Under the new ownership of a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, the past two years have been a rebuilding process for the Marlins. The big league club posted 203 losses across the 2018 and '19 seasons, their second-most ever in consecutive years. But as the Major League turnaround continues in Miami, the farm system offers optimism.
Miami's future is definitely brighter than its immediate past, however. When former owner Jeffrey Loria handed over the keys to the club, the Marlins had suffered through eight consecutive losing seasons and had arguably the worst farm system in the game. Now they have one of the best, thanks to an influx of talent from several avenues.
When Jeter took over control of baseball operations, he made no secret that Miami needed to tear down to rebuild. Over the next 17 months, the club swapped Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto for 15 prospects plus big leaguers Jorge Alfaro and Starlin Castro. While it could be argued that the returns on some of those deals should have been stronger, they unquestionably upgraded the system.
The Marlins' four best prospects -- right-hander Sixto Sanchez, outfielder J.J. Bleday, shortstop Jazz Chisholm and outfielder Jesús Sánchez -- all joined the organization in 2019, Bleday as the fourth overall pick in the Draft and others via trades. Twenty-four of MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Marlins prospects have come aboard since the ownership change.
Miami graduated trade acquisitions Sandy Alcantara, Isan Díaz and Jordan Yamamoto to the Majors in 2019, and several more -- the Sanchezes, first baseman Lewin Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison, right-hander Nick Neidert -- could make their presence felt this year. The Marlins may have to endure another last-place finish in the NL East, but better days are ahead.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2019 preseason list to the 2020 preseason list:
Jump: Jerar Encarnacion, OF (2019: NR | 2020: 15) -- Improved health and plate discipline allowed him to tap into his plus raw power, and his arm is also an asset in right field.
Fall: Victor Victor Mesa, OF (2019: 2 | 2020: 26) -- After signing for $5.25 million, his speed and defense were as good as advertised but he showed little ability to impact the ball at the plate.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 -- Jose Devers (Bleday, Victor Mesa Jr., Sánchez)
Power: 60 -- Bleday
Run: 65 -- Nasim Nunez (Connor Scott)
Arm: 70 -- Will Banfield (Harrison)
Defense: 60 -- Mesa (Devers, Harrison, Nunez)
Fastball: 70 -- Cabrera (Jorge Guzman, Jordan Holloway, Sanchez)
Curveball: 60 -- Braxton Garrett (Holloway)
Slider: 60 -- Cabrera
Changeup: 60 -- Sanchez (Neidert)
Control: 60 -- Sanchez
How they were built
Draft: 12 | International: 7 | Trade: 10 | Rule 5: 1
Breakdown by ETA
2020: 9 | 2021: 6 | 2022: 7 | 2023: 7 | 2024: 1
Breakdown by position
C: 1 | 1B: 1 | SS: 5 | OF: 10 | RHP: 10 | LHP: 3