From Burdick to Fulton, MO2 updates latest on Marlins prospects
The Marlins have some promising prospects. Some are off to fast starts and others to slow starts. MO2 gives the latest on several key players in Miami’s farm system.
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Man On Second Baseball is back from vacation, and is hitting the ground running on what we’re hearing and seeing on the prospect front.
Although we were out of town for a week, MO2 didn’t completely disconnect from the action on the field. We even caught a Jupiter Hammerheads game on Saturday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. M02 strongly supports Minor League ball, and encourages all to check out games, in person, whenever you can.
Much happened while we were on hiatus. The Miami Marlins placed outfielder Corey Dickerson on the injured list with a bruised left foot, and recalled outfielder Jesus Sanchez.
The anticipated arrival of Sanchez, Miami’s hottest hitter in the Minors, was expected at some point. It occurred, unfortunately, due to an injury. Yet, that is another reminder that organization’s need depth, and shouldn’t rush development.
Over a long season, things have a way of working out.
Now Sanchez, who was dominating at Triple-A Jacksonville, is getting regular playing time. The left-handed hitting outfielder was batting .345 with nine homers and 28 RBIs when he was promoted. At Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, he hit his first MLB homer. He will always have the memory of it coming at a historical park.
Sanchez and first base prospect Lewin Diaz now are both on the Major League club. When it comes to position players, they have been the two prospects closest to being big league ready in the system.
Diaz, actually, according to MO2 sources, was considered ready even before Sanchez. But Diaz is blocked at first with Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper handling the position. However, with Cooper (lumbar strain) on the IL, Diaz got called up on June 9.
The two left-handed hitting prospects are two of the more exciting hitting prospects the Marlins currently have.
They project to be regulars, along with rookie infielder Jazz Chisholm (who basically is the organization’s top position prospect).
Now that all three are in the big leagues, how are the next wave of Marlins’ position player prospects looking?
We checked in with our insiders who have been examining Double-A Pensacola.
Outfielders Peyton Burdick, JJ Bleday and Jerar Encarnacion (who also is playing some first base) are receiving mixed reviews.
Burdick has been the most impactful, in terms of pure power. He has nine home runs and an .828 OPS. But the batting average is .208.
Bleday, a left-handed hitter, has struggled with a .209 batting average, which has surprised several insiders. Bleday is regarded as a pure hitter, who has the ability to use all fields. Statistics in the Minor Leagues aren’t always the best indicators of how a player is performing.
Approach, pitch recognition, bat speed, and physical tools of the player, often say more. Some question if Bleday will hit left-handers. The average follower may not pick up on that, if you look exclusively at Bleday’s statistical splits. He’s hitting .186 against right-handers and .261 off lefties. Bleday even hit a double on Sunday off a lefty.
Keep in mind, in evaluation, the projections are on how players will perform in the big leagues.
Encarnacion is hitting .243 with six homers and 19 RBIs. Concerning is his 36.4 percent strikeout rate.
In terms of power, Encarnacion and Burdick have as much as anyone in the Marlins’ system.
Low batting averages have been common throughout the big leagues and on down to the Minor Leagues. At the MILB level, we should remind that there was no Minor League season in 2020, and prospects basically have a year of development impacted in some way.
Yes, many of the top prospects trained at alternate training sites, and played in scrimmages. But that doesn’t replace actual games. So, we expect over time for the good hitters to start having their numbers rise as the season progresses.
What the inconsistent starts for some of these prospects may mean is some of these players need more seasoning before they are ready for the big leagues.
On the pitching side, at Pensacola, the prospect who continues to receive rave reviews is left-hander Jake Eder. Miami’s fourth-round pick from Vanderbilt in 2020, from what MO2 is hearing, is as good as any pitcher in a deep pitching system.
In eight starts, Eder has 62 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings (13.39 k/9), to go with a 1.08 ERA.
Then there is hard-throwing right-hander Edward Cabrera, who is building up after missing substantial time due to injury.
We’re putting Cabrera in his own category, because the hard-throwing right-hander would have been in the Majors last year, if not for injury.
Cabrera is recovering from a biceps injury.
A few days ago at Pensacola, he struck out seven with one walk and run allowed in 4 1/3 innings. He’s also logged six innings in two appearances at A Ball level.
The organization is going to have to be careful with Cabrera’s usage as he builds up. He threw 96 2/3 innings in 2019, and was at the alternate training site in 2020, while dealing with some arm issues.
Cabrera is too valuable of a prospect to rush. But clearly he is on a program to reach the big leagues at some point this year. Is July too early?
At the lower levels, lefty Dax Fulton is a prospect MO2 is keeping close tabs on. Our insiders are very impressed with the 19-year-old, who was Miami’s second-round pick in 2020. He was considered the best prep left-hander available when the Marlins selected the 6-foot-7 southpaw from Oklahoma.
Fulton is back from Tommy John surgery. He’s a reminder focus on talent over Minor League stats. His ERA is 5.63 with 28 strikeouts in 24 innings at Jupiter. Fulton has plenty of upside.
One of the more interesting position players at Jupiter is outfielder Victor Mesa Jr., the 19-year-old and younger brother of Victor Victor Mesa, who is on the injured list at Double-A.
Mesa Jr. is hitting .230 with a .306 on-base percentage. In 39 games, he has two home runs. How much power will Mesa Jr. display as he continues to develop? That could determine if he projects as a big league regular.
Mesa Jr. has always played up in levels, and usually is among the younger players in the league. He remains a prospect that MO2 finds interesting, and will continue to monitor.