Edward Cabrera and Sixto Sanchez stepped onto the field at Marlins Park on Thursday morning, thinking about what might be coming in the not-so-distant future.
The duo was part of a group of 15 Miami Marlins prospects taking part in a minor-league strength and conditioning program at the ballpark. Baseball activities were brushed to the side in favor of teaching the up-and-comers about best practices to keep themselves healthy.
But the day also gave two of the Marlins’ top pitching prospects an opportunity to bask in the moment.
“Can you imagine us playing here next year?” Cabrera asked his teammate. “We laughed about it.”
They might not need to imagine it.
Barring injury, Sanchez — the Marlins’ top prospect and the No. 22 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline — feels like a lock to get his first major-league call-up at some point during the 2020 season.
Cabrera, who has been in the Marlins organization since signing as an international free agent in the summer of 2015, has the chance to make his case as well after his best minor-league season to date.
After three shaky seasons to begin his professional career, Cabrera, 21, showed arguably the most improvement among Marlins prospects this season. He went 9-4 with a 2.23 ERA, held opponents to a .190 batting average and struck out 116 batters in 96 2/3 innings in 19 starts between Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double A Jacksonville. Outside of a minor jump in ERA (2.02 in Jupiter versus 2.56 in Jacksonville), Cabrera’s splits stayed pretty consistent after his promotion.
It also fueled Cabrera’s drive to keep inching closer to that long-awaited call-up that he keeps inching closer toward.
“Just keep working on the same plan that I’ve been working with,” said Cabrera, the Marlins’ No. 6 overall prospect and the highest-ranked prospect who was part of the organization before the Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter organization took over. “Just need to keep getting better. Keep working hard.”
And keep perfecting his pitches that, with proper command, can be lethal on the mound. His four-seam fastball comfortably sits between 93-97 mph. His changeup touches the low 90’s. His slider generally stays in the mid-80’s.
He also had the luxury of playing and competing with a handful of the Marlins’ top pitching prospects.
In addition to Sanchez and Cabrera, the Jacksonville rotation to close out the season included Braxton Garrett (No. 7 in the Marlins organization), Trevor Rogers (No. 8) and Jorge Guzman (No. 16).
“It’s just a great experience sharing this time with them,” Cabrera said. “We hang out off the field. We hang out on the field. It’s just like a brotherhood that we have. I feel grateful.”
And soon enough, they might be pitching together at Marlins Park.
More coaching news
Don Mattingly’s coaching staff now has a fourth vacancy.
Fredi Gonzalez, the onetime Marlins manager who has been Mattingly’s third base coach for the past three years, has decided to pursue other options.
He joins bench coach Tim Wallach, bullpen coach Dean Treanor and catchers coach Brian Schneider in the group of Marlins coaches who will not be on staff in 2020.