The 2023 Dominican Summer League and Florida Complex League seasons have begun. Once again, the Miami Marlins have one FCL affiliate (FCL Marlins) and two in the DSL (DSL Miami and DSL Marlins). Rookie ball leagues are home to the youngest players in professional baseball, but someday, these prospects could develop into impactful major leaguers. Don’t wait until later to get to know them.
Based on the information we have on these players right now, I’ll be going through key names on each of the affiliate’s rosters.
INF Yoffry Solano was the top Marlins signing in the 2022 international signing period. In 2022, Solano slashed .320/.393/.398/.791 with a 8.5% walk rate and 16.2% strikeout rate. He didn’t hit a single home run. Solano was good but not quite the star of the show, and that’s why he is repeating the DSL for the time being.
The 18-year-old switch-hitter has a lot of speed. Offensively, he’s been more productive from the left side of the plate so far.
From the 2023 international class, INF Jayden Felicia and INF Erick Lara are going to be two players to keep an eye out for. Felicia is a 5’11”, 153-pound, left handed hitting shortstop. Lara is a 6’1″, 191-pound, left handed hitting third baseman who will probably project to stick at his current position. Lara’s arm strength tops out at 90 MPH, which is impressive at his age (turning 17 on Saturday).
Another signing that the Marlins made in 2023 was OF Jancory De La Cruz. I personally am excited to see the 6’2″, 201-pounder. With average arm strength of 85 MPH and topping out at 87 MPH, he will likely play the outfield corners, but maybe the Marlins will try him out in center at some point.
Looking at the pitchers on the DSL Marlins, RHP Derek Arellan is a 17-year-old from Venezuela. In his arsenal, he has a fastball which sits between 84-90 MPH, changeup (82-84 MPH), and curveball (71-75 MPH). It is encouraging to see a prospect entering pro ball with a legitimate three-pitch arsenal and filling out his 6’2″ frame (listed at 195 pounds). That will help Arellan’s chances of developing as a starter.
RHP Bayant Melo stands at 6’3″, 189 pounds. Melo is an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.
LHP Luis Porfirio stands at 6’0″ feet, 195 pounds. The 17-year-old throws a 84-87 MPH fastball, a sweeping slider which is between 69-73 MPH, and a changeup (80-82 MPH). Long term, it will necessary for Porfirio’s velo to tick up significantly.
LHP Eiver Espinoza stands at 6’6″, 178 pounds. In 20 DSL innings pitched last season, Espinoza had a 1.35 ERA and 19 K’s, but also 15 walks and six wild pitches. The 19-year-old can get a ticket to come stateside if his control improves.
Finally, the DSL Marlins have Jesus Abreu (6’0″, 211 lbs) and Adrian Bello (5’11”, 171 lbs) at the catching position. Abreu has the slight edge in arm strength at the moment (81 MPH to Bello’s 80 MPH).
Meanwhile, this DSL Miami team features bigger names with even higher upside.
Kicking it off with Janero Miller, the top Marlins signing this past international signing period. Miller is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder who comes from the Bahamas, a place where the Marlins have been heavily scouting in recent years.
Miller’s fastball, curveball and changeup were on display during preseason scrimmages.
As for the bat, he has a very laid-back stance, but shows a little twitch in his bat during his load, a little bit like Gary Sheffield’s back in the day. Miller made his DSL debut as a DH on Monday. The question now becomes if he will be able to develop simultaneously as both a pitcher and a hitter.
OF Andres Valor is a 6’2″, 199-pound Venezuelan who bats from the right side.
OF Osvaldo Heredia is a 6’2″, 172-pound lefty hitter. At just 15 years old, Heredia was already topping out at 92 MPH in arm strength, though it required a max-effort throwing motion for him to get it there.
Switch-hitting OF Daniel Gaitor is another product from the Bahamas. He stands at 5’10”, 184 pounds.
INF Fabian Lopez, who signed with the Marlins for $650k, sticks out a lot. At 6’1″, 164 pounds, the glove will stick at shortstop for the time being. Lopez homered in his professional debut on Monday.
RHP Johan Palacios is intriguing simply for the fact that he stands at 6’11” (he was only 6’9″ when signed in 2022). In this article (Spanish), former Marlins official Clifford Nuitter spoke about his potential.
RHP Yohanfer Santana, who stands at 6’7″, has a fastball at 87 MPH, changeup at 84 MPH, curveball at 77 MPH, and a slider at 77 MPH. He should have good enough secondary stuff to get a lot of swing-and-miss in the DSL.
Finally, RHP Hamlet Garcia was identified by a team source as a player to keep an eye out for. The 17-year-old Dominican is smaller than most pitchers at 5’10”, 198 pounds.
The FCL roster is a diverse group including DSL success stories who’ve been promoted along with some older prospects trying to get their baseball careers back on track.
INF Marco Vargas was arguably the Marlins’ top DSL player in 2022, slashing .319/.421/.456/.877 with 38 RBIs and 14 stolen base with a 139 wRC+. Vargas is regarded as one of the top international players in the Marlins system and was added to the latest edition of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospect list. Now he makes his way stateside and should be an exciting prospect to watch.
Defensively, Vargas was alternating between second base, third base and shortstop last season. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see that continue—the Marlins can wait until later in his career to focus on determining his permanent home.
OF Jose Gerardo and OF Antony Peguero are also in Pipeline’s top 30 after outstanding debut seasons.
Peguero, who is known for his bat-to-ball skills, slashed .286/.355/.423/.778 with five home runs and 33 RBIs with a 112 wRC+. Peguero will be someone who we will be keeping a close eye out on to see what differences and adjustments he makes stateside that we may not have seen in the D.R.
As for Gerardo, he holds a lot more power as he hit 11 home runs in the 2022 season, slashing .284/.417/.551/.969. His throwing arm is also as powerful as anybody’s in the Marlins farm system.
C Ronald Hernandez will be repeating the FCL initially, where he slashed .236/.329/.321/.651 with 22 RBIs and a 90 wRC+ last season. He stood out during 2023 minor league camp and frankly should be moving up to Low-A Jupiter sooner rather than later.
More Roster Notes
- Players demoted to the FCL after playing at full-season levels earlier this year: Noah Williamson and Angeudis Santos.
- In addition to Williamson, recent MLB Draft picks RHP Brandon White, RHP Jack Gowen and C Carmine Lane are on the FCL team.
- Hiroshi Takahashi is from Tokyo, Japan, but moved to Venezuela and speaks Spanish. He will be with DSL Miami.