Not since 2013, when Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Jose Fernandez each made their Major League debuts, has the Marlins organization been this stacked with potentially high-end prospects.
MLB Pipeline staff recognized Diaz as the organization’s top hitting prospect, while Cabrera received the top pitching honors. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list. Cabrera is ranked sixth on the team and No. 99 overall, while Diaz was previously ranked No. 5 on the team and No. 82 overall before recently passing the eligibility threshold of 130 big league at-bats.
The Marlins’ vastly improved Minor League system is a big reason management has so much optimism about the organization’s future, even in a season in which MLB wins have been hard to come by.
Diaz, 23, received his first big league callup on Aug. 5. The left-handed-hitting second baseman was promoted after posting big numbers at Triple-A New Orleans, where he slashed .305/.395/.578 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs.
Cabrera, 21, is a hard-throwing right-hander who dominated at Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. The Dominican Republic native combined to go 9-4 with a 2.23 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings.
Diaz is considered Miami’s second baseman of the future, while Cabrera is expected to challenge for a rotation spot next year in Spring Training. Based on pure stuff, his ceiling arguably is being an ace.
Even if Cabrera starts off at Triple-A, the right-hander is expected to reach the big leagues at some point in 2020.
“Continue to develop,” Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said. “Continue to improve. We need guys to continue to get better. For us, having a young team, a young organization, even when guys get to the Major League level, they need to continue to develop. That’s how we become a great team, because year in and year out, you have to improve.”
Reaching the Majors is the first step. But as Diaz has learned, simply getting to the sport's highest level is not a guarantee for success.
In his MLB debut against the Mets on Aug. 5, Diaz's first big league hit was a home run off reigning Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom. But since then, he has had his struggles. In recent games, however, he’s showing signs of an impactful everyday player.
“I'm trying to end the year on a positive note,” Diaz said. “I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm trying to stay positive and help us win. I'm trying to put good at-bats together, and whatever happens, happens.”
Diaz’s development certainly is being closely followed, and he understands why. The rookie was part of the blockbuster trade of Yelich with the Brewers. In January 2018, the Marlins sent Yelich to Milwaukee for Diaz, Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto.
Diaz understands he will always be linked to Yelich.
“Obviously, it’s always there,” Diaz said. “It never disappears. I think it’s just part of not really paying attention to it, and being yourself, and doing what you’ve got to do.”
Cabrera was an international free-agent signee in 2015, and he raised his profile with his eye-opening 2019 season.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, Cabrera’s fastball has been in the 96-99 mph range, and he’s shown an improved slider and changeup.
Cabrera made history with the Jupiter Hammerheads on May 1, when he struck out 13 in 6 2/3 innings, tying a franchise single-game strikeout record.
The Marlins envision the day when they will have Sixto Sanchez, their No. 1 prospect, and Cabrera at the top of their rotation. That could happen at some point in 2020.
“Edward’s size, his leverage,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “He has three plus pitches. When you think about his talent and his tools, he’s a very attractive pitching prospect.”