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Minor League Keeper Thoughts: Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies

Well, we've basically reached the end, which is good as the season started earlier this morning in Japan. The last two teams are up today, and there will be a short post on Friday with a few of the prospects who were traded after their new team was reviewed and prior to their previous team was reviewed. You can find the links to the previous posts below:

AL West: Los Angeles Angels | Oakland | Seattle | Texas

AL Central: Chicago White Sox | Cleveland | Detroit | Kansas City | Minnesota

AL East: Baltimore | Boston | New York Yankees | Tampa Bay | Toronto

NL East: Atlanta | Miami | New York | Philadelphia | Washington

NL Central: Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati | Houston | Milwaukee | Pittsburgh | St. Louis

NL West: Arizona | Colorado | Los Angeles | San Diego | San Francisco

Prospects Traded Post-Review Of New Team (3/30)

2011 Graduates

Miami: Michael Dunn, Bryan Petersen

Philadelphia: Domonic Brown


Miami: The new-look Marlins have been known to go in cycles when it comes to their farm system. In the past few years they have graduated a number of players to the Major Leagues, including Logan Morrison, and Gaby Sanchez. Generally, the team is fairly young, which is good because there isn't a ton of help coming at the moment from the farm system. They do have a pair of interesting outfield prospects (one more interesting than the other obviously), but other than that they have some potentially interesting pieces. They just may not be interesting to other teams if they try to trade them.

Philadelphia: The Phillies continue their push for another division title this season, and basically emptied out much of the farm system last year to help them then. The Hunter Pence trade sent two of their top prospects (Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton) away, and the system is pretty barren after that. While no longer a rookie, the team has also continued to hinder the development of OF prospect Domonic Brown as he goes between AAA and the Majors. Overall, this is a system which will need restocking within the next three seasons, and it could get ugly there quickly as current players start to age.

Ready in 2012

Matt Dominguez (MIA)

Dominguez was supposed to be down in AAA for part of the year in 2011, as he was viewed as the heir apparent in Miami for the starting 3B job. At AA in 2010, he hit .256 with 14 home runs and 81 RBI. However, an early injury last year kind of derailed his season, as he only played in a total of 95 games across 3 levels. An excellent defender, the questions surrounding Dominguez have revolved primarily around his performance at the plate:

Dominguez still struggles with pitch recognition and needs to be more selective. He doesn't show much pop, a skill that is fairly important for a first-division starting third baseman.

Having Hanley Ramirez switch to the position this season probably didn't do Dominguez any favors either, as he's now blocked for the foreseeable future. If he were to get full time at bats, I could see a .250 average with between 15 and 20 home runs. As of right now though, he seems like he will more likely be a trade candidate, and could be interesting for a number of teams.

Could Be Ready by 2014

Christian Yelich (MIA)

Yelich was the Marlins' top draft pick in the 2010 draft, and did manage to get into 12 games that season. The Marlins sent him back to the Sally League for the 2011 season, and really put together a great season. In 122 games there, he hit .312 with 15 home runs, 77 RBI and 32 stolen bases while playing some center field and mostly left field. There had been some concerns about Yelich long-term out of the draft, as he was viewed primarily as a first base prospect. He appears to have taken well to the outfield, but the concerns still remain:

There are questions to answer as he moves up the ladder, particularly since he'll be moving to more hostile environments. He either needs to keep up his surprising power/speed outburst, or he'll need to prove he can stick in center field; if he can't, he might fall into the Ryan Sweeney career path.

I will be extremely interested to see whether or not Yelich can a) repeat his performance at the plate and show both power and speed and b) play center field well enough to potentially stick there long term. He seems likely to start the season in High-A, and I would guess that he will likely be there for most of the season. If the offense continues, we could be looking at a 20 HR/20 SB outfielder with a solid batting average.

Trevor May (PHI)

May was sent back to the Florida State League for the 2011 season, and showed the potential for an excellent strikeout starting pitcher. He finished the season with 208 strikeouts in just 151+ innings as a 21 year old there, but it didn't come without some command issues (67 walks, good for a 4 BB/9 rate). The scouting reports that I have read about May seem to indicate that he will likely be valuable to the Phillies regardless of the role he ends up in, but that he will be more likely as of now to be a starting pitcher. From Thomas Belmont of Baseball Instinct:

I think, at this point, Trevor May has the upside of a #2 starter if his pitches all max out leaving him with two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball and an above average changeup. It's more likely that he slots in as a #3 starter with high K rates.

Overall, I absolutely love seeing the strikeout rate, but I am concerned that the walks will get him into more trouble as he climbs the ladder. He will likely start the season in AA, and it will be interesting to see if leaving a pitchers' league like the Florida State League will have any impact on his performance in 2012.The Phillies don't really have a need to rush him to the Majors, so I could see him getting a full season at both AA and AAA before making his MLB debut. Once he is there I could see over a strikeout per inning, but with an elevated WHIP and potentially ERA as well.

Jesse Biddle (PHI)

Another good young pitcher in the lower levels of the minors, Biddle pitched in low-A Lakewood in 2011 at the age of 19, and posted a very solid 124 strikeouts in 133 innings. The walk totals there weren't exactly confidence building (66 total), but despite those numbers his FIP for the season actually leveled out at 3.38. A lefty out of a Pennsylvania high school, Biddle fits the mold of a "projectable" starting pitcher. From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:

Biddle is a big, physical southpaw who looks like a future star on the right day. His fastball can sit in the low-90s with movement, and he'll flash a plus curveball and advanced changeup for his age. He improved considerably throughout the year and matured as a pitcher, and began to sequence better and take advantage of weaknesses.

To me, he remains a very raw pitching prospect, but one who could really jump up prospect rankings with a solid season in the Florida State League this year at age 20. I think it's a bit hard to project how he would turn out at this point given the mismatch of his potential to the performance thus far, but another year should give us a much better idea of his potential.

Last Year's Top Draft Picks:

Jose Fernandez (MIA) - A right handed pitcher drafted out of a Florida high school, Fernandez has definitely been through a lot already despite his young age. From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:

Fernandez spent 15 days in a Cuban jail at the age of 14 when caught trying to defect. His mother was thrown from the boat trying to escape Cuban waters and he jumped in to save her.

As a result, Goldstein mentions that his makeup is excellent, and has the potential to be a #3 starter with the upside of a #2 for the Marlins. He's likely at least 4-5 years away, but I think he will finish the season at Low-A if he shows a good performance in extended spring training.

Larry Greene Jr (PHI) - Greene was the 39th overall pick last season, and the reports I have been reading seem to indicate that he is a power hitter, but that he may not do a ton else outside of that. Greene was a high school pick last year, so I'll be interested to see where the Phillies decide to send him to start his year. Realistically, I have to imagine he will start in extended spring training, and eventually could see an assignment in either rookie ball or a short-season league.

Others to Watch:

Marcell Ozuna (MIA) - Ozuna put together some very solid numbers last year in the Sally League, hitting .266 with 23 home runs, 71 runs batted in, and 17 stolen bases. He seems like he could be an interesting prospect for deep dynasty leagues, even if he doesn't improve on his batting average as he progresses through the minors. He'll likely be in High-A to start the 2012 season, and I'll be watching to see if he can maintain the speed he showed last year.

Freddy Galvis (PHI) - Galvis will likely be the starting second baseman for the Phillies now that we know Chase Utley will miss the start of the season due to a knee injury, and he could be a much more valuable player to his team than to fantasy owners. Galvis stole 23 bases last year between AA and AAA, but he was also caught 13 times. I would say that based on his performance to date, he is an NL-only play, and really only if you're looking for someone who will get at bats and not completely destroy you in batting avreage.

Kyle Skipworth (MIA) - Talk about a bust of a prospect as of right now. The Marlins took Skipworth with the 6th overall pick in the 2008 draft, ahead of players like Justin Smoak, Jemile Weeks, Yonder Alonso, and Brett Lawrie. While all of that group were not high school draftees, Skipworth doesn't appear to be even remotely close to being able to contribute in the Majors. He played in AA last year at the age of 21, which while still a bit young for the level, did not perform even remotely up to the par that was hoped for. After hitting .207 with 11 home runs and also only throwing out 23% of base stealers, he seems likely to repeat AA at least to start the season, and could be there all year if he doesn't show improvement on one side of the game.