Miami Marlins’ Top 5 Prospects Post-Trade Deadlineby Andersen Pickard August 23, 2021 1 comment
The Miami Marlins find themselves in a difficult position as the 2021 regular season nears a close. After making the postseason and looking like a true up-and-coming threat last year, the club is now dead last in the National League East. Fortunately for the Marlins, the team’s pitching-heavy pipeline welcomed a top bat to the mix during this summer’s MLB Draft.
Let’s take another look at the current state of Miami’s farm system.
Make sure to check out all of our Updated Prospect Articles.
1. Kahlil Watson, Shortstop
As the first round of the 2021 draft carried on, Watson was the main storyline on people’s minds. He fell much further than expected before Miami finally scooped him up at No. 16 overall. In Watson, the Marlins have found a truly talented and balanced player who plays with aggressiveness, physicality, and passion. The left-handed hitter has great bat speed, the potential for tremendous power, speed on the basepaths, above-average defense, eye-catching range and explosiveness, and a strong arm. It is truly perplexing how he fell so far in the draft.
Just 18 years old, Watson certainly won’t be rushed to the majors. With that said, though, he might put on such a fantastic show in the minors that the Marlins have no choice but to call him up. I’m banking on Watson making his debut sooner rather than later.
2. Max Meyer, Starting Pitcher
The third overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Meyer boasts an incredible one-two punch with his fastball and slider. The heater registers in the mid-90s but has hit triple-digits before. Meanwhile, the breaking ball sits in the mid-90s and eludes batters while serving as a nasty complement to the fastball. Meyer has incredible control of his slider, and it is clearly his best offering. He also employs a changeup as his tertiary selection; this pitch hasn’t seen tremendous usage but could gain effectiveness with more development.
All in all, Meyer has translated nicely to pro ball. Through 17 starts at Double-A this year, the right-hander is 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and .216 OBA in addition to 3.62 BB/9 and 9.62 K/9. His control is merely average, and this will likely be the biggest storyline to monitor with Meyer as he tracks through the minor-league ranks. Still, he has shown that he possesses the makings of a hard-throwing starter with effective stuff.
3. Edward Cabrera, Starting Pitcher
Cabrera, who checks in at 6-foot-5, inked a $100,000 deal with Miami back in 2015. He has trekked through the minors ever since and has split 2021 between Single-, Double-, and Triple-A. Through 13 total starts this year, he is 3-4 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and .205 OBA. Cabrera has also shone in terms of control, logging a 3.67 BB/9 rate and highly impressive 13.50 K/9 clip. The right-hander’s best offering is his fastball, which checks in around the mid-90s but has touched triple-digits. He also boasts a nice breaking ball in his slider, which hits the mid-80s, as well as a deceiving changeup that benefits from the velocity juxtaposition between it and the heater.
Cabrera has just been called up the majors after just 29.1 innings at Triple-A. As of publication, he has yet to make his debut. Still, it’s safe to say that the Marlins are very excited about what he has to offer.
4. JJ Bleday, Outfielder
Bleday was the No. 4 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. The 23-year-old outfielder has posted a .201/.319/.369 slash line with 11 homers, 43 RBI, 58 walks, 86 strikeouts, and three stolen bases at Double-A this season. While his hitting metrics are subpar, Bleday has reached base via the walk at a solid clip. With that in mind, defense is definitely his top trait. Capable of playing all three outfield roles, the 23-year-old has a great glove and has also worked on his explosiveness and range. There is some concern that his offense might not correct itself before he reaches the majors, but there is plenty of time for that myth to prove untrue. For now, it’s reasonable to view Bleday as an annual .275 hitter with modest power production and a stellar glove in right field.
Looking ahead, Bleday will need to prove himself either at Double-A or in Spring Training before he receives a promotion. Even then, he will still be in Triple-A, putting him one rung below the majors. However, if he can begin to put the ball in play and log base hits at a more frequent rate, he should have no trouble progressing through the minors.
5. Jake Eder, Starting Pitcher
Currently 22 years old, Eder found his way to the Marlins in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He represents even more youth pitching atop the Miami farm system. Through 15 starts at Double-A this year, Eder has gone 3-5 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and .169 OBA. He has evidently managed to limit walks and hits while even restricting balls in play. He has also amassed solid BB/9 (3.41) and K/9 (12.49) clips. The Vanderbilt product has a knack for striking out batters using a solid three-pitch mix. His top offering is a mid-90s fastball, which is nicely accompanied by a low-80s slider with good movement, as well as a low-80s changeup.
Going forward, the Marlins will look for Eder to improve his secondary pitches while maintaining such impressive control. If he can keep striking out batters at such a high rate, he will find his way onto the MLB roster. For now, though, questions surround just how fast he can climb the minor-league ranks. I keep going back and forth on 2022 or 2023 for his debut. In the end, considering the Marlins’ pitching depth and the fact that Eder is still in his first pro season, I’ll settle on 2023.
What Does the Future Hold?
In case you did not notice, there is a common theme here. Pitching development is the name of the game for the Marlins, who continue to address the position over and over again through the draft and trades. This puts Miami in a position to stockpile pitching to form an elite rotation, ship away some pitching prospects to fill other areas of need, or even both.
With that said, you can’t win by just developing pitchers. This is why the selection of Watson will prove to be monumentally important. The first-round pick provides Miami with an athletic playmaker who has shown his talent in all facets of the game. He headlines the current Marlins pipeline, and it could be that way for quite some time.
Follow Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard
Main Image Credit: