The Marlins had high hopes this year coming off a crazy playoff chase fueled partially by Covid-based rule changes and the emergence of RHP Sixto Sanchez. 2022 was a different story—a coming-back-to-earth for the cellar dwelling fish—but that’s in the past after today, and the future remains bright in South Beach.

Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA

1. SS Kahlil Watson | 18 | CPX | 2024

My number one player in the 2021 draft class, Watson slid all the way to 16 after floating a bonus demand around six million dollars. How can you not be romantic about baseball?

The carrying tools here are all of them. He’s not a big dude at 5’9” 178 lbs, but Watson gets every ounce of that build into his swing and doesn’t sacrifice contact skills to do so. In nine games at the complex, Watson slashed .394/.524/.606 with 4 SB. Can’t start a career much better than that. Nice to see Watson employing his double-plus speed to great effect. I suspect he’ll crack the consensus top ten sometime next season. 

 

2. RHP Eury Perez | 18 | A+ | 2023

Best mechanics I’ve seen from a pitcher in the 6’8” range. Might have the best mechanics I’ve seen from an 18-year-old, especially his ability to repeat his calm, controlled delivery. His fastball gets up above the mid-90’s already, and his changeup stops and drops like a splitter. It’s a nightmare pitch the Marlins have had success teaching a lot of their young arms (see Cabrera, Edward). His curveball is plus too, but it’s the fastball, cambio combo that gives him an inside lane on becoming the game’s top pitching prospect after Shane Baz and Grayson Rodriguez graduate in 2022.

Click here for a look at Perez striking guys out.

 

3. RHP Edward Cabrera | 23 | MLB | 2021

Cabrera didn’t throw much in 2020 due to recurring elbow soreness then opened this season in the same limbo. Unlike about 90 percent of these stories, Cabrera’s did not wind up with Tommy John surgery. Instead, the thickening 6’5” righty was hitting 100 mph by midseason and combining that heat with a have-a-seat changeup at 92, a tight slider at 87 and an average curveball at 83. His slider has generated the best results thus far in the big leagues, holding opposing hitters to a .167 slugging percentage in 100 pitches. He’s thrown it 23.5 percent of the time, preferring the fastball (36.9%) and change (24.6%), each of which has been hit hard (.758 xSLG and .824 xSLG, respectively). He’s certainly a sleeper target for 2022 redraft leagues, but his command will have to take a step forward, something I think is fair to bet on given the organization’s history and the player’s baseline athleticism.

 

4. RHP Max Meyer | 23 | AAA | 2022

The 3rd overall pick in the 2020 draft has long battled relief concerns due to his size (6’ 195 lbs) and two-pitch focus, but he’ll be among the game’s best relievers if that’s his path, and I think the Marlins see him as a starting pitcher all the way, maybe even as a rotation piece early in 2022. If he masters the organization’s trademark changeup, he’ll have a shot to become an ace-level asset.

 

5. RHP Sixto Sanchez | 23 | MLB | 2020 

Mysterious shoulder fatigue kept Sixto sidelined until surgery for a tear in his posterior capsule dropped the final curtain in July. He might be too high here if he struggles to retain his top-of-the-scale velocity. The pitch-mix itself doesn’t work all that well together for missing bats, so losing a couple ticks could render him ineffective.

 

6. LHP Jake Eder | 23 | AA | 2023

Eder chewed through minor league bats all season until elbow soreness led to Tommy John surgery in September. If he comes back all the way, Eder will be part of the 2023 pitching staff, featuring solid command of a mid-90’s fastball most hitters struggle to pick up. He pairs the heater with a plus curveball and a changeup that improved throughout the year. Pretty typical of this development team to target pitchers with everything but a changeup then teach them a dynamic cambio.

 

7. LHP Dax Fulton | 20 | A+ | 2023

A large human (6’7” 225 lbs) with a huge breaking ball, Fulton found his level in his professional debut, scuffling a bit over five starts at High-A to close out his season but impressing overall—it’s not common for 19-year-olds to be holding their own at High-A. His path might be long and turbulent, but Fulton possesses a topside few arms can match.

 

8. SS Jose Salas | 18 | A | 2025

The 6’2” 191 pound Salas didn’t overwhelm with power in his debut season, but that plus raw pop could be his carrying too long term. He dominated for about a month on the complex (.370/.458/.511) before slowing down at Low-A (.250/.333/.315). I really like this player’s actions, but I worry about the switch-hitting and Miami’s recent track record with hitters.

 

9. 2B Ian Lewis | 19 | CPX | 2025

I first saw Ian Lewis during the Bahamian Home Run Derby when he was 16, I think. My memory is old, but if I’m picturing this accurately, the players were hitting off a ship and into the water? Could be combining multiple inputs, but the thing I remember for sure was L this wiry little dude was just uncorking on balls, so I filed the name away until this July of this year when Lewis splashed back down in the complex leagues, slashing .302/.354/.497 with 3 HR and 9 SB in 149 at bats. He only struck out 14.9 percent of the time, which gives me confidence he can control the violence in his swing. His best trait for our game will be double-plus speed.

 

10. OF JJ Bleday | 24 | AA | 2023

I don’t love including Bleday here because he hasn’t earned it on the field, slashing a paltry .212/.323/.373 across 397 at bats this year after logging a .257/.311/.379 back in 2019. Bleday was the 4th overall pick in his draft year on the strength of a breakout junior season, and if he were a 4th rounder, he’d have dropped off fantasy radars long ago. As is, the would-be power hitter edges out OF Peyton Burdick, SS Yidde Cappe and SS Nasim Nunez for the final spot on the list, largely because nobody in the system knocked him off. He’s a definite sell for me if anyone’s buying.

Thanks for reading! 

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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CJ
CJ
10 months ago

Where does Watson rank for future SS from this last draft? I grabbed Lawler and a few others were grabbed but he is available. Sounds like you dig him a bunch… thx

junior56
junior56
10 months ago

Thanks for the list Itch! Where would slot Joe Mack on this list?