Going off of Alex Carver’s article highlighting Marlins prospects at the lower levels who deserve promotions, it is also time to show love to the upper levels (Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Jacksonville). Here are five players ready for their next challenge.
C Will Banfield (AA)
The Marlins 2018 competitive balance round pick is finally living up to the hype as he has found an offensive rhythm, slashing .267/.291/.474/.765 with 12 home runs, 43 RBIs, and a 97 wRC+. Combined with his great defense behind the plate, Banfield deserves a promotion to AAA and needs to be looked at as a potential MLB option for Miami in the near future.
Statistically, the Marlins have the third-worst catching tandem in the majors when it comes to hitting. Banfield could possibly be an upgrade there and he has familiarity with the Marlins pitchers already from his time in major league spring training as a non-roster invitee.
The only concern with Banfield is the fact that he relies a lot on power to have success. His walk rate in 2023 is only 3%. Another reason he hasn’t been promoted yet is AAA Jacksonville has a crowded catching situation with Austin Allen, Paul McIntosh and Santiago Chávez.
C Austin Allen (AAA)
How about making room for Banfield by calling up veteran Austin Allen from the Jumbo Shrimp? Allen signed a minor league deal with the Marlins this past offseason. He has been on a power surge for most of the year, slashing .232/.324/.574/.898 with 18 home runs (tied for the most among Marlins minor leaguers), 47 RBIs, and a 112 wRC+. The 29-year-old has put up those numbers despite being held back by a very low .197 BABIP.
Allen’s strikeout rate has improved a lot from where it was in 2022 when he was with the Athletics and Cardinals organizations. He’s been especially hot recently, leading all of Minor League Baseball with 20 RBIs in July.
Realistically, it is more likely that the Marlins acquire a catcher via trade in the coming weeks than call up Allen to take the spot of Jacob Stallings or Nick Fortes, but he has earned a shoutout with his production.
INF/OF Xavier Edwards (AAA)
Xavier Edwards earned his way up to the majors earlier this season and he’s been even better since going back down to Jacksonville. Overall, he is slashing .368/.437/.466/.903 with three home runs, 27 RBIs, and a 133 wRC+, leading the International League batting title race.
To make himself more versatile, Edwards began playing center field in spring training, and thus far, he has played it well in the minors (no errors in 25 games). But when Jonathan Davis and Jazz Chisholm Jr. suffered their recent injuries, Miami called up Garrett Hampson and Dane Myers instead.
Even in a limited role, calling up Edwards now makes a lot of sense because of the offense he can provide with his contact skills.
1B Troy Johnston (AA)
This is the most obvious promotion candidate. Troy Johnston has been repeating the AA level throughout the season and has proven everything that he has had to prove. He is slashing .277/.389/.558/.947 with 18 home runs, 66 RBIs, and a 148 wRC+.
The biggest improvements that Johnston has made are adding speed and working to get more extra-base hits. He already has four triples this season and will have more doubles than he had in 2022. Johnston also has a career-high 14 stolen bases, so shedding weight in the offseason has really made a big difference for him.
He should be at AAA and next in line to make the big league roster when there’s an opening at first base. The Marlins’ future at the position is unclear because Yuli Gurriel and Garrett Cooper are both on one-year deals.
LHP Patrick Monteverde (AA)
The top Marlins minor league pitcher this season has easily been Patrick Monteverde. Posting a 1.93 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 10.13 K/9, and a 3.31 BB/9 through 74.2 innings pitched, Monteverde is having the best season of his career. Monteverde has been so good that he alongside Nasim Nuñez were chosen to participate in the All-Star Futures Game.
It wouldn’t hurt to promote the 2021 draft pick to AAA to showcase himself at the next level of Minor League Baseball.