What are the Marlins getting in the pitching prospects acquired in five trades this offseason?
Here’s what Marlins people and evaluators are saying about them:
▪ Right-hander Jorge Guzman, acquired in the Giancarlo Stanton trade with the Yankees: Was 5-3 with a 2.30 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings at Single A Staten Island. Will open the season in the minors.
American League scout: “One of the best arms, velocity wise, I have seen in a lot of years. Projects as a No. 2 starter to me, maybe even a No. 1 and I could also see him being a top-notch closer. Throws a curve that’s more of a slider with good velocity and bite on it. Change-up is inconsistent because of age; that will be an above average pitch.”
ESPN’s Keith Law: “Throws hard, 98-100 mph even as a starter, with fringy to below-average everything else and no deception. He turns 22 in January and has yet to pitch in full-season ball.”
Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen: “If Marlins player development can improve his changeup, or develop a different third pitch, his ceiling as a rotation piece is quite high.” Also believes he could be “an elite” reliever.
Sirius XM’s Jim Bowden: “Freakish arm strength. Highest fastball average velocity in all of professional baseball (majors or minors) plus slider, average changeup.”
Marlins executive Gary Denbo: “No other starter in baseball has an average fastball as high as Jorge Guzman [99 mph], not only this year but I think as far back as they have been measuring it. So it’s obvious he has a great arm. He has an ability to strike out hitters, which I value.”
▪ Right-hander Nick Neidert, acquired in Dee Gordon trade with Seattle: Mariners’ second-round pick in 2015 was 11-6, 3.45 ERA at Single A and Double A, with 122 strikeouts but also 128 hits allowed in 127 2/3 innings. Likely to start the season in the minors.
Bowden: “Nick Neidert has great pitch ability. Advanced feel to pitch for 21 years old.”
ESPN’s Law: “He’s a command guy with an average fastball and limited ceiling, profiling as a No. 4 starter at best with a fair chance he’s just an up-and-down starter, given his average fastball and lack of a swing-and-miss pitch.”
Denbo: “We believe he has every chance in the future to join our starting rotation. Only 20 years old. He’s got four pitches, has the ability to command his fastball. His changeup is plus. We like the movement he has on the fastball because it’s different than what you normally see. He’s got the deception, which makes it very difficult for batters to pick up the ball. There are a lot of qualities there that make us believe he can help us with our starting rotation in Miami.”
▪ Right-hander Robert Dugger, acquired in Gordon trade with Seattle: Was 6-6, with a 2.75 ERA for two Class A teams last season. Had 116 strikeouts, allowed 104 hits, in 117 2/3 innings. Likely at least a year away.
Bowden: “A sleeper. Metrically graded above average in multiple areas.”
ESPN’s Law: “A solid organizational arm with control rather than stuff. He did perform well after moving to the rotation in the spring, but is much more likely to reach the majors as a reliever if at all.”
▪ Right-hander Sandy Alcantara, acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade with St. Louis: The 22-year-old was 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 25 games at Double A Springfield, with 125 hits allowed and 106 strikeouts in 125 1/3 innings. Had a 4.32 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings with St. Louis. Wouldn’t be surprising if he’s in the Marlins’ rotation at some point this year.
Law: “Was among the Cardinals’ best pitching prospects, but isn’t yet ready for a major-league rotation spot, promising huge upside but with some bullpen risk. He has been clocked throwing 95-100 mph as a starter and shows four pitches, barely using a changeup but flashing both a hard upper-80s slider that touches 90 and a sharp but inconsistent curveball at 79-84 mph. He’s listed at 6-5 and probably still under 200 pounds, although he still has some room to fill out.
“For as hard as Alcantara throws, he gives up a lot of hard contact, and he’s going to have to develop his changeup more and also get at least one breaking ball to above-average to be able to start. But he can do all of that, showing enough already to put that within the realm of possibility. Alcantara could end up a No. 2 starter, but there’s legitimate risk he never gets close to that, ending up as an Edwin Jackson sort of back-end starter, or perhaps going to the bullpen if he can’t miss enough bats as a starter.”
Denbo: “I think he is close. You can probably say that every one of the pitchers that we acquired need to work on their fastball command to ensure that they are able to locate fastballs where major league hitters aren’t going to be able to impact them. You can say the same about Sandy. That’s our No. 1 objective with all of our pitchers to ensure they have good control of their fastball.”
▪ Right hander Jordan Yamamoto, acquired in the Christian Yelich trade with Milwaukee. Was 9-4, with a 2.51 ERA in advanced A ball last season, allowing a .223 average. Had 113 strikeouts in 110 innings. Could be a year or two away.
Law: “Yamamoto is a command and control right-hander who pitched very well in high-A last year at 21, but at just 6 feet tall he doesn’t get any plane on his fastball, making him fly ball and potentially homer-prone. He comes from a lower slot that might pose platoon issues at higher levels, although that was not an issue in 2017.”
Longenhagen: “He’s a little undersized, has a low three-quarters arm slot, and pitches at 89-92 with his fastball, occasionally touching 94. His fastball gets tagged when Yamamoto doesn’t get it up in the upper third of the zone and above, and he shows the ball to left-handed hitters pretty early, concerning some about his ability to start. … His changeup is below average, as is his command. I have Yamamoto projected in relief, where I think his fastball will tick up a bit, though some feel he’s got a shot to pitch at the back of a rotation.”
▪ Right-hander Zac Gallen, acquired in the Ozuna trade with St. Louis: The third-round pick out of North Carolina in 2016 was 10-8 with a 2.93 ERA in Single, Double and Triple A combined last season. Could be on the Marlins at some point this season.
Law: “Lacks an out pitch and is likely to end up in the pen or as a fifth or sixth starter.”
Denbo: “A young starting pitching candidate we think he is going to help in our rotation. We like his delivery. He’s got all of the tools of a super starting pitcher in the major leagues. Velocity is plus, got a four pitch mix, has got three above average pitches. He’s able to locate his fastball effectively. Zac’s a guy who repeats his delivery effectively. … That translates into excellent candidate to be a future starting pitcher in our rotation. We’re very excited to add him.”
▪ Left-hander Daniel Castano, acquired in the Ozuna trade with St. Louis: Was 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA in low-level A ball. The least regarded of the four prospects. Wasn’t ranked among Cardinals’ top 30 prospects. Could be years away.
Law: “Was a senior sign out of Baylor in 2016 [19th rounder] and has yet to reach full-season ball at age 23.”
▪ Left-hander Caleb Smith, acquired from the Yankees in a trade involving prospects. Was 9-1 with a 2.39 ERA in Triple A last season and had a 7.71 ERA in 18 2/3 innings for the Yankees. Candidate for the big-league rotation in spring training.
American League scout: “The stuff is there. Would have been taken in Rule 5 draft if he hadn’t been traded first.”
Denbo: “Had great success in Triple A with the Yankees last year and we think he’s going to be able to compete for a starting spot in the rotation here in 2018.”
Here’s my look from earlier this week on position players acquired in the trades.