When it comes to prospects, we focus so much on the tools that these players have and what they project to become at the major league level. However, there is something to be said for the guys who actually produce on the field while moving through the minors.
These are the Miami Marlins minor leaguers who most deserve recognition based on their 2023 numbers.
All stats updated entering September 15 (the MiLB regular season isn’t over yet for Triple-A Jacksonville and Double-A Pensacola)
International Player of the Year: Andres Valor
Signing out of Venezuela for $520k, Valor has gotten off to a great start to his young pro career. Slashing .294/.360/.466/.825 with five home runs, 25 RBIs and a 116 wRC+, Valor is only 17 years old. Something to note is that outfielder was helped by a .377 BABIP, which will be difficult to maintain at higher levels against improved fielders. It’s important for him to reduce his strikeout rate a bit against right-handed pitching and put more balls in play.
Valor was also an easy choice given the fact that the rest of the 2023 signing class has been underwhelming for the most part.
Most Surprising Player: Will Banfield
Ever since being drafted by the Marlins, Banfield has struggled offensively, never coming anywhere close to a wRC+ over 100 at a full-season level. There were positive signs late in the 2022 season after he earned the promotion to AA Pensacola.
Banfield stuck at the AA level this season and proved that his strong finish was more than just a hot streak. Currently slashing .262/.305/.477/.782 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs along with great defense, he leads the Blue Wahoos in hits and total bases. The 23-year-old has figured out how to consistently lift the ball and let his strength do the rest.
The concern that I have with Banfield is his aggressiveness at the plate. There is still plenty of swing-and-miss to his game and very few walks. It’s unclear how that approach will translate as he moves up.
It’s no secret that the Marlins have gotten terrible production from their catchers in the majors. Banfield is someone who will be competing for a spot on their 26-man roster come 2024 spring training.
Underrated Prospect of the Year: Javier Sanoja
Javier Sanoja has put up one of the best offensive seasons in the Marlins farm system, yet he doesn’t get talked about accordingly.
The speedy Sanoja began the season with the Jupiter Hammerheads and was promoted to High-A Beloit in August. He finished the season slashing .298/.348/.388/.736 with four home runs, 67 RBIs and 37 stolen bases. Just as impressive, he did that while playing premium defensive positions, mostly center field and shortstop.
In the spirit of fellow Venezuelan Luis Arráez, Sanoja struck out at a 7.0% rate at both levels, which was amongst the lowest in the minor leagues.
Undrafted free agent Jake Thompson also deserves a shoutout here. He has a 151 wRC+ at High-A and Double-A combined.
Top 2023 Draftee: Noble Meyer
The start-to-start improvement we have seen from Marlins first-round pick Noble Meyer is impressive. After a rather shaky pro debut, Meyer’s pitch count has gone up after each start. In his latest start, which was a Jupiter Hammerheads playoff game, the right-hander tossed 3.2 IP where he didn’t give up a hit and struck out two.
For the most part, his fastball velocity has been in the mid-90s and he already has a lot of confidence in his breaking balls. Meyer feels that getting ahead in the count is something that he wants to improve, which comes down to fastball location.
Sixth-round pick Jake DeLeo also made a strong case to win this award.
Pitcher of the Year: Patrick Monteverde
With Eury Pérez heading to the big leagues and other Marlins pitchers with the highest ceilings getting limited workloads, the clear candidate to win the award is Pat Monteverde.
Posting a 4.18 ERA through AA and AAA (122.2 IP), Monteverde was especially dominant during the first half of the season. Even with limited fastball velocity, Monteverde has been able to find his success by generating a lot of soft contact and swing and miss.
Expect Monteverde to begin the 2024 minor league season with the Jumbo Shrimp.
There were two relievers in the minors who really stood out as well: Anthony Maldonado (1.72 ERA and 73 K in 47.0 IP) and Luarbert Arias (1.87 ERA and 77 K in 57.2 IP).
Hitter of the Year: Troy Johnston
This was an easy choice.
Troy Johnston’s first stint with AAA Jacksonville didn’t go well, so he was asked to repeat Pensacola in 2023. After he slashed .296/.396/.567/.963 with 18 home runs, 83 RBIs and a 151 wRC+ down there, the lefty bat earned another promotion to the Jumbo Shrimp.
So far through 43 games played at the highest minor league level, Johnston is slashing .339/.407/.560/.967 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs. On top of what he has done with the bat, he has been even better on the basepaths, accomplishing the first 20/20 season for a Marlins prospect since 2008.
The 26-year-old really has nothing left to prove in the minors now that both his power and speed have taken steps forward. Having a player like Johnston on the current Marlins roster could help out their offense. Instead, it seems that he’ll have to wait for 2024 to compete for a spot.