Miami Marlins go back to the future following roster purge


The Marlins’ unpopular sell-off of many of their star players might have caused angst among fans, but it also resulted in a stockpile of young talent.

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Pitchers B/T Ht Wgt
37 Henderson AlvarezR/R6-1210
49 Arquimedes CamineroR/R6-4245
35 Jose CedaR/R6-5280
31 Steve CishekR/R6-6215
40 Mike DunnL/L6-0220
36 Sam DysonR/R6-2205
24 Nathan EovaldiR/R6-2215
52 Brad HandL/L6-3215
39 Chris HatcherS/R6-2200
43 Dan Jennings L/L6-3215
34 Tom KoehlerR/R6-2225
51 Braulio LaraL/L6-1180
23 Wade LeBlancL/L6-2215
57 Scott MaineL/L6-3215
47 Ricky NolascoR/R6-2215
67 Edgar OlmosL/L6-5180
44 A.J. RamosR/R5-10210
60 Jon RauchR/R6-11290
54 Evan ReedR/R6-4250
59 Alex SanabiaR/R6-2205
33 Jacob TurnerR/R6-5210
58 Ryan WebbR/R6-5230
Catchers B/T Ht Wgt
19 Rob BrantlyL/R6-2205
6 Jeff MathisR/R6-0200
53 Kyle SkipworthL/R6-4225
Infielders B/T Ht Wgt
60 Zack CoxL/R6-0215
29 Greg DobbsL/R6-1210
3 Adeiny HechavarriaR/R5-11180
25 Joe MahoneyL/L6-6240
5 Logan MorrisonL/L6-3240
30 Placido PolancoR/R5-10190
17 Donovan SolanoR/R5-9190
Outfielders B/T Ht Wgt
8 Chris CoghlanL/R6-0190
2 Gorkys HernandezR/R6-0190
65 Kyle JensenR/L6-3255
68 Marcell OzunaR/R6-2190
9 Juan PierreL/L5-11175
20 Justin RuggianoR/R6-2205
56 Alfredo SilverioR/R6-1215
27 Giancarlo StantonR/R6-5245


Pitchers B/T Ht Wgt
63 Jonathan AlbaladejoR/R6-5255
84 Michael BradyR/R6-0200
83 Adam ConleyL/L6-3185
70 Grant DaytonL/L6-2200
78 Jose FernandezR/R6-3215
71 Brian FlynnL/L6-8240
82 Andrew HeaneyL/L6-3180
81 Raudel LazoL/L5-10175
73 John MaineR/R6-4200
46 Doug MathisL/R6-3220
66 Zach PhillipsL/L6-1190
50 Chad QuallsR/R6-5220
45 Kevin SloweyR/R6-3205
62 Jordan SmithR/R6-4225
21 Mitch TalbotR/R6-2200
48 Michael WuertzR/R6-3210
Catchers B/T Ht Wgt
80 Wilfredo GimenezR/R6-0180
74 Jake JefferiesL/R6-2215
79 Jake RealmutoR/R6-1190
28 Craig TatumR/R6-1225
Infielders B/T Ht Wgt
85 Danny BlackL/R6-2170
72 Derek DietrichL/R6-1200
12 Matt DownsR/R6-1190
22 Nick GreenR/R5-11185
15 Kevin KouzmanoffR/R6-1210
64 Ed LucasR/R6-3205
13 Chris ValaikaR/R6-0215
Outfielders B/T Ht Wgt
61 Jordan BrownL-L6-0205
26 Austin KearnsR/R6-3240
77 Jake MarisnickR/R6-4200
16 Kevin MattisonL/L6-1195
11 Bryan PetersenL/R6-0190
76 Christian YelichL/R6-4189

Because the Marlins’ spring training clubhouse is not large enough to accommodate everyone, a bank of temporary lockers sits in the middle of the room to handle the overflow.

Call it the island of promise.

Call it the stockpile of possibility.

Call it the one silver lining — if you’re a Marlins fan — in the twisted wreckage of an offseason that saw the roster turned to rubble by a giant sledgehammer.

“It’s pretty special,” beams Marty Scott, the Marlins’ vice president of player development. “The general public was upset in the fall when we gave away some of our big-name guys. But, from my standpoint … .”

From Scott’s standpoint, it’s a blessing.

The name tags above the lockers in the middle represent one of the top stables of young talent in the majors, a building block the Marlins are counting on to put the organization back on the winning track.

Jose Fernandez, perhaps the top homegrown pitching phenom the Marlins have had since Josh Beckett, sits there. So does outfielder Christian Yelich, whose swing, scouts say, is as silky as they come.

They’re the Big 2. But they’re not the only ones.

There’s pitcher Adam Conley, outfielder Marcell Ozuna, outfielder Jake Marisnick, pitcher Andrew Heaney and catcher J.T. Realmuto. There are still others within the Marlins’ farm system — but not in big-league camp this spring — also prominent on the organization’s radar, such as left-hander Justin Nicolino.

The Marlins obtained Marisnick and Nicolino in the Toronto trade.

“That is your future,” said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations. “It’s your pipeline.”

It’s the bedrock on which rests the best chance for the Marlins to rise from the still glowing embers of a massive player sell-off that followed a second consecutive last-place finish in the National League East.

The Marlins never use the word “rebuilding,” though that is exactly what they’re in the process of doing. When they traded off Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez and just about anyone making a seven-figure salary, the Marlins acquired top-end young talent, much of it still in the incubation stage of development.

“I don’t really believe in patience, in terms of fans being patient, with a major-league club,” said Beinfest, who understands the fan fury that came with the latest purge. “It’s major-league entertainment, and that’s what they should expect.”

Which is why Beinfest and others aren’t dismissing the 2013 Marlins outright, even though the odds are stacked so high against them that it would not be a surprise to anyone if they lost 100 games. Another last-place finish could be in the offing.

But if the prospects develop as many expect, the Marlins shouldn’t remain in the cellar for very long.

Last year, Baseball America listed the Marlins 28th (out of 30 organizations) in its annual talent rankings. This year, after the Marlins loaded up on prospects in their series of unpopular trades, the publication vaulted them to fifth.

Baseball America ranks Fernandez as the sixth-best overall prospect in baseball, and has Yelich at 18 and Heaney at 40. It’s a vast improvement from what existed before Scott took over player development in September 2011.

The minor-league system was threadbare.

Once, when Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria asked who could be promoted from the minors at a particular position if the need arose, Scott replied: “Nobody.”

“It was, point blank, lack of depth, especially at the upper levels [of the minor-league system],” Scott said. “There wasn’t anybody we could call on.”

That’s changing.

“Our depth last year was from [Single A] Jupiter on down,” Scott said. “This year it’s from [Double A] Jacksonville on down.

“Next year we’re going to be solid.”

Most eyes will be on Jacksonville this summer. That’s where Fernandez, Yelich, Conley, Ozuna and Marisnick are expected to start the season. The trio of Yelich, Ozuna and Marisnick could be the Marlins’ outfield of the very near future. Yelich and Fernandez could get called up to the Marlins this season.

“I think we have a crop of young prospects that are closer [to the majors] than maybe we’d had the past couple of years,” Beinfest said.

Beinfest also acknowledged that, because of the additional depth of talent in the minors, the Marlins now have more to offer in trades than they’ve had the past couple of years.

“The bottom line with prospects, either they play for you or help you get other people to play for you,” Beinfest said.

The players sitting in the middle lockers probably won’t stick around camp for long this spring. They’ll be given a taste of big-league experience before being assigned to their minor-league teams.

But everyone expects them to return, if not this season, sometime in the very near future.

“I’m not the kind of guy who will say I should be here right now,” Yelich said. “Someone gave me good advice one time, which was, ‘don’t worry about how fast you get there. Just make sure you’re ready when you are.’ That’s really all you can control.”

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