I asked the other day: What would your starting rotation be in 2025, given our current players and prospects?
Since you’ve asked twice, I’ll address this, purely for fun. I don’t want any pitchers in the organization feeling that I am slighting them in any way. And, of course, who knows what 2021 will look like after all that has occurred in '20?
As we look into the future, my Marlins No. 1 starter in 2025 might surprise you. Meet the ace in the future – he’s the same as in the present. It’s Sandy Alcantara, Miami’s Opening Day starter in 2020. Of all players on the roster, Alcantara, in my opinion, should be Miami’s top priority for a contract extension.
Next, I’m going with Sixto Sánchez, the 22-year-old, who is Miami’s top prospect, and No. 24 overall on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. No. 3 is left-hander, Braxton Garrett, who has the best curveball in the system. No. 4 is right-hander Edward Cabrera, the third right-hander, who throws 100 mph. And No. 5 is left-hander Dax Fulton, the 18-year-old who was Miami’s second-round pick in June.
What about Max Meyer, you ask? I’m listing Meyer, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's Draft, as my closer. Remember, we’re talking 2025.
Who do you see being traded before the Deadline? Or do you think the Marlins will be in the buying market?
The Trade Deadline is Aug. 31, and the Marlins currently are 7-3, and hungry to reach the playoffs. Keep in mind, there is nothing typical about this season, so don’t assume that the Trade Deadline will be like it has been in the past. Eight of 15 National League teams are making the playoffs, so that means many teams that are underperforming now still might get in, if they get to about .500, so they won’t be selling.
I actually don’t see the Marlins being very active at the Trade Deadline, at least in terms of targeting any potential high-profile “rentals.” Keep in mind, they have 18 players who tested positive for COVID-19. If the club stays in the race, it expects a good number of those players back. In a sense, their depth may change their decisions on trading. I think pitching will be key -- eight relievers tested positive, as well as three starters.
I could see Jonathan Villar, a free agent after the season, being a potential trade piece, especially if shortstop Miguel Rojas is back from the IL.
It’s great to see the depth in the organization and the rebuild taking shape. What’s the plan to continue to develop the players who did not make the 60-man player pool, such as Kameron Misner, Peyton Burdick, Connor Scott, etc. Are they able to be coached by someone in the organization, or is it offseason for them?
Chief executive officer Derek Jeter recently discussed the issue of prospects who are not part of the player pool. One idea being discussed by the Marlins, as well as many clubs, is to have some form of an instructional league. These usually take place every season, in September, and about 30 prospects are invited. Also mentioned was the possibility of an early Spring Training, taking place in January. Some players may also participate in various Winter Leagues.
Obviously, health protocols must be in place, especially to launch an instructional league, which would occur in September, and last perhaps into early October.
Clearly, not playing a Minor League season hurts the Marlins, in particular, because they have a deep farm system. You note three players – Misner, Scott and Burdick – ranked as the organization’s Nos. 14, 15, 16 prospects, respectively, by MLB Pipeline. They, and others, are basically waiting in the wings to find out when and where they will get back to playing.
When will Sixto Sánchez and Jazz Chisholm get called up?
Manager Don Mattingly addressed both players in recent days. Both are training at the alternate site in Jupiter, Fla., and they are on the 40-man roster. So, it is a matter of when they are ready. Sánchez is currently being built up. He’s at about three innings, and he would need to be at least built up to go five innings or be around 80 pitches. Once he is, then it will be a matter of if he is needed. I sense that could be either late August or in September.
Chisholm, Miami’s No. 4 prospect, may have a tougher time reaching the big leagues this season, especially when Rojas returns.
Why isn’t Lewis Brinson playing almost every night? We might as well see what he’s got, because I would imagine he doesn’t have too many opportunities left.
As you note, this is crunch time for Brinson, who is out of options, and the Marlins must make a call if he is part of their future, starting in 2021. Brinson, of course, opened the season on the injured list, and he was recalled recently due to 18 players testing positive for COVID-19. Thus far, he has started in right field against left-handers. Matt Joyce has been getting the nod against right-handers.
The Marlins like Brinson in right field better than in center, feeling his jumps are better there. Given his limited opportunities, Brinson must take advantage of every chance he gets. It might be as a defensive replacement, pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.
In terms of the bigger picture, this year is about trying to win, not further develop.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.