The Miami Marlins have a type. It was clear throughout the 2019 MLB draft, when they tried to load up on position players who are already proven hitters more than power hitters or pure athletes. It’s clear on the current roster, which is filled with high-contact bats and an emphasis on on-base rather than extra-base.
It was clear once again Tuesday, when the Marlins signed 11 international prospects on the first day of the international signing period and just about every one of the free-agent hitters fit the profile Miami has come to value.
“I think as we continue to scout the hit profile, and the contact rate is something that organizationally we’re mindful of in the draft and internationally,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Wednesday. “We want athletes, guys who can play the middle of the field, but with a focus on trying to add hit-first profile players.”
Among the 11-player haul were five shortstops and two top-25 prospects in the MLB.com rankings, both of whom play shortstop and fit the hit-first profile. Jose Salas, the No. 10 player, is a switch-hitting shortstop from Venezuela with good speed and a line-drive approach at the plate. Junior Sanchez, the No. 24 player in the class, is from the Dominican Republic and has a line-drive approach to all fields. Another potential prize for is Ian Lewis, another shortstop and a player who will have a chance to be the only the second Bahamian to reach the Majors since 1977.
Salas, though, is the prize of class, a 6-foot-1 16-year-old who has drawn comparisons to Carlos Beltran because of his frame and switch-hitting pedigree.
“It’s amazing that these kids are just 16 years old and it’s our job to project and see what they potentially can be, but you look at him and it’s a very good-looking young man in terms of his now physical talents,” Hill said. “But when you think about when you get him into your system and your conditioning, and the daily routine of being a professional baseball player, what they can potentially be and that’s what makes the process so exciting.”
The rest of the class was filled with five right-handed pitchers. Although none cracked the top 30 of the MLB rankings, Hill noted Eury Perez as a potential gem. The Dominican righty has a similar profile to Sandy Alcantara, Hill said.
“Either 6-6 or 6-7. It’s long,” Hill said. “When you look at him, it’s above-average coordination, so you think that young that they’re still growing into their bodies and the ability to repeat their deliveries is part of the process, but you look at him and you see a lot of tonight’s starter, Sandy Alcantara, from where he is right now as a 16-year-old. Very good body control, ability to repeat his delivery and it’s that type of ability that will allow him hopefully to move up through our system.”
Even though most of the top prospects this year were signed Tuesday and Miami has nearly exhausted its international signing pool, the Marlins can continue making moves until next year. Each international signing period runs for a little less than a year. Teams can trade for international bonus pool money, so Miami could potentially add more as it nears the trade deadline July 31, although only one top-30 prospect has not yet agreed to a contract.
The lone straggler is Yiddi Cappe, a shortstop from Cuba and the No. 7 player in the class. The Marlins are one of the favorites to land Cappe, although the infielder is now expected to hold off from signing until the 2020 period.
“We have to continue pushing,” Hill said. “Our goal is to have a sustainable product and year in and year out we want to compete for championships and to be able to do that is by adding as much top-end talent as possible and that’s our goal every year. We wish it was more top-30 players that we were adding.”