A six-pack of Marlins notes on a Tuesday:
▪ Feedback on the players acquired by the Marlins on Tuesday for Brad Ziegler and Cameron Maybin:
Right hander Tommy Eveld, acquired from Arizona for Ziegler, was Arizona’s ninth round pick in 2016 out of Jesuit High in Tampa and the University of South Florida. He recently was promoted to Double A and he has 31 saves in 100 minor league games with a 1.96 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 119 innings.
He came to USF as a quarterback but sustained two torn ACLs and never played a down. He made his USF baseball debut as a redshirt sophomore after three seasons on the football team. Here’s an interesting story about him from minorleaguebaseball.com.
Bobby DeMuru of baseballcensus.com assessed him this way: “Tall, long, and lean; aged out beyond physical projection but could conceivably add some thickness through lower half still; good athleticism and sturdy build from football background, but lean and should fill out a bit more with age. Former quarterback at USF, turned to baseball full-time; decent run as a bullpen arm so far through the low minors for the Arizona Diamondbacks … High three-quarters release with good downhill plane on pitches thanks to arm action and height; life on all his stuff with sharp arm-side run back to fastball at times…. Looks like an uncomfortable at-bat for RHH late in games; attacks and doesn’t let up … Fastball 92-95 in my May look; paired it with an 85-90 slider, 79-82 curve, and 81-84 change; mostly went to fastball/slider combo, especially against RHH. Throws his slider very hard, nearly a cutter but with some tilt and depth; love it for a power look, tough to pick up spin and tunnels well with fastball until late, sharp break at the plate; maybe not enough break for a true wipeout pitch, but it’ll get off barrels … Tommy Eveld has late-inning potential; ceiling more in line with 7th/8th inning set-up work than closing, but he’s got the look and arsenal for a chance at high-leverage short relief one day soon.”
Meanwhile, outfielder Bryson Brigman – the player acquired from Seattle for Maybin – entered the year as Seattle’s No. 27 ranked prospect. He’s batting .304 with two homers, 38 RBI and 15 steals in 21 attempts in 98 games in high Class A Modesto.
Brigman, 23, was picked in the third round of the 2016 draft from the University of San Diego.
Per Baseball America, Brigman improved as a hitter dramatically this year – after hitting .235 last year - because “he went through a swing change,” general manager Jerry Dipoto told the publication. “He’s elevating the ball more. His exit velocity has greatly improved. He’s not so passive in the batter’s box. He’s more aggressive in his approach, which I think has been a positive for him.”
▪ Before departing, Ziegler offered reasons for why the franchise’s future is encouraging.
“There’s a lot of talent here already if they can keep the majority of this group intact,” he said. “So much of our identity was lost this season with the trades, but there’s an identity here [again]. And the young kids really go about their business quietly. There’s a great professionalism with them. They’re sponges [when you tell them something].”
The young pitching also gives him hope, with Trevor Richards, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez developing and others on the way. “There’s a lot of potential there with those three. You see flashes of excellence. Trevor has been really good his last few starts.”
And even beyond relievers Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley, Ziegler said that Tayron Guerrero “has more sheer talent than anyone in the pen because he throws 100 and because he can harness it and with the downward plain he throws at.”
▪ The way Richards has pitched recently - three earned runs allowed in his last 22 1/3 innings – has raised hope that perhaps he could be a longterm piece. We’ll see.
“He’s a guy that can get the ball down and away to a lefty and righty [and] if you can do that, you can limit damage,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s had a few ups and downs, been trending upward lately and it’s all about command. Down and away is something he can do and that really sets him up to be successful.”
Regardless of how long Jose Urena and Dan Straily are around, the Marlins essentially need at least five (preferably more, of course) of the following dozen-plus pitchers to become above-average major league starters for this rebuilding plan to progress as everyone would like:
Richards, Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Lopez, Jarlin Garcia, Elieser Hernandez and minor leaguers Ben Meyer (who was sent to the minors on Tuesday), Jorge Guzman, Nick Neidert, Jordan Yamamoto, Zach Gallen, and well-regarded draft picks Trevor Rogers, Ryan Lillie and Braxton Garrett. (I am not holding out much hope for Tyler Kolek, but Dillon Peters and Merandy Gonzalez shouldn’t yet be dismissed as possibilities, and there are other starting pitching prospects – on a lower tier - who could still develop).
▪ Smith, to this point, has shown the most at the major league level among those aforementioned arms, going 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA this season before his season ended with a July lat strain.
So have the Marlins concluded he’s a quality big-league starter or was the sample size too small this year?
“He showed us enough to say that this guy’s got a chance to be a quality big league pitcher,” Mattingly said. “He had some ups and downs, some games where he really opened your eyes and some games where he had trouble throwing the ball over. I think he showed us enough where this guy has quality stuff and he’s capable of getting good hitters out. His stuff tells you that. The more experience he gets, the better he will be.”
The more fascinating one of the 12 might be Guzman, who was acquired with infielders Starlin Castro and Jose Devers for Giancarlo Stanton. He’s throwing as hard as advertised (hitting 100 mph), with 73 strikeouts in 70 innings and a 3.21 ERA at Class A Jupiter. The bad news: He’s 0-7 because of poor run support.
▪ The Marlins are building some solid outfield depth in their system. Outfielder Tristan Pompey won the South Atlantic League player of the week award after hitting .524 with two homers and four RBI in just his third week in the league. The former University of Kentucky outfielder was selected in the third round, 89th overall, of this June’s draft.
▪ Mattingly’s assessment of Magneuris Sierra, who’s hitting .158 (3 for 19) since his recent promotion from Triple A:
“He’s got a little Kenny Lofton in there. He’s got some pop in his bat. The ball jumps off his bat. I think it’s a matter of getting him comfortable. I think this kid is going to hit. He’s got a nice swing. The ball comes off his bat. If he’s going to be here, he needs to play.”
Sierra had a great bunt in Saturday’s game and Mattingly wants him to develop that skill.
“When we came to spring, he wasn’t very good at it all,” Mattingly said. “Did a lot of work with [Juan Pierre]. It should be part of his game. He runs too good to not be able to do that. It’s something he needs to put in his bag of tracks.”