2018 finish: 68-93, Fifth in AL East
SI's 2019 prediction: 59-103, Fifth in NL East
Key additions: RP Sergio Romo, INF Neil Walker, OF Curtis Granderson
Key departures: C J.T. Realmuto, SP Dan Straily
1. LF Curtis Granderson
2. 3B Brian Anderson
3. 1B Neil Walker
4. 2B Starlin Castro
5. RF Garrett Cooper
6. CF Lewis Brinson
7. SS J.T. Riddle
8. C Jorge Alfaro
OF Austin Dean
INF Martin Prado
INF Miguel Rojas
C Chad Wallach
RHP Jose Ureña
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Trevor Richards
RHP Pablo Lopez
RHP Drew Steckenrider (closer)
RHP Sergio Romo
LHP Adam Conley
RHP Tayron Guerrero
RHP Jarlin Garcia
RHP Riley Ferrell
RHP Tyler Kinley
RHP Austin Brice
Movin’ On Up! Brian Anderson’s fourth-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting likely elicited a lot of confused looks from folks outside south Florida, but his place there was legit. The 25-year-old hit a solid .273/.357/.400 with a 115 OPS+ and 3.9 bWAR while bouncing between third base and rightfield and makes lots of loud contact. If he can cut down on the strikeouts and improve against breaking balls, even better could be in the offing for 2019.
Sell! Lewis Brinson would probably like to forget his rookie season. The biggest piece acquired in exchange for Christian Yelich, the 24-year-old flat-out stunk in Miami, hitting a putrid .199/.240/.338 with 120 strikeouts in 406 plate appearances. Despite tons of tools as a former first-round pick, he showed close to zero plate discipline or ability to handle anything but a fastball, hitting .136 against breaking balls and .171 on offspeed pitches. There’s plenty of time for Brinson to grow and develop, and the rebuilding Marlins will almost certainly be patient. Plus, he’s swift as a deer and an excellent defender in centerfield. It’s hard to feel good about his potential at the plate, though, after such a dismal start.
Appreciate This Man! Curtis Granderson isn’t just a capable lefty bat in the twilight of his career, he’s also one of the game’s nicest and most genuine people—a true good guy worth rooting for. The 38-year-old veteran of 15 MLB seasons will almost certainly be a positive presence and mentor figure in a young clubhouse, and come July, he’ll hopefully be dealt to a contender in need of some bench help so he can finally get that long-sough World Series ring.
Over/Under: 63.5 Pity the Marlins, stuck in what will likely be baseball’s toughest division amid Year 2 of their indefinite rebuild. There’s a fair amount of young talent in Miami now, but this team is bound for the basement and 100 losses. UNDER
MLB.TV Rating: 3.2 Eventually, when the fruits of Miami’s improved farm system arrive, this team will be watchable again (or for as long as ownership keeps those players before trading them away). But there’s close to zero on the current major league roster worth your time. Fans in Florida are better off spending their hard-earned money on the MiLB.TV package than tuning into the 2019 Marlins.
Keep an Eye Out For…:Sixto Sanchez is the new headliner of the Marlins’ system after being acquired from Philadelphia along with catcher Jorge Alfaro in exchange for Realmuto. Not yet 21, the Dominican righty is slight for a power pitcher at 6 feet and 185 pounds, but he pumps in gas with a fastball that sits at 96 mph and touches triple digits. The other notable arm down on the farm is fellow hard-thrower Sandy Alcantara, who came over in last winter’s Marcell Ozuna deal. Most of Miami’s best prospects are imports: Isan Diaz and Monte Harrison were part of the Yelich trade, and top outfielder Victor Victor Mesa was signed out of Cuba for a small fortune last October. You may see a couple of those names filter up to the majors at some point late in the year, but more likely is 2020 and beyond.
A rival scout analyzes the 2019 Miami Marlins
What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019?
How many games are they going to win? They’re trying to figure out which direction they want to go. Where are they going to get the pitching from? Their starters, you have guys like Wei-Yin Chen coming back from injuries and young kids like Sandy Alcántara and Pablo Lopez. It’s going to be a young staff, so the big question is if they can continue to develop the young starters.
Who is the most overrated player on the team?
It would have to be Lewis Brinson because he hasn’t done anything. He’s made some changes this spring, and I know they’re hoping that those changes carry over into the year. He looks better for sure, but it is spring training so it’s tough to evaluate especially when a lot of guys hit well in the spring. He’s figuring out how to get himself in better counts and get better pitches to hit instead of just swinging at everything.
Who is the most underrated player on the team?
Brian Anderson doesn’t get enough credit. He had a pretty decent season last year, and I just think he’s going to continue to get better. He could’ve been the best third base option for the Red Sox last year.
I also think Neil Walker is going to do a good job to help solidify the club with veteran leadership and maturity. I think his arrow’s pointing down, but on that club guys can learn from him.
What young player(s) is/are on the cusp of stardom?
They’ve put a lot of money into Víctor Víctor, but Monte Harrison is a guy with a ton of tools but he just hasn’t put it together yet. With the right coach and the right timing, one of their young players can turn the corner — and they’re hoping it’s Brinson because they gave up Yelich to get him.
What young player(s) is/are the biggest bust candidate(s)?
It’s got to be Brinson right now, unless he turns it on. When he puts the ball in play, he brings you some tools, but you’ve gotta put it together. You can’t live on hype.
Who gets the most out of his talent?
Miguel Rojas. He’s an under-the-table guy who just goes out and plays. You put him at short, he does a good job, put him at third, second, he’s always figured it out.”
Who gets the least out of his talent?
I thought Magneuris Sierra had a chance to be a real special type of hitter and player, but he just hasn’t done it. He can’t utilize his speed or any of his tools. He’s only 22, but so far he hasn’t done it. The other one could be Harrison, but I think he’s still learning how to play.
Who has the nastiest stuff on the team?
Probably Alcantara. He’s long, lanky with an above-average fastball and a good feel for his slider. He’s got just enough erratic command where he can scare you when you step in the box and he’s got an aggressive attitude. The other kid would be Pablo López. I’ve only seen him once, but that’s a live, live arm.
Who has the best baseball instincts/IQ?
His status is kind of going downhill a little bit, but it’s Martín Prado for me. I don’t know how he’s going to do this year with his injuries and everything else,but as far as overall game instincts, it’s him. He always seems to do the right things when you have to do the right things.
Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop?
There’s not really a jaw-dropping guy. But Harrison’s fun to watch. Without a gameplan, if he just stands there and you say ‘hit the ball out of the ballpark,’ he’s got it. He’s got the same kind of build as Matt Kemp.
Name two guys on this team that you would immediately trade for.
I’d probably say Alcantara and maybe José Ureña, if he could ever put it together.
Who do you want at-bat or on the mound in a season-defining moment?
Prado, as long as he’s healthy. And maybe I’m thinking of the Prado from a couple years ago, but that’s who has always scared me. He’s always going to put the ball in play, and he’ll get that run in. Pitching, golly, that staff, I can’t put anybody out there right now.”
Who don’t you want in that situation?
If you base it on last year, you didn’t want Brinson up, not with all the strikeouts. One of every three at bats, he’s punching out.
Which under-the-radar prospect/non-roster invitee could make a splash this season?
Pablo Lopez is the one who could surprise some people and maybe get in the rotation and have some success. Trevor Richards is another one, but I don’t know how under-the-radar he really is. I think they penciled him in as the three starter.”
Is the current manager one that you would hire to run your club?
Yes .I think he’d do a good job with a veteran club and he understands how to run the game.
What is the ceiling for the team this year? What about the next three years?
They can’t get out of fifth and I don’t really see it in the next three years. I don’t see it in the farm system, I don’t see it in some of the players they’ve got coming in. I just don’t see it. For three or four years, their higher draft picks didn’t really hit or they’ve been hurt, so that makes it tough.
Emptying the notebook:
I actually like Starlin Castro. That being said, I think he’s going to go out and produce and warrant a trade where if there’s injuries somewhere in the league, somebody’s going to go get him in the last year of his deal. He could still do some damage. … Dan Straily has lost a bit of his stuff. He raises up on the sinker little and you can hit it. He’s pitching more now. He’s stuff is not as crisp, but it’s effective because he’s doing what you have to do, he’s learned how to pitch. … I would say there’s a good chance they’re the worst team in the league. San Diego is a little bit better just now and the Reds have improved, so there is a chance that they’re the worst.”