Marlins instructional league prospect report

November 4th, 2020

After the completion of the regular season and alternate training sites, most player development staffs have turned their attention to instructional league play. In the past, instructional leagues have been populated by new draftees, recent international signings and players at the bottom rungs of their organizational ladder. This year, in an attempt to make up for lost time due to the pandemic, it’s been expanded to include many more players. MLB Pipeline will be providing position-by-position reports from instructional league camps in Florida and Arizona.

Pitchers (18)

Sando Bargallo, LHP; Mario Doble, RHP; Jake Eder, LHP (No. 23); Justin Evans, RHP; Evan Fitterer, RHP (No. 24); Dax Fulton, LHP (No. 12); Yeuris Jimenez, RHP; M.D. Johnson, RHP; Zach King, LHP; Zach McCambley, RHP (No. 22); Max Meyer, RHP (No. 3); Andrew Nardi, LHP; Kyle Nicolas, RHP (No. 21); Eury Perez, RHP; Will Stewart, LHP; Edison Suriel, LHP; Antonio Velez, LHP; Luis Vizcaino, RHP.

The Marlins brought their 2020 first-rounder (right-hander Max Meyer) to the alternate training site during the summer, and their second-rounder (left-hander Dax Fulton) arrived for the final week. Instructional league gave them their first in-person look at their next three choices from their all-pitching Draft: supplemental second-round righty Kyle Nicolas, third-round righty Zach McCambley and fourth-round lefty Jake Eder.

Nicolas was one of the hardest-throwing starters (up to 100 mph) in the college crop, while some scouts thought McCambley had the best curveball in that class. Eder lacks consistency but can run his fastball up to 97 mph and back it up with solid secondary offerings.

"We have a pretty strict 30-day rule that we're hands off until players show what they can do," Miami special assistant for player development and scouting Geoff DeGroot said. "A lot of it was getting them acclimated and acquainted with the organization. They all showed exciting and encouraging stuff.

"Nicolas is just a physical specimen, everything you hope for with a strong body. He has a heavy fastball, two effective breaking balls, and he was in the zone the entire time. Jake Eder was really, really exciting from the left side: great delivery, great body, strong and physical. McCambley was on the attack from pitch one with his fastball/breaking ball combination."

The youngest pitcher in the Marlins' instructional program, which ended Oct. 30, was also one of the most intriguing. 17-year-old Eury Perez was 6-foot-5 and 155 pounds when he signed for $200,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2019, and he has added four inches and 35 pounds since then. He's already pushing his fastball to 95 mph with plenty of projection remaining and he throws strikes with an effortless delivery.

Catchers (4)

Will Banfield (No. 29), Santiago Chavez, Nick Fortes, Jan Mercado.

Will Banfield's Gold Glove potential behind the plate helped him land a $1.8 million bonus as a supplemental second-round choice in 2018, but he batted just .199/.252/.310 in low Class A during his first full pro season. DeGroot cited him as the most improved player from an offensive standpoint in Miami's alternate training site this summer, and he continued to perform well in instructional league.

Banfield picked a runner off third base in the first inning of his first game, then homered in his next at-bat, setting the stage for a strong fall.

"Banfield's development was encouraging," DeGroot said. "He got stronger while retaining his mobility behind the plate. How far his bat has come and how well he's playing under control is exciting."

Infielders (10)

Evan Edwards, 1B; Osiris Johnson, SS; Ian Lewis, SS; Nasim Nunez, SS (No. 20); Nic Ready, 3B; Sean Reynolds, 1B; Dalvy Rosario, SS; Jose Salas, SS (No. 19); Junior Sanchez, SS; Angeudis Santos, SS.

Shortstop Nasim Nunez is another high school second-rounder who received an above-slot bonus ($2.2 million) and is known more for his glove than his bat. Perhaps the best defensive shortstop available in the 2019 Draft, he also possesses well-above-average speed but comes with some questions about his offensive impact because he's a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder who hit .200/.327/.238 in his pro debut.

Like Banfield, Nunez encouraged the Marlins with the progress he made at the plate during instructional league.

"The pure athleticism he shows on the field stands out," DeGroot said. "He does something to stand out every game. He's an easy 70 runner [on the 20-80 scouting scale] with an easy 70 arm and he handles the barrel really well.

"His bat-to-ball skills are very good. He's getting stronger and starting to hit the ball hard. It's professional at-bats at a young age."

Outfielders (10)

JJ Bleday (No. 2), Peyton Burdick (No. 16), Diowill Burgos, Griffin Conine (No. 18), Victor Mesa Jr. (No. 27), Victor Victor Mesa (No. 30), Kameron Misner (No. 14), Jandel Paulino, Richard Roman, Yoelvis Sanchez, Connor Scott (No. 15).

Outfielders comprised the strongest position group at Miami's instructs, with seven prospects featured on MLB Pipeline's Marlins Top 30. The 2019 Draft contingent fared well, with No. 4 overall pick JJ Bleday continuing to show all-around offensive ability; supplemental first-rounder Kameron Misner standing out with his size, athleticism and refined approach; and third-round sleeper Peyton Burdick rocketing balls to all fields.

Griffin Conine is the latest addition to the collection of talented oufielders, arriving from the Blue Jays in September as the player to be named in a trade for Jonathan Villar. The son of Jeff Conine, who won two World Series in Miami and became known as Mr. Marlin, Griffin led the low Class A Midwest League with 22 homers in just 80 games in 2019 and also showcases a plus arm in right field.

"He's an absolute hit machine," DeGroot said. "From the time he walked in our door, it has been hard-hit ball after hard-hit ball after hard-hit ball. He's incredibly strong and he loves hitting. He's a cage rat.

"He put on a show here. He had a lot of quality at-bats and didn't punch out a lot."