With a plethora of prospects set to become Rule 5 eligible next December, the Marlins have a lot of decisions to make before next year’s winter meetings. Who are those names and with no Minor League season, how does Miami gauge and decide who to protect? Below, we explore.
MLB and the Players’ Union have finally made up their minds: 60 games beginning with a 30-man roster slowly dwindling down to the regular 26-man. Today, each team will be required to submit a list of 60 players. It can include players both on and not on the 40-man roster. These players and only these players may participate in the end of “spring” training and in the regular season. With no 2020 minor league season, we expect many of the Rule 5 draft eligibles to be included on the Marlins’ 60-man roster and “taxi squad” at some point during this season in order for the team to set their 40-man roster after the World Series and ultimately decide who and who not to protect next February.
Note that the 60-man pool can change throughout the year but once removed from it, a player cannot return. The departing player must either be injured, traded, released or exposed to waivers.
Here is a list of notable Marlins Rule 5 guys next year:
SP Braxton Garrett
SP Luis Palacios
SP Remey Reed
SP Josh Roberson
SP Trevor Rogers
SP George Soriano
RP Tyler Stevens
RP Colton Hock
RP Sean Guenther
C JD Osborne
IF Jose Devers
IF Joe Dunand
IF Dalvy Rosario
IF Riley Mahan
IF Lazaro Alonso
OF Jorge Caballero
OF Jerar Encarnacion
OF Thomas Jones
Of that list, here are the guys with the best projected odds of being named to the Marlins’ 60-man pool either today or at some point during the season and on the Marlins’ 40-man at the end of the year:
SP Braxton Garrett
Our seventh rated prospect, Braxton is a huge piece of the Marlins future rotation, likely in the middle of it. A 6’3”, 202 pound first rounder from 2016 who signed for $4,145,900, $389K over slot value, Garrett features already great stuff that is still improving and one of the cleanest deliveries in the system. 94-79 with lower half pounding heat, an already big league ready curve with tight arc and late action and a still-improving changeup that he masks well with arm speed and tunnel, Garret has 50-grade control with the ability for more as he feels out the changeup all the way. A minimal effort guy, Garrett can and has already gone over the century mark in starts and the stuff hasn’t dropped off at all. As long as the health holds up (he had TJ back in 2017), he profiles as a Scott Kazmir-esque rotational piece at the next level.
The Marlins know what they have in Garrett. He will take part in the end of camp but, already well polished for his age, we may not see him throw in an MLB game this season.
SP Trevor Rogers
Another first round prep lefty pick (2017) and another TJ recipient, Rogers is a 6’6”, 185 pounder out of New Mexico with a similar ceiling to Garrett. He absolutely dominated the Florida State League last year, holding down a 2.53 ERA by way of a 1.10 WHIP and 122/24 K/BB in 110 IP. His 21.5% K/BB led the league and he had the third best ERA and third best WHIP. The All-Star section made it up to AA for his final 26 innings of the campaign and was set to spend all of 2020 there.
In the same way that he is a lefty prep pick who made over slot value and came back advantageously from TJ, Trevor profiles to a very similar big league ceiling as his teammate Garrett but adds a big factor: size. 6’6”, 185, Rogers controls the body well and throws everything on a naturally downward plane. The size, which he has room to still grow more, allows for more velo on his already solid 90-94 mph heater that shows both sink and run as well as plus command. His best secondary is a slurvy slider again with good downward action and tilt that plays very well off his fastball. That tandem has been a catalyst in his success in the lower minors. Rogers will need to grow a third pitch to reach a similar ceiling as Garrett. He throws both a changeup and cutter and they will currently blend into each other. The cutter is his youngest pitch in terms of time spent throwing it, but due to the aforementioned natural downhill action he creates, its already flashing better than the very change that only holds a 30 grade. Rogers says he wants to continue building both pitches, but he could drop the change in favor of the cut piece that already has good downward break and a bit of glove side run. The 40-grade offering tunnels better off the aforementioned FB/SL combo and even though he just started throwing it last year, it has the makings of a plus pitch.
We saw a bit of Rogers in spring and the Marlins will see more from him at the end of camp. He could get into a few games out of the pen this season in order to continue building that third pitch. Rogers draws favorable comps to JA Happ.
IF Jose Devers
A 2016 international signee by the Yankees out of the DR who commanded a $250K price tag, Devers came to the Marlins in the Stanton trade. Thought to be a distant third piece next to Starlin Castro and Jorge Guzman, Devers has could wind up being the star return chip of the deal. In two seasons with Miami, Devers has already made it up to AA and, if not for injury while leading the Florida State League in batting last June (.325/.384/.365), would probably have already gone even further. He was invited to spring training as an NRI this season and will very likely be back in camp in mid July.
A wiry 6’, 174, Devers, who won’t be 21 until December, is a contact-emanating hitter whose best mechanic is his bat speed. He can almost always at least make contact, even on pitches slightly out of the zone. Devers appeared to temper the swing and miss he showed in 2018 last year, improving plate vision. He will need to show that on a more consistent basis if he’s going to succeed as a for-average threat at the next level. Jose’s best overall tool is his plus-plus foot speed, all the way up to 60-grade. He will use it to do many things: beat out infield hits, turn singles into doubles and steal bags. In 187 career MiLB games, Devers has a 37/10 SB/CS.
What really pulls Devers’ game down is his lack of any power whatsoever. He doesn’t hit many gaps and hits even less fences. There’s room for that to come as he grows into his body in stateside facilities but he doesn’t profile as much more than a 40-grade power ceiling. However, with disruptive hit and on-base tools on top of even better defensive tools at short where he has the ability to stick full time. If he can’t grow into more power, the Marlins, who have a ton of shortstop depth at the lower levels, may be wise to start moving Devers around, making him a catalytic, spark-inducing and equal run scoring and run saving bench piece. If José can make up for the time lost last year and begin creating some sort of lift with the bat, he could approach a Miguel Rojas-type ceiling (a great mentor for him). If not he is floor Adeiny Hechavarria.
He could see some big league action this year, especially if the Marlins choose to start trying him out at other positions and in order to gauge where the bat is after his season-ending injury. Either way, we expect him to be pushed to AA at some point next season.
OF Jerar Encarnacion
The surprise of spring training, Jerar, a a 6’5”, 240 slugger out of the DR, parlayed a .276/.331/.425 2019 MiLB season between A and A+ into a 6-14, 2 HR showing in Miami Blue. Don Mattingly said it all about Jerar during a postgame interview in March:
Donnie on Jerar’s power potential:
“Jerar is off the charts. When he hits ‘em, they stay hit.”
— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) February 25, 2020
Jerar has absurd lower, all the way up to 60-grade. It’s the best power tool in the entire Marlins organization. And it’s still growing. That said, Jerar has been historically immature in terms of plate coverage mechanics especially when it comes to pulling off and letting his head come off the ball. Those habits though were much less pronounced from the get go of his short showing this spring. Suddenly, Jerar could do this:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) February 22, 2020
With mechanics that mirror a young Mike Stanton but not much in the way of defense (outside of a plus arm), Jerar’s big league future with the Marlins got a huge boost when the NL adopted DH. We may see Encarnacion moonlight in that spot under the tutelage of pro hitting coaches with the hopes of continuing to improve his opposite field coverage this big league season before he joins the Shrimp in 2021.
SP Luis Palacios
Palacios has been something of a legend wt the lowest levels of the minors for the Marlins organization. And he won’t be 20 until this coming Wednesday. Selected as a teenager in the international draft in 2016, Palacios’ minor league stats read this way: 152.1 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 147/21 K/BB. He came stateside last year and struck out 42 while walking just 2 and allowing five earned runs in 40.1 IP. He was set for a huge developmental year this minor league season. While that has been put on hold, the Marlins would like to see if Palacios’ potential can begin to live up to the next level before making him available to other teams this winter.
Palacios is a command-and -control over stuff guy who shows the ability to paint corners at will with three pitches. Those pitches aren’t lights out but they aren’t bad either. While Palacios won’t blow it by you with velo, the 6’2”, 160 pounder is already sitting at 91 with tons more physical projection to grow into. He owns two breakers: a high-70s slider and a low-mid 80’s change. The slider has high arc and good late sweeping action. It stands at 40-grade with the ability to become more with more pronounced velocity separation. Palacios’ changeup shows some good one plane break to his arm side and also stands to
improve as he gains a better feel for his arm slot and speed. Currently, he can speed it up more than the heat which could run him into trouble at the full season levels.
While his command and control is well ahead and is definitely his anchor tool, the stuff will
need to take a jump if Luis is to have a big league rotational future. Still, even though it has been exclusively at the lowest levels of MiLB, you don’t post the results he did in his first two seasons pro while always pitching against older average competition by accident. We see the Marlins placing Luis on the 60-man taxi squad and, like Jerar, getting him some valuable time with pro coaches and facilities, hopefully building both the physicality and the stuff closer to the current grade of the command and control.
IF Lazaro Alonso
A 2016 international free agent signee out of Cuba in 2016, Alonso is a guy who has continued to live up to his huge power potential despite being pushed hard in each of his first two years stateside with the Marlins organization. Last year with the Hammerhwads, he completely went off: .294/.393/.434. In the Florida State League, one of the most pitcher-friendly circuits in baseball. Laz did most of his damage in the second half, continuing to prove his ability to adjust to better stuff advantageously.
Like Jerar, he’s a bat-only option and a guy who could play his way onto the squad in the early years of the NL adoption of DH. Even more than Jerar though who is three years younger, Laz will need to prove gain ability to hit for opposite field power.
An older guy who is very limited defensively but who shows absolutely monstrous power when he finds a barrel, the Marlins may give Laz, who has actually shown very good patience for an extremely heavy power threat, the chance to show out against big league stuff this season but unless he goes off, we see him going unprotected.
SP Josh Roberson
Roberson is a well built 6’3, 175 pound righty who was primed to be an early round section coming out of college but his junior year, his first year as a mainstay rotational piece, was cut short due to TJ. He came to the Marlins as a 12th rounder as a lower risk higher reward type piece and has begun to live up to the latter side of that potential. He sits 93-95 with the fastball and can ramp up near triple digits. He has both a slider and curve which currently blend into each other but they create a nasty power slurvy breaking piece which he can manipulate the grip on for different breaking action and he controls it well. It stands as a current 50-grade pitch with room to go. He also mixes in a changeup. He will need to grow the feel for that pitch to stick as a starter, but it shows flashes of a useable third offering.
Roberson is a guy who built arm strength back quickly and whose stuff immediately played up to MiLB competition despite missed time. The only thing you’d have liked to have seen more from out of Josh is the ability to induce whiffs, but as long as he’s limiting walks the way he has, he is an intriguing deeper-down prospect who could at least contribute out of a Major League bullpen. Based off what he showed early in MiLB camp this year, the Marlins could opt to place him on the 60-man squad and feel out what they have in him at the back end of camp and potentially out of the pen in 2020.
SP Remey Reed
Another guy who has missed considerable time with injury, Reed, a sixth round pick in 2016, underwent TJ in 2018 and missed the entire season. Despite being nearly pen exclusive in college, the Marlins championed Reed’s size and solid three pitch arsenal and chose to continue developing him as a starter. At both short and full season A ball, he was effective: 2.75 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 76/14 K/BB.
Reed is huge: 6’5, 220 and he uses it well to shorten distance and plane downhill. The delivery is smooth and he has two plus pitches, a fastball up as high as 97 and a curveball at 77-79 with good late 12-6 drop and placement, an any-count pitch for him. What works against Reed: the age and missed time against better MiLB competition. And he will suffer another year if they this season unless the Marlins 60-man him. For that reason, the club might in order to see what they have in Reed, but due to his age and what the Marlins have coming starting pitching wise, he may be continuing his MLB career elsewhere.
OF Jorge Caballero
Caballero is a 2016 international free agent signee from Venezuela who missed all of 2019 with a presumptive shoulder injury. Before that though, Caballero raked as a teenager both in the DSL and stateside. His career MiLB stat line reads .282/.394/.360 with a 125 career wRC+. However, Caballero has already missed what was primed to be a big level of development for him at the lower levels and will now miss another unless the Marlins 60-man him. For that reason, we believe there is an outside chance the Marlins might do so.
Despite missing all of last season, he showed back up at camp this year and not only did he look healthy, he looked to have added double-digit poundage to his listed 6’1”, 170 build something they will be paramount if Caballero is to live up to his full potential. We also observed Caballero go yard in a sim game which will be another big facet for Caballero if he hopes to compete in future Marlins outfields. Even if he goes unprotected (due to missed time, he likely will), Caballero will be just 21 next spring training and already the owner of a beautiful swing with improving size. While we don’t see him being placed on the 60-man roster or being protected, if he is a Marlin next season, he’s an attractive deeper-down piece.