victor Jr., 18, are both outfielders. Gaston is a 16-year-old right-hander. Victor Victor Mesa is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top international player on the market, and Gaston is ranked 16th. Major League Baseball recently cleared the three players as free agents, and on Friday they had a showcase in front of about 75 scouts at Marlins Park.

Barraclough, 28, had an uneven and perplexing 2018, going 1-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 61 appearances. He saved 10 of 17 chances. The right-hander became the Marlins' closer in the first half and had a 1.28 ERA in 42 1/3 innings before the All-Star break. In June, he was named the National League Reliever of the Month, not allowing a run and allowing just two hits in 11 2/3 innings. But in the second half, his ERA ballooned to 13.50 in 13 1/3 innings and was 1-for-5 in save chances.

The Marlins acquired Barraclough from the Cardinals in 2015, and in four seasons, he is 15-12 with a 3.21 ERA with 11 saves in 27 chances. The Marlins entertained trade possibilities for him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July. The 28-year-old is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this offseason.

With Barraclough's departure, right-hander Drew Steckenrider is the Marlins' projected closer heading into the Hot Stove season.

Ziegler retires
Former Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler announced his retirement on Wednesday, his 39th birthday. The right-handed submarine-style pitcher opened the season as Miami's closer, but was dealt to the D-backs in July for right-hander Tommy Eveld, who currently is pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Ziegler signed a two-year contract with the Marlins in December 2016.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Kyle Barraclough

Marlins deal prospect to Reds, clear int'l money

Right-hander Lillie on move as Miami eyes Cuban trio
MLB.com

MIAMI -- On Saturday, the Marlins announced a Minor League trade that could have major implications in their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston.

Miami dealt right-hander Ryan Lillie, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, to the Reds for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money.

MIAMI -- On Saturday, the Marlins announced a Minor League trade that could have major implications in their pursuit of Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa, his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and Sandy Gaston.

Miami dealt right-hander Ryan Lillie, a fifth-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, to the Reds for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money.

Video: Top Prospects: Ryan Lillie, RHP, Marlins

The Marlins have strong interest in signing the two Mesa brothers and Gaston, who were recently declared free agents by Major League Baseball. The three worked out Friday in front of about 75 scouts at Marlins Park.

All 30 big league clubs were invited to Friday's showcase, which lasted about three hours. Victor Victor Mesa, 22, and Victor Jr., 17, are both outfielders, and Gaston is a hard-throwing 16-year-old right-hander, whose fastball maxed out at 97 mph during the workout.

Trading Lillie boosts the Marlins' international bonus pool allotment, which was $4.3 million before the trade. Only the Orioles at $6.7 million have more bonus money than Miami.

The Marlins are also exploring other trades for additional international bonus money.

The Marlins have repeatedly stated that they intend to be aggressive in the Latin American market. With Miami's large Cuban-community, the club is targeting additional Cuban prospects and selling to them the advantages of living and playing in South Florida.

After Friday's workout, the Mesa brothers and Gaston sent out photos via their social media platforms wearing Marlins uniforms and caps.

Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter and other top club executives dined with the three Cuban prospects Friday.

Victor Victor Mesa played in the 2017 World Baseball Classic for Cuba, and his younger brother was on Cuba's 18-under national team.

Lillie, 22, pitched at three levels in 2018 -- combining for a 3.44 ERA in 22 starts. He spent most of the season at Class A Greensboro, going 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 80 1/3 innings. The right-hander who attended the University of California-Riverside, also made seven starts at Class A Advanced Jupiter, with a 4.93 ERA in 34 2/3 innings.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Miami hopes for home advantage with Mesas

Club will host workout for brothers from Cuba and RHP Gaston on Friday
MLB.com

MIAMI -- The Marlins are hoping that Marlins Park gives them a homefield advantage when it comes to signing Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr. And the organization hasn't ruled out also landing right-hander Sandy Gaston.

Major League Baseball recently declared all three free agents, and on Friday they will participate in a showcase at Marlins Park in which all 30 clubs are invited.

MIAMI -- The Marlins are hoping that Marlins Park gives them a homefield advantage when it comes to signing Cuban prospects Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr. And the organization hasn't ruled out also landing right-hander Sandy Gaston.

Major League Baseball recently declared all three free agents, and on Friday they will participate in a showcase at Marlins Park in which all 30 clubs are invited.

The workout is not open to the media nor the public.

The Marlins have made no secret that they are particularly interested in the Mesa brothers, and there is a chance the club may also sign Gaston. They're also looking to be more active in the international market.

Video: Top International Prospects: Sandy Gaston, RHP

"We're the Miami Marlins and our stadium is in Little Havana," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "Miami is the gateway to the Americas, and it just made so much sense to everyone to host this workout."

The Marlins are using Miami's diversity and the fact it has a large Cuban community to help attract players born in Latin America.

This year, the Marlins also have the financial resources to make major international signings. They have $4.3 million in international bonus pool money. Only the Orioles, with $6.7 million, have more.

Because the three have been cleared as free agents, they can sign at any time.

Under the directive of Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter, the Marlins have invested more resources into their international operations. They are in the process of making significant upgrades to their facility in the Dominican Republic and, in about a week, they will conduct an instructional league camp for their Minor Leaguers in the Dominican Republic that will run until Thanksgiving.

"In the past, our international budgets really weren't where we needed to be," Hill said. "We didn't maximize that area of talent acquisitions. It's something that, under new ownership, they understand that international talent -- all talent -- is important when you're trying to build a championship organization, and we're going to leave no stone unturned."

Victor Victor Mesa, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 international prospect, and Gaston is No. 16.

Video: Sanchez discusses Cuban standout Victor Victor Mesa

Mesa played on Cuba's 2017 World Baseball Classic club. Mesa Jr., 17, was a standout outfielder on the Cuban 18U national team. Their father, Victor Mesa Sr., played nearly two decades on the Cuban national team, and he's been a long-time manager on the island.

Gaston, 16, is a right-hander who throws 97 mph.

The Marlins have a few homegrown international signings on their current roster. Most notable is right-hander Jose Urena, their 2018 Opening Day starter.

From the Dominican Republic, Urena signed with the Marlins in 2008, and he says he has a comfort level playing in South Florida.

"Fans support you, like when we have the Heritage Days," Urena said. "You see the crowds they have for those games. It's a special game for them, so they show up."

Video: Dominican Heritage Night 2018

Miguel Rojas, from Venezuela, was traded to the Marlins from the Dodgers after the 2014 season. The veteran infielder makes South Florida his home year-round, and he sees a benefit in targeting players from Latin America.

"I have my family close to Miami," Rojas said. "There's a lot of the same culture we grew up with in Venezuela now in Miami. You feel like you're at home. That's why I feel like the more Latin players we can have in Miami, it's even better for the organization. I feel it will be more impactful in the community, too."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Guzman highlights instructional league game

Marlins prospects get opportunity to play Nats at Marlins Park
MLB.com

MIAMI -- The developmental process ramped up to another level for many Marlins prospects on Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time, the Marlins used their big league park to host an instructional league game. Rather than face the Nationals' instructional league team on a back field in Palm Beach County, the two squads played to a 1-1 tie in 10 innings at Marlins Park.

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MIAMI -- The developmental process ramped up to another level for many Marlins prospects on Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time, the Marlins used their big league park to host an instructional league game. Rather than face the Nationals' instructional league team on a back field in Palm Beach County, the two squads played to a 1-1 tie in 10 innings at Marlins Park.

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The roof was open, and the game matched two touted right-handers. The Marlins started hard-throwing right-hander Jorge Guzman, while Mason Denaburg went for Washington.

Guzman, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 5 prospect, was acquired from the Yankees last offseason as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade. Denaburg, the No. 27 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is the Nationals' No. 4 prospect.

Guzman threw three perfect innings, striking out four. Of his 34 pitches, 23 were strikes. Denaburg threw an inning, walking two and allowing an unearned run.

At Class A Advanced Jupiter, Guzman threw 96 innings and posted a 4.03 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 64 walks.

"We knew that was going to be a big challenge for him," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "For Jorge, it's all about fastball command. When he learns to command his fastball, he's going to move very quickly in this organization. He spent a good year in the Florida State League."

Video: Top Prospects: Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins

Guzman will be added to the 40-man roster in the October and likely will open the 2019 season at Double-A Jacksonville.

"He did a lot better job of learning how to throw his changeup, and when to throw his changeup, and when to throw his secondary pitches," Denbo said. "It was a great development year for [Guzman]. We look for big things from him in the future."

The coveted prospect noted that he focused more on his offspeed pitches with the Hammerheads than his other pitches.

"They improved, because in Jupiter, my curve and my change were not consistent," Guzman said through a interpreter. "Now, I'm learning how to get them over for strikes more consistently as well as my fastball."

Six of the Marlins' starters on Wednesday are on the organization's Top 30 Prospects list: Guzman, shortstop Jose Devers (12), third baseman James Nelson (14), second baseman Christopher Torres (17), center fielder Thomas Jones (18) and outfielder Brayan Hernandez (25).

"It's an exciting day for these young men and our staff, as well," Denbo said. "For a lot of these players, it's the first time ever they've stepped onto a Major League field. It's important for us, from a player development standpoint, to get these guys out here and get comfortable."

More than just the playing field, Wednesday's game was also an opportunity for the young players to familiarize themselves with Marlins Park.

"Where to go to get into the clubhouse, the feel of the dugout, the feel for the mound, the batter's box, and how you see the ball here, and all those things," Denbo said. "A lot of the guys here, over the next few years, will be playing here for the first time for real. We feel like this is a good experience for them."

Worth noting
• Shortstop Osiris Johnson is dealing with a stress reaction to his right leg. The 17-year-old, Miami's second-round pick in June's MLB Draft, has been wearing a walking boot. He will rest for several more weeks, but should be ready for Spring Training. Johnson is the Marlins' No. 13 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

• Braxton Garrett, the club's No. 9 prospect, is throwing off the mound in the instructional league, but he is not expected to pitch in games. The left-hander is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Jorge Guzman

Alcantara labors for 2nd straight start vs. Nats

Organization's top pitching prospect struggles with command over four innings in rainy opener
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The elements created soggy conditions on Monday night at Nationals Park. But the bigger issue for Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantara was getting through the heart of the Nationals' lineup.

Alcantara surrendered back-to-back homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 7-3 loss in the series opener.

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WASHINGTON -- The elements created soggy conditions on Monday night at Nationals Park. But the bigger issue for Marlins rookie Sandy Alcantara was getting through the heart of the Nationals' lineup.

Alcantara surrendered back-to-back homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 7-3 loss in the series opener.

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"It's just like a little [wet]," Alcantara said. "But I got a good grip today. I was like a little out of control today, but next time I've got to keep doing the best, you know?"

Making his fifth start of the season, Alcantara had to deal with the rainy conditions along with facing the same lineup in consecutive starts. Last Tuesday at Marlins Park, the 23-year-old right-hander gave up three runs in four innings in a loss.

"Just didn't seem to have command," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Trouble with command. Rough day."

Video: MIA@WSH: Alcantara strands a pair in the 2nd inning

In both meetings, the Nationals grinded out at-bats against Alcantara. Miami's top pitching prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, walked five and struck out three on Monday after issuing six walks last week in Miami.

Alcantara threw 84 pitches (51 strikes) -- 22 two-seamers and 22 sinkers (or four-seamers), according to Statcast™. He recorded just six swinging strikes

"When he's not aggressive, then that's what you're going to get," Mattingly said. "He wants to throw the two-seamer instead of using the four-seamer. You were getting the ball running off the plate. And he's walking all the lefties. Obviously, we're going to work on that."

Rendon produced a two-run double off Alcantara in the first inning. In the fourth, Bryce Harper lifted a sacrifice fly for his 100th RBI, marking the first time in the All-Star outfielder's career he has reached the century mark. After Harper, Rendon belted a two-run shot and Soto followed with his 21st homer of the season. Per Statcast™, the Rendon homer was 102.6 mph off the bat, and Soto's shot at 107.7 mph.

Video: MIA@WSH: Rendon, Soto launch back-to-back HRs in 4th

"I had a little trouble with lefties," Alcantara said. "But we're going to keep working hard, keep working my 'pen, you know, [work] in to the lefties and to the righties outside a bit."

The rainy conditions caused both starters to struggle early.

Stephen Strasburg threw 38 pitches in the first inning, with Miami taking an early lead on JT Riddle's single and Miguel Rojas' RBI double.

"Even after they score [four], we still had guys out there and had a chance to get back in it there, and we're not able to do anything," Mattingly said.

Video: MIA@WSH: Rojas plates Riddle with a double in the 1st

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trailing 6-1 in the fifth inning, the Marlins chipped away on Brian Anderson's RBI single. But Miami squandered a chance to get back into it. With two runners on, Lewis Brinson struck out. Austin Dean walked to load the bases, but Justin Miller fanned Magneuris Sierra and retired pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega on a groundout to second.

"It was one of those games where we had plenty of opportunities and we're not able to capitalize," Mattingly said. "We didn't really get anything done with guys in scoring position."

Video: MIA@WSH: Miller strands the bases loaded in the 5th

SOUND SMART
The Marlins left 10 on base and went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth, catcher Matt Wieters retrieved a ball in the dirt and tried to pick off JT Riddle, who used a swim move, to get back safely to first. More >

Video: MIA@WSH: Riddle uses a nifty swim move to evade tag

HE SAID IT
"It didn't seem that bad. I know they were putting stuff out there. Javy [Guerra] threw three innings and didn't seem to have trouble. The other guys didn't seem to have trouble. Our guy [Alcantara] just struggled with command. All around, it wasn't real good." -- Mattingly, on the wet conditions

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jeff Brigham is getting an opportunity in September to see if he fits into the Marlins' future as a starter or reliever. On Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET, the rookie draws a tough assignment, taking on a star-filled Nationals lineup at Nationals Park. Making the task even more daunting is he is matched against National League Cy Young Award candidate Max Scherzer.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. Ian Quillen contributed to this story.

Miami Marlins, Sandy Alcantara

Marlins instructional league roster, schedule

MLB.com

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

Here's a look at the Marlins' roster, with the players' ranks in the team's Top 30 Prospects list in parentheses:

At the end of each season, Major League clubs hold instructional league play, commonly known as instructs, an extended mini-camp that allows Minor Leaguers -- particularly those just starting their pro careers at the lower levels of their team's system -- to get some work in before calling it a year. Players work on specific parts of their game and get offseason workout plans while often playing a handful of games against nearby teams to provide low-key competition to put what they are working on into practice.

Here's a look at the Marlins' roster, with the players' ranks in the team's Top 30 Prospects list in parentheses:

Instructional league rosters

PITCHERS: Taylor Braley, RHP; Edward Cabrera, RHP (No. 6); CJ Carter, RHP; Peyton Culbertson, RHP; Braxton Garrett, LHP (No. 9); Albert Guerrero, RHP; Jorge Guzman, RHP (No. 5); Jordan Holloway, RHP; Tyler Kolek, RHP; Ryan Lillie, RHP; Edgar Martinez, RHP; Andrew Miller, LHP; Brady Puckett, RHP; Josh Roberson, RHP; Manny Rodriguez, LHP; Trevor Rogers, LHP (No. 10); Cason Sherrod, RHP; George Soriano, RHP; Chris Vallimont, RHP; Alex Vesia, LHP; Zach Wolf, RHP

CATCHERS: Luis Arcaya; Will Banfield (No. 7); Cameron Barstad; Keegan Fish; Nick Fortes

INFIELDERS: Jose Devers (No. 12): Walner Espinal; Osiris Johnson (No. 13); James Nelson (No. 14); Sean Reynolds; Marcos Rivera; Chris Torres (No. 17)

OUTFIELDERS: Corey Bird; Davis Bradshaw; Jorge Caballero; Jerar Encarnacion; Brayan Hernandez (No. 25)Thomas Jones (No. 18); Tristan Pompey (No. 15); Connor Scott (No. 4); Isael Soto; Milton Smith

SCHEDULE
Sun.., Sept. 23 - at Washington
Mon., Sept. 24 - at Houston
Tues., Sept. 25 - Camp day
Weds., Sept. 26 - vs. Washington
Thurs., Sept. 27 - vs. Houston
Fri., Sept. 28 - Camp day
Sat., Sept. 29 - at Washington
Sun., Sept. 30 - Off day
Mon., Oct. 1 - Camp day
Tues. Oct. 2 - vs. Washington

Miami Marlins

Prospects visit Marlins Park to get a feel of bigs

MLB.com

MIAMI -- As part of their final homestand weekend, the Marlins are recognizing and introducing several of their Minor Leaguers to the big league experience.

On Friday night, Miami's Minor League MVPs and their instructional league team visited Marlins Park, with some prospects participating in batting practice with the Marlins before they faced the Reds.

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MIAMI -- As part of their final homestand weekend, the Marlins are recognizing and introducing several of their Minor Leaguers to the big league experience.

On Friday night, Miami's Minor League MVPs and their instructional league team visited Marlins Park, with some prospects participating in batting practice with the Marlins before they faced the Reds.

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Prospects mingled with the players in the clubhouse, and they interacted with manager Don Mattingly and the coaches.

"Donnie and staff were gracious enough to let them out on the field, and take batting practice with the big leaguers," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "We have some young guys, Rookie League players who have never been out on this field before. It's a tremendous experience, it means a lot."

MLB.com looks at four prospects who have shown potential at various levels:

Right-handed pitcher Nick Neidert : The 21-year-old is Miami's Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Acquired from the Mariners in the Dee Gordon trade, Neidert went 12-7 with a 3.24 ERA at Double-A with 154 strikeouts in 152 2/3 innings.

Neidert will compete for a big league rotation spot in Spring Training, but likely will open at Triple-A New Orleans next year.

Neidert's goals?

"Just be a better pitcher than I was this year," he said. "I know I have stuff I need to work on. Stuff I need to do to keep taking steps in the right direction."

Second baseman Isan Diaz: Acquired from the Brewers in the Christian Yelich deal, the 22-year-old was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville to Triple-A New Orleans. His slash line was .232/.340/.399 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs. According to the Marlins' advanced analytics, Diaz put 9 percent of the balls in play at 105 mph or higher. The league average at Double-A is 7 percent.

"Absolutely. I was told a little more about that," Diaz said of his hard contact rates. "Stay the same. Don't worry about the results, and just go out there and stick to an approach, and let everything else take on its own. Everything worked out."

This offseason, Diaz, Miami's No. 8-ranked prospect, will represent Team Puerto Rico in Colombia during the U-23 Baseball World Cup 2018.

Shortstop Jose Devers: Regarded as the Marlins' shortstop of the future, the 18-year-old advanced this season from low Class A Greensboro to Class A Advanced Jupiter. The left-handed hitter finished .272/.313/.330 with 12 doubles and four triples. Devers was part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Yankees, and he is Miami's No. 12 prospect. He was one of the younger players in the Florida State League.

"I was kind of surprised because it was a league you don't see many 18-year-olds in," Devers said through an interpreter. "But I knew what I've been working on, and I knew what I was capable of."

Devers finished the Minor League season on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis. He is participating in the instructional league, hitting and fielding, but not making long throws.

"My main offseason plan is taking care of my body and my arm," Devers said. "Obviously, I've got to do some things to improve offensively and defensively. But my main priority is taking care of my body and my arm."

Left-handed pitcher Luis Palacios: The left-hander from Venezuela posted impressive numbers in the Dominican Summer League. The 18-year-old was 8-0 with a 0.85 ERA, striking out 62 in 63 2/3 innings. His most telling statistic is just four walks.

"One of the things I do before the game is focus a lot on the strike zone," Palacios said through an interpreter. "I want to get ahead in the counts, and after that, I can go for the strikeout."

Palacios' fastball maxed at 91 mph, but he pitches in the 88-89 mph range. He credits his success to an improved curveball and changeup.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Jose Devers, Isan Diaz, Nick Neidert

Marlins honor Minor League award winners

MLB.com

MIAMI -- A message the Marlins gave to their Minor Leaguers early in Spring Training was, if players performed, they would be rewarded. A prime example is outfielder Austin Dean, who put up big numbers at Double-A and Triple-A, and now is getting substantial time in left field with Miami.

Dean was recognized by the organization on Friday night and received his award as the Marlins' Minor League Player of the Year. Along with Dean, right-hander Nick Neidert was named the Pitcher of the Year Award winner, while Walner Espinal was awarded the Student of the Year and Bruce Walton awarded the Staff Member of the Year.

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MIAMI -- A message the Marlins gave to their Minor Leaguers early in Spring Training was, if players performed, they would be rewarded. A prime example is outfielder Austin Dean, who put up big numbers at Double-A and Triple-A, and now is getting substantial time in left field with Miami.

Dean was recognized by the organization on Friday night and received his award as the Marlins' Minor League Player of the Year. Along with Dean, right-hander Nick Neidert was named the Pitcher of the Year Award winner, while Walner Espinal was awarded the Student of the Year and Bruce Walton awarded the Staff Member of the Year.

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"We're very proud of Austin Dean, and the progress that he made," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "He started out hot, and is finishing hot. He has done a tremendous job offensively. He's improved on his defense. We want well-rounded players and he's improved in every area of his game. We're very proud of his game. But it's not just him."

Dean, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 27 prospect, combined to hit .345 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A New Orleans.

Neidert, the organization's No. 3 prospect, was 12-7 with a 3.24 ERA at Double-A Jacksonville. Neidert was acquired from the Mariners in the Dee Gordon trade, and he played at Double-A at age 21.

Denbo noted the organization didn't hesitate in promoting young players to higher levels.

"That's a goal of ours," Denbo said. "It's to get our players at a younger age competing against tougher competition. Even sometimes when they struggle, we think it's the right thing to do, to put them in a position to learn, to make adjustments. We feel a lot of our guys did that."

A player who didn't move all season was outfielder Monte Harrison, Miami's top prospect, who spent the season at Jacksonville.

Harrison had a slash line of .240/.316/.399 with 19 home runs and 48 RBIs. The concern was strikeouts, as he fanned 215 times, and he had a strikeout percentage of 36.9 percent on the season.

"Monte Harrison, a tremendous athlete in Double-A this year," Denbo said. "We didn't move him because he was striking out way too often. But what he did over the course of the season was go from a very high strikeout total, an almost unacceptable strikeout total, to down near 25-26 percent over the last six weeks of the season."

If Harrison can make consistent contact, he has the ability to be impactful. According to Marlins advanced data, 20 percent of the balls he put in play were at 105 mph or higher. That was the seventh-highest rate of more than 400 hitters in Double-A.

Also on Friday, the Marlins invited their entire instructional league team to Marlins Park. Among the 40 players on the team, first-round pick Connor Scott, second-rounder Osiris Johnson and Competitive Balance Round B pick Will Banfield were on hand.

The Marlins are changing one of their Minor League affiliations in 2019. It was announced Friday that the new Class A affiliate will be the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings in the Midwest League. Miami is leaving Class A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League.

"We're moving into the Midwest League," Denbo said. "I had an opportunity to play and coach in the Midwest League in my career. It's a good league. It's a good developmental league. We feel like it's on par with the other lower-level A leagues. We feel like it's an opportunity to put some of our younger players there."

Scott, Banfield and Johnson are projected to open next year at Clinton.

The Marlins also have hired Marti Wolever, longtime scouting director with the Phillies, who will be working on the amateur side.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Marlins announce Minor League award winners

MLB.com