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With 4 new prospects, Marlins' rebuild on track

Club has traded Yelich, Stanton, Ozuna, Gordon this offseason
MLB.com @RichardJustice

In Lewis Brinson, the Marlins just traded for a 23-year-old outfielder with the skill set to be a 30-homer, 30-steal player in the Major Leagues. He's precisely the type of high-ceiling, high-impact prospect that new Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter had in mind when this process -- you've heard that word before, haven't you? -- began six months ago.

Monte Harrison is 22 years old and cut from similar cloth. He was a three-sport star in high school and just had his best professional season, hitting 21 home runs and stealing 27 bases across two lower levels of the Brewers' farm system.

In Lewis Brinson, the Marlins just traded for a 23-year-old outfielder with the skill set to be a 30-homer, 30-steal player in the Major Leagues. He's precisely the type of high-ceiling, high-impact prospect that new Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter had in mind when this process -- you've heard that word before, haven't you? -- began six months ago.

Monte Harrison is 22 years old and cut from similar cloth. He was a three-sport star in high school and just had his best professional season, hitting 21 home runs and stealing 27 bases across two lower levels of the Brewers' farm system.

Harrison showed off a really good throwing arm as well, and if things work out a certain way, he and Brinson will play alongside each other in the Marlins' outfield for a long time.

This is when the Marlins' future begins to take shape. Brinson and Harrison were two of the four prospects the club acquired on Thursday when they traded outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers. Miami also received middle-infield prospect Isan Diaz and right-handed pitching prospect Jordan Yamamoto.

Yelich? Ouch. This one stings for baseball fans in South Florida. He's a 26-year-old Gold Glove outfielder signed to a team-friendly contract for the next four or five years.

Video: Marlins trade Yelich to Brewers for four prospects

Marlins fans have already seen Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon traded away since the end of last season. And now Yelich. Trust the process. Trust the process. Repeat after me, trust the process. Jeter is putting two decades of credibility on the line to do this thing right, to do it in such a way that the Marlins won't have to do it again in the foreseeable future.

As Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said, "Derek Jeter did not get into this thing to fail." And he will not. That's a decent bet. Don't buy it? Go ask the hundreds of people who've played with, managed or gotten to know Jeter through the years. He's simply too smart and too competitive.

Jeter watched Yankees general manager Brian Cashman put together a model organization during his 20 seasons in pinstripes, and he understands the most important thing he can do is hire competent people and give them the freedom and resources to do their jobs. That's where this thing begins.

That's why the addition of Gary Denbo is so critical. He's a former Yankees evaluator who joined Jeter with the title of vice president of scouting and player development. Denbo's job is to assess available talent and to rebuild a farm system that simply wasn't good enough for a competitive Major League team.

"We needed to make some changes to build our organization, to create more depth to allow us to win on a consistent basis," Hill said. "To have an organization that has the layers of depth to have sustainable winning, and consistent winning, on an annual basis."

Video: Marlins acquire four prospects in trade for Yelich

The Marlins have acquired 25 prospects since the middle of last season -- some of those before Jeter and Denbo arrived -- and have turned a bottom-five Minor League system into a middle-of-the-pack one.

Now, the key is to stay the course, to accept some short-term pain as the young players work their way through the system and as more arrive via the Draft and other trades.

Jeter understands that Marlins fans have been burned too often in the past to trust anyone, even him. That's OK. He arrived in South Florida knowing credibility had to be accumulated one day at a time.

And these are the toughest days. To say goodbye to players like Yelich hurts on every level. And if Marlins fans are wondering why this teardown is different from all those others, that's fair.

Video: MLB Tonight on Yelich to the Brewers for four players

As we said, credibility is built day by day. Jeter has earned enough of it in this game over the past two decades to have a chance to implement his vision of what a successful organization should be.

But Jeter has to do it himself. In this role, he'll be conceded nothing from a fanbase that is rightfully cynical. This four-for-one trade on Thursday appears to be the best of the bunch. Brinson, Diaz and Harrison were ranked the Nos. 1, 6 and 14 prospects, respectively, by MLB Pipeline in a great Milwaukee farm system.

Also, Brinson is the No. 13 overall prospect in MLB, while Diaz is No. 86.

There has been criticism that the Marlins didn't get enough talent back in the other trades. That's ridiculous, as evaluating young talent is the toughest thing to do in the game.

Besides that, Denbo -- like his mentor, the late Gene Michael -- has an excellent track record in player development. The Marlins believe that a year or two from now, they'll look back and see these new players as part of the foundation of another World Series championship run.

The Marlins will have young players throughout their roster this season, but the real excitement will begin when the waves of talent begin pushing for Major League jobs in the years ahead.

This spring is a start, as Marlins fans will be seeing this next generation in uniform for the first time. This should amount to a turning of the page.

"I'm looking forward to watching us play," Hill said. "There's a lot of reason for our fans to be excited. When you think about the existing pieces that are still on our roster, the young players that we've been able to add, there's athleticism, there's speed, there's power arms. I'm excited to see those guys report to Jupiter and to see them get ready for the upcoming season."

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Miami Marlins