It’s been an uneventful end to a slow season for the last place Marlins, and few fans can look forward to an offseason that could see Giancarlo Stanton, the club’s last star, traded away, but perhaps Miamians can take solace in the Arizona Fall League. It is after all, a league that has seen some of the best Marlins’s youngsters, from the aforementioned all star Stanton to high-upside rookie Christie Yelich. This year’s crop may not feature anyone with Stanton’s grotesque power but its still a talented group; Outfielder Brent Keys, Infielders Colin Moran and Derick Dietrich, and pitchers Andrew Heaney, Edgar Olmos, Colby Suggs, and Nick Wittgren
Brent Keys – From Christian Yelich to Marcel Ozuna to all star Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins are flush with young, talented outfielders. Although generally unnoticed throughout his baseball career, Keys is likely to join them soon. A high upside prep pick back in 2009, Keys, has torn up the minors the last two seasons. He hit .335 in A ball last season and topped that with a crooked .341 average between A+ and AA this year. He lacks power, but doesn’t strike out, having collected more walks than K’s each of the last two years, so his on base ability should translate in the majors. The Marlins have been aggressive of late with their youngsters, so a good performance in the AFL and spring training could put Keys on the fast track to the majors.
Colin Moran – The sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, Moran, 20, is known mostly for his bat as he has the upside of a .300 average, 25 Home run hitter. He played well in his first professional reps in A ball, hitting to a .299/.354/.442 slash line. He’s never going to win a gold glove at third, but he’s an adequate fielder with an above average arm. If he plays well in the AFL, he could start next season in AA, although the A+ league is more likely.
Derick Dietrich – Like a handful of other Marlins prospects, Dietrich made a premature jump to this majors this year. In 53 games for the Marlins, the second baseman hit .214 with an anemic .275 OBP, although he did show above average pop, knocking out nine home runs and posting a .405 slugging percentage. You shouldn’t put too much stock into his major league performance as Dietrich probably should have spent the entire season in AA, where he hit .271/.381/.509 in 257 plate appearances. He is the second baseman of the future for the Fish, and the AFL will be a good opportunity to prove that he is better than his numbers may indicate.
Andrew Heaney – The #43 prospect in baseball heading into the year, according to Baseball America, Heaney only improved his stock by utterly shutting down the minor leagues. After returning from a Lat Strain that sidelined him for the first couple months of the season, Heaney dominated the Florida State League (A+ level), posting a 0.88 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 9.6 SO/9 over 61.2 innings. He then received a call up to AA, where he continued his excellency, going 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA over six starts. If he performs well in the AFL, and then in the minors next season, he could be in the Marlins’ rotation by the summer of 2014.
Edgar Olmos – After struggling for a couple seasons as a starter, the Marlins finally moved Olmos to the bullpen towards the end of last season and have not been disappointed. The 22 year old righthander pitched to a 2.50 ERA over 50 AA innings in 2013, earning himself a brief big league call up. Control is the biggest issue for Olmos as he walked 4.8 batters per nine innnings in the minors and 5.4 per nine in his short major league stint.
Colby Suggs – Another reliever, Suggs was dominant enough as a closer in college to be worthy of the 73rd overall pick in this year’s draft. After signing quickly, Suggs pitched well across three levels, posting a 3.29 ERA and a very promising 12.5 SO/9 in 27.1 innings. His mid 90’s fastball and tight slider combo is nasty but he needs to learn how to command his pitches as had a 5.9 BB/9 in his first professional season and didn’t show much control at the college level either. Still, relief prospects can rise quickly, and Suggs could be a september call up as soon as next year.
Nick Wittgren – While Heaney was dominating as a starter, Wittgren was coming in behind him to shut the door out of the pen. In 58 1/3 innings between A+ and AA, Wittgren put up stellar numbers across the board – a 0.77 ERA, .891 WHIP, 9.7 SO/9, 1.5 BB/9, 0.2 BB/9. Although his fastball is league average (89-91 MPH), his power curve can buckle even the best of hitters, and he commands his pitches well. It should not surprise anyone if Wittgren breaks camp with the Marlins next season.