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Marlins' top prospects knocking on the door

@JoeFrisaro
November 21, 2019

MIAMI – Adding Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Nick Neidert to the Marlins’ 40-man roster on Wednesday was a formality. Now, the reality is that all three pitching prospects are that much closer to making their Major League debuts in 2020. Sanchez and Cabrera -- Miami’s No. 1 and No.

MIAMI – Adding Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Nick Neidert to the Marlins’ 40-man roster on Wednesday was a formality. Now, the reality is that all three pitching prospects are that much closer to making their Major League debuts in 2020.

Sanchez and Cabrera -- Miami’s No. 1 and No. 6 prospects, respectively, according to MLB Pipeline -- are two hard-throwing right-handers who have top of the rotation potential.

Neidert -- the Marlins' No. 11 prospect -- is a right-hander that profiles more to the back of the rotation.

Most likely the three will open the season on the same Triple-A Wichita staff. From there, it’s only a matter of time before they get the call from Miami.

“They’re on the roster now,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “So that makes the opportunity for them to pitch in the big leagues that much easier. But, as we say with all our prospects, they drive the train.”

If they perform, it will be difficult to keep them down in the Minor Leagues. But those situations have ways of working themselves out.

In Sanchez’s case, it’s a matter of making sure he is healthy and built up to endure the daily grind of the Major Leagues. Cabrera made a huge leap forward in '19, starting off at Class A Advanced Jupiter before moving up to Double-A Jacksonville.

Sanchez and Cabrera provided an impressive one-two punch for the Jumbo Shrimp in Jacksonville, with each sporting 100-mph fastballs.

Neidert, 23, is the most experienced of the group. He pitched at Triple-A last year, but missed substantial time due to a right meniscus tear that required surgery. He ended up throwing 54 total innings, going 3-5 with a 4.67 ERA.

The Marlins acquired Neidert from the Mariners after the 2017 season as part of the Dee Gordon trade.

With two years of experience under his belt in Miami’s system, Neidert is seeing a culture change with all the promising young talent.

“It’s like things are falling in line,” Neidert said. “Everybody is getting to know everybody. Everybody is getting familiar with faces still. Everyone is adapting into the new culture, because it’s still just the second year into the new regime coming in. But it’s very exciting to see guys buying in and the effort that’s put in every single day. It’s going to be something special.”

In 41 innings at nine starts at Triple-A, Neidert was 3-4 with a 5.05 ERA..

Neidert was able to make up some innings in the Arizona Fall League, pitching for the Salt River Rafters. In five starts, he was 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.

“We’re going to give them every opportunity to compete and go out and show what they’re capable of doing,” Hill said.

Sanchez, the No. 22 overall prospect on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, had his innings carefully structured in 2019. Due to his previous right elbow issues when he was in the Phillies' organization, he was brought along slowly in his first season with the Marlins.

After a couple of starts at Jupiter -- just to get him back into game situations -- Sanchez was sent to Double-A, where he was 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 19 starts. In 103 innings, he averaged 8.48 K/9, and just 1.66 BB/9. He also represented the Marlins in the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland.

Cabrera, No. 99 on Pipeline’s Top 100 list, was simply dominant at Jupiter and Jacksonville. After going 5-3 with a 2.02 ERA with the Hammerheads, he went 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA at Jacksonville.

Cabrera logged 38 2/3 innings at Double-A, and averaged 10.1 K/9 and 3.03 BB/9.

“With Edward and Sixto, you’re talking about elite talent,” Hill said. “Guys with multiple, well-above-average pitches that they bring to the party. It’s about getting them that experience, and making sure that they’re ready as we can possibly make them, before they reach the big leagues.”

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