Marlins minor leaguers having under-the-radar success

Highlighting Marlins prospects who have quietly had consistent production in 2023.

The following Miami Marlins prospects did not enter professional baseball with much hype and they aren’t high up on the organization’s top prospect list…at least not yet. Their great performance on the field in 2023 is deserving of some recognition regardless.

RHP Ike Buxton (High-A Beloit)

2023 Stats (A/A+): 2.34 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 9.54 K/9, 50.0 IP

Buxton, a 2022 Marlins draft pick, began the season with Low-A Jupiter as a reliever. Once they added him to the Hammerheads rotation, he continued to put up great numbers, and with a 1.62 ERA through 12 appearances, he earned the promotion to High-A Beloit. He’s been decent in two starts with the Sky Carp, pitching into the sixth inning both times. Buxton still needs to prove that he has enough control and a deep enough pitch mix to be a starter at the higher levels, but it is nice to see a player who was barely spoken about entering 2023 putting himself on the prospect map.

OF Jorge Caballero (High-A Beloit)

2023 Stats (A/A+): .315/.398/.409/.807 with 3 HR and 41 RBI

Caballero joined the Marlins organization way back in 2016. He had a scorching hot start at the Low-A level (138 wRC+). The Venezuelan outfielder has cooled off at High-A, but when you look at his season stats, he has been one of the best bats in the system this season. The main question is whether Caballero can increase his power moving forward. He has only homered 10 times in his long minor league career.

RHP Juan De La Cruz (Low-A Jupiter)

2023 Stats (FCL/A): 3.66 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.63 WHIP, 9.00 K/9, 32.0 IP

De La Cruz could be a quick riser. Signed for $150k in January 2022, he became the first player from that Marlins international signing class to reach full-season ball. The 18-year-old had one bad start on July 15 where he allowed six earned runs; in his five other Jupiter starts combined, he has allowed only five earned runs.

1B Torin Montgomery (High-A Beloit)

2023 Stats (A/A+): .333/.465/.477/.942 with 4 HR and 35 RBI

Miami’s 14th-round pick from the 2022 draft, Torin Montgomery has been the best hitter among Marlins prospects this season in terms of wRC+ (165). After striking out at high percentages in his first summer of pro ball, Montgomery has cut down a lot in that department (19.6 K%). Montgomery began 2023 as a part-time player before earning his way into a larger role and better lineup spot. In his final two series with the Hammerheads, he slashed .452/.553/.677/1.230.

Montgomery would have moved up in the system sooner if he had more defensive value, but he has only played first base in minor league games so far. Adding more positional flexibility would be valuable.

INF/OF Javier Sanoja, Low-A Jupiter

2023 Stats (A): .309/.355/.403/.758 with 1 HR and 57 RBI

Sanoja already stood out for his low strikeout rate, but he has continued to improve on that while repeating Low-A. He is getting on base at a good clip and running aggressively, leading Marlins prospects with 45 stolen base attempts (29 SB). Defensively, Sanoja has split time between center field and the middle infield spots. Listed at only 5’7″, he’s unlikely to be much of a power threat.

1B/OF Jake Thompson (High-A Beloit)

2023 Stats (A+): .248/.337/.482/.819 with 12 HR and 30 RBI

An undrafted free agent like Thompson is as under-the-radar as it gets. The 25-year-old leads the Sky Carp in homers this season. Although Thompson has been good, his lack of production against left-handed pitching is a concern (.143/.250/.257/.507).

1B/DH Zach Zubia (High-A Beloit)

2023 Stats (A+): .290/.428/.484/.912 with 9 HR and 27 RBI

Zubia has been in a similar situation to Montgomery as a right-handed-hitting first baseman who mashes. He led the Marlins organization in walks in 2022 and his walk rate is almost as high this season (18.0%). There wouldn’t be much playing for Zubia in Double-A because top draft pick Jacob Berry is blocking him, unless Zubia gets used as their designated hitter. He should at least get a taste of that level before the season ends.

Photo by Kevin Barral/Fish On First

One response to “Marlins minor leaguers having under-the-radar success”

  1. Juan De La Cruz saved his best start for right after this piece was published: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K on Saturday

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