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Denbo high on Marlins' new pitching prospects

VP of player development and scouting praises Alcantara, Guzman, others acquired this offseason
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The major trades the Marlins made recently have brought some much-needed starting pitchers into the system.

Not all may be fixtures in the rotation in 2018, but several provide promising options for the foreseeable future, headlined by hard throwers Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman.

MIAMI -- The major trades the Marlins made recently have brought some much-needed starting pitchers into the system.

Not all may be fixtures in the rotation in 2018, but several provide promising options for the foreseeable future, headlined by hard throwers Sandy Alcantara and Jorge Guzman.

According to MLBPipeline.com, Alcantara and Guzman are the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in Miami's system. But they aren't the only candidates acquired from recent trades who might make an impact next year.

• Marlins' Top 30 prospects

"You can probably say that every one of the pitchers we acquired, they need to work on their fastball command to ensure they are able to locate fastballs where Major League hitters aren't able to impact them," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said Thursday in a conference call.

"You can say the same thing about Sandy. That's our No. 1 objective with all of our pitchers: To ensure they have good command of their fastball."

Alcantara was a centerpiece in the trade with the Cardinals for Marcell Ozuna. Miami landed four players in the deal, with three being pitchers. Alcantara and right-hander Zac Gallen are the two pitchers closest to being big league-ready. Gallen is ranked as Miami's No. 15 prospect.

• Recent trades reshape Marlins' system

Alcantara, 22, pitched 8 1/3 innings of relief for the Cardinals in '17, striking out 10 while walking six. The Marlins profile him as a top-of-the-rotation candidate. Statcast™ had his four-seam fastball average at 98.5 mph.

Video: Michael Hill discusses trading for Sandy Alcantara

As promising as Alcantara is, he may not be the closest to sticking in the big leagues immediately. Gallen, 22, is making strides to reach the Majors in the near future.

"We think Zac is going to help us in the rotation," Denbo said. "We like his delivery. He's got all the tools of a future starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. His velocity is plus. Four-pitch mix. He's got three above-average pitches. He's shown pitchability, which means he's been able to locate his fastball effectively."

The pitcher with the most dominant stuff is Guzman. Acquired in the Stanton trade, his fastball averages 99 mph, and has topped at 103 mph. But at age 21 with no experience above Class A Short-Season in the New York-Penn League, Guzman needs more development.

"I guess the sky's the limit for Jorge Guzman," Denbo said. "Jorge has a power arm. Our director of player personnel, Dan Greenlee, will tell you that there is no other starter in baseball that has an average fastball as high as Jorge Guzman. Not only this year, but I think as far back as they've been measuring it."

Guzman just lacks the innings, logging 66 2/3 in 2017. With overpowering stuff, he struck out 88 and walked just 18.

Video: Callis on Marlins acquiring Guzman's electric arm

"It's obvious he has a great arm," Denbo said. "He has the ability to strike out hitters, which we value. He has the ability to throw strikes, and he's a good athlete. The athleticism should allow him make adjustments as needed as he advances through our system. We're extremely excited about Jorge Guzman, adding an arm like that into the organization."

A lefty with a chance to be in the rotation out of Spring Training is Caleb Smith, acquired from the Yankees in a Minor League trade.

"He's a starter who had great success in Triple-A with the Yankees last year," Denbo said. "We think he's going to be able to compete for the starting rotation here."

Smith, 29th on Miami's prospect list, appeared in nine games with two starts for the Yankees, throwing 18 1/3 innings. He struck out 18 and walked 10. The lefty was 9-1 with a 2.39 ERA at Triple-A.

Nick Neidert, Miami's No. 7 prospect, was part of the Dee Gordon deal with Seattle. The right-hander turned 21 on Nov. 20, and he made the jump to Double-A last season.

"We believe he will have a chance in the future to join our starting rotation," Denbo said. "He's only 21 years old."

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

Miami Marlins, Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, Jorge Guzman, Nick Neidert, Caleb Smith