Marlins CEO Derek Jeter: We’re trying to build something that’s special
A six-pack of Miami Marlins notes on a Monday:
▪ During a media session on Monday, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter was measured but upbeat about the team’s recent draft — which was widely rated among the best in the baseball — and the state of the farm system.
“We were extremely happy with it,” Jeter said. “Now look, we have to develop these players and only time will tell. We were extremely happy with all of our picks. Now we’re in process of getting them signed and getting them into player development and out there on the field. Our process, of going through the draft, with our scouts and analytics, continues to get better and better.”
On the Marlins’ first-round pick, Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday, Jeter said: “I only saw one game and he was 5 for 5. I couldn’t have done much better. I told him everything was downhill from this point forward. He’s obviously a great player, had a great career, has continually gotten better year in and year out. You wish him luck in the College World Series but we hope to get him sooner rather than later.”
Asked about the Marlins drafting several polished college hitters, Jeter said: “You hope [that helps], but only time will tell. It wasn’t our game plan going in that we were going to do that. Our game plan was to take best available player. We’re fortunate because we got a lot of talent. We need to develop that.”
Jeter ending up watching several of the team’s draft picks before the draft. “You watch a lot of video leading up to the draft, but I wanted to see guys in person. I saw Nasim [Nunez] here at our workout. I saw our fifth pick, [Wright State outfielder Peyton] Burdick, here.”
How is the Marlins farm system compared to when he and Bruce Sherman closed on their purchase of the team in October 2017?
“I’d like to think it’s better,” Jeter said. “It’s subject to interpretation I guess; whoever wants to make those rankings. We have a great deal of pitching depth. We’ve added a lot of position players to our organization. We’re much deeper than when we took over the organization. But time will tell.
“You try to develop up the middle, catching, shortstop, center field, pitching. That’s how you build teams. If you’re a good shortstop, you can play anywhere.”
▪ On news that former Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic Sunday — he was in serious but stable condition — Jeter said: “Unbelievable. Found out when I got up [Monday morning]. First reaction was complete shock. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him. You look at my playing career, the rivalry we [the Yankees] had with Boston, David was one of the first names that comes to mind.
“Everyone knows what he was able to do on the field [but] the type of person he was off the field. Getting to know him off the field, what he did in the community in Boston..This is a guy beloved throughout sports in general. You just wish him a speedy recovery. It was a complete and utter shock.”
▪ A few players the Marlins have quietly added in the past week:
Miami signed Cuban left-handed pitcher Luis Gonzalez, a 19-year-old with a 92 mph fastball and above average breaking ball. He’s a decent but not elite prospect.
The Marlins are planning at least three more Latin American signings this summer and are on the lookout to acquire more international signing money. Gonzalez was signed using remaining money from this past year’s allocation; that money can be used until mid-June.
The Marlins also signed utiltyman Yangervis Solarte to a minor-league deal. Solarte played 28 games with the Giants this season, hitting .205 in 73 at-bats.
He’s a career .258 hitter with 75 homers and 307 RBI in 670 big-league games. He has has played shortstop, second base, third base and the outfield in his career. He will report to extended spring training in Jupiter and eventually join Triple A New Orleans.
Meanwhile, Miami, bereft of offensively skilled catchers in their minor-league system, acquired Giants minor-leaguer Tyler Heineman for cash. He’s hitting .321 in Triple A and is a .280 career hitter with 30 homers and 225 RBI in eight minor league seasons.
A former eighth-round draft choice in 2012 out of UCLA, Heineman left Giants teammates spellbound in spring training with a bunch of card tricks.
Both Heineman and Solarte were organizational depth signings, Michael Hill said.
▪ Here was ESPN analyst Keith Law’s assessment of the Marlins draft:
“Miami took Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday (1), who has exceptional hand strength for all-fields power even with a decent-sized hitch in his swing, along with a good eye at the plate and what should be above-average defense in either outfield corner. Outfielder Kam Misner (1A) has the tools to be a top-10 pick but had a really rough go in the SEC after a big start in nonconference play, hitting .222/.353/.315 in conference with a nearly 30% strikeout rate. He is a potential difference-maker with his power/speed combination, but is he another Jeren Kendall?
“The Marlins took plus defensive shortstop Nasim Nunez (2) with their second-round pick. Nunez is undersized but is at least a grade-60 defender at short, maybe more, and has begun switch-hitting in the last year to try to take more advantage of his plus speed. The best-case scenario for him at the plate is a high-OBP leadoff hitter, as he projects to 40 power at most. Wright State center fielder Peyton Burdick (3) has plus raw power, but he’s 22, has had Tommy John surgery, and his hit tool is lacking; he might be a money-saver.
“N.C. State first baseman Evan Edwards (4) is a senior, limited to first base, probably another well below-slot guy, but he’s a plus defender at first with real power, so better than your typical senior sign. Evan Fitterer (5) was just off my top 100, a high school right-hander throwing up to 95 mph with good feel to pitch; he’s probably the over-slot guy they wanted after going under with the previous two picks. They went with college seniors in rounds 6 through 10, so unless they’re going over for someone like Chris Mokma (12), a projectable right-hander from a Michigan high school, this seems a little light.”
▪ One more example of how difficult it is to project players: When the Marlins traded David Phelps to Seattle two years ago, the prospect (of the four acquired) that everyone around the Marlins were most excited about was outfielder Brayan Hernandez. Two years later, he’s hitting .138 in A ball. Acquiring Pablo Lopez in that deal made the trade a win.
▪ Quick stuff: The third piece of the J.T. Realmuto trade — pitcher Will Stewart — is struggling in Jupiter after a good start. He’s now 1-5 with a 6.15 ERA. But Jorge Alfaro has played well for Miami, and the top prospect acquired from Philadelphia in that trade — right-hander Sixto Sanchez — has flashed for Jacksonville (1-1, 3.80). ...
Because he’s already somewhat advanced, Bleday might start at Class A Clinton instead of a short-season rookie league, but Michael Hill said Monday that decision hasn’t been made...
Our Jordan McPherson will have a story later on Nunez, who was at Marlins Park today. He seemed like a mature, grounded, well-spoken young man, though his mother joked he still has the (untidy) room of an 18-year-old....
So far, the Marlins’ best performer from the 2018 draft might be fifth-rounder Chris Vallimont, who’s 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA at Clinton. He’s holding batters to a .189 average….
Jorge Guzman still has won only one game since the Marlins acquired him a year-and-a-half ago in the Giancarlo Stanton. trade He’s 1-6 with a 4.01 ERA at Jacksonville in 11 starts. He has allowed 47 hits in 60 2/3 innings but is walking too many batter (33). And his strikeout total (54) isn’t overwhelming for a pitcher who reaches 100 mph. But the Marlins have said he’s throwing well....
Shortstop Jose Devers, also acquired in that trade, is hitting .325 at Jupiter but has been sidelined since May 20 with an forearm strain. And Stanton hasn’t played for the Yankees since March 30 because of an injury.