Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Marlins.
JUPITER, Fla. -- There are so many new names in Marlins camp this year, perhaps they should have planned some ice-breaker games to allow everyone to get to know each other.
• Marlins' Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Isan Diaz
It's not just all new players -- seven of the top 10 are in their first Spring Training with Miami -- but also the staff. Dick Scott, who has previously been the farm director for the Mets and Blue Jays, was given that job here just this past November. Thankfully, the Marlins have names on their jerseys.
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"We wear our game jerseys out for BP every day so us new people can recognize who it is," Scott said. "It's very tough. I've seen guys, I've seen their face and I think, 'I should know who this is,' then he walks by and I look at his name on the back. It's crazy, but it's true. I'm not ashamed of admitting it. I don't have a photographic memory."
While all of the changes involved sending quality big leaguers away, it has led to a greater buzz on the Minor League side. Starting with top prospect Lewis Brinson hoping to land a spot in Miami's outfield on Opening Day and on down, prospects new and old to the system are excited for the one thing any young player hopes to get.
"Whether you're a good player in a down system and you have a chance to get there or you're a good player in an up-and-coming system, all they want is an opportunity," Scott said. "In some places, it's not there because they have established players. But here, Derek Jeter made it clear the first day of Major League camp: We're taking the best players to Miami. It wasn't like we're fighting for five jobs. We're taking the 25 best guys. And I think that's really the message that's been sent throughout the organization. The best players are going to play."
The best players in terms of the farm system are much better than they were a year ago at this time. There are high-ceiling, toolsy outfielders in Brinson and Monte Harrison, courtesy of the Christian Yelich trade, at the top, followed by extreme arm strength in Sandy Alcantara (Marcell Ozuna deal) and Jorge Guzman (Giancarlo Stanton). And that's just the top four.
"We bumped some guys out of the Top 30; they've fallen probably to where they should've been in a decent organization with the influx of these new players," Scott said. "I joined the Marlins in November and went to the Winter Meetings and looked at video of so many organizations' top 10-12 prospects. We sat in there for hours looking at all these prospects and we were excited to see who we could get back. You knew some of these guys were going to get traded, it's the nature of the beast. So we said, 'Let's get through it.' Now it's exciting."
'Old' arms making their way back
Before all of the trades, the Marlins did have a trio of arms at or near the top of their list. Taken in the first round in three Drafts, they all have serious potential, but all have some serious questions marks.
Lefty Brax Garrett, taken No. 7 overall in 2016, is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last June. Miami went high school southpaw again in 2017, taking Trevor Rogers with the 13th overall selection. The New Mexico high school product didn't throw a pitch last summer, so Scott's first look at him this spring was really everyone's first chance to see him pitch in a game.
"In an intrasquad game the other day, he threw and one of the coaches said that those were his first professional pitches he'd thrown," Scott said of Rogers, who didn't throw last summer because of fatigue and then didn't get the chance to pitch at instructs because of Hurricane Irma. "He has a good arm. We'll probably be cautious with him because he hasn't pitched professionally. You can't lose sight of that. He needs to learn a lot of basic, foundation-like things to get to even A ball."
In many ways, Tyler Kolek is a forgotten prospect. The 2014 first-rounder is still on the Top 30, but all the way down at No. 28. The hard-throwing right-hander looked like he was making strides at Spring Training in 2016, then he ended up needing Tommy John surgery that April. Kolek came back last year, briefly, and Scott has really liked what he's seen so far this spring.
"Kolek is throwing very well," Scott said. "Some of the new pitching coaches we have here have helped him clean up his delivery a little bit. He's a big strong guy. The ball has always come out well, but I don't think the ball and the delivery have always been together necessarily. Sometimes that's common with young guys, plus big guys have trouble syncing all of that up.
"He pitched in an intrasquad game and his first inning was great. Second inning, he kind of came out of his delivery, he wasn't as sharp, but he was able to regroup and finish the inning. That's progress."
Shortstop Joe Dunand was the Marlins' second-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2017, one who hit well at the outset of his pro debut but had his summer cut short by a finger injury. At this point, he might be more well known for being Alex Rodriguez's nephew.
That might change soon. Completely healthy, Dunand has looked very strong in Jupiter so far. He's made an impression when getting an opportunity in Grapefruit League action, having gone 2-for-4 with a home run in four games. But it goes well beyond what numbers Dunand puts up when asked to come and fill in.
"He's done a really nice job and has caught everyone's eye," Scott said. "He carries himself really well. They said, 'Send him back. When we call down again, send him back again. He had nice at-bats.' That's great to hear."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.