Top 10 Prospects: The Florida Marlins by Marc Hulet November 30, 2010 The Florida Marlins 2010 MLB Record: 80-82 (3rd in the NL East) Minor League Power Ranking: 25th (out of 30) Click for: Last Year’s Top 10 Prospect List The Prospects 1. Matt Dominguez, 3B Acquired: 2007 1st round (California HS) Pro Experience: 4 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: AA Opening Day Age: 21 Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5 Notes: Dominguez has long been known for being a defensive player first and an offensive player second. The former No. 1 draft pick did nothing to take away from that notion in 2010, as he posted a .337 wOBA in double-A at the age of 20. His ISO rate of .158, accumulated between 2009-2010, goes to show that he currently projects to have average-at-best power for the hot corner. With that said, his 34 doubles in 2010 suggest he could develop more over-the-fence power down the line. Dominguez is not gifted with plus bat speed. He takes only a slight stride when batting and he shows a minor upper cut in his swing at times. Dominguez has a good arm at third base and solid hands, but some have questioned his range. He could appear in the Majors in 2011, but look for him to be ready for full-time duty in 2012. 2. Chad James, LHP Acquired: 2009 1st round (Oklahoma HS) Pro Experience: 1 season 2010 MiLB Level: A Opening Day Age:20 Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0 Notes: James was a late signee in 2009 so he didn’t make his pro debut until ’10 at low-A ball. Poor control plagued the southpaw last season but his 3.54 FIP is significantly better than his ugly 5.12 ERA. James’ walk rate of 5.12 BB/9 was far too high but he showed the ability to miss some bats with a strikeout rate of 8.27 K/9. Despite his pedigree, James is more of a No. 3 starter than a true ace, although he is just 19 and has time to develop further. He does a nice job of staying tall in his delivery and he takes a big stride- he could do a better job of staying back at times. I’m not overly enamored with his arm action as there’s a bit of effort in it that might be putting some strain on his elbow. His repertoire includes a low-90s fastball, a promising changeup, and a developing curveball. 3. Kyle Skipworth, C Acquired: 2008 1st round (California HS) Pro Experience: 3 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: A/AA Opening Day Age: 21 Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0 Notes: Skipworth made some strides in 2010 but it’s not saying that much when you consider he entered the year with a .208 career average in two pro seasons. He tired in the second half of the season and his triple-slash line dipped to .249/.312/.426 in 397 at-bats in high-A. His 17 homers (.176 ISO) were a nice surprise. Skipworth showed good power in the Arizona Fall League with three homers and four doubles in 15 games. The catcher is going to have to be more patient at the plate and improve his pitch recognition if he’s going to be an average offensive catcher in the Majors; the strikeout rate was far too high at 33.2 K%. At the plate, the former No. 1 pick shows a loopy swing and he needs to keep the bat through the strike zone for a longer period of time to improve his contact rates. He also looks unbalanced at the plate and may need to spread out a bit. He has a good defensive reputation behind the plate but I’ve seen him be slow with his transfers from glove to hand while attempting to throw out base runners. 4. Christian Yelich, OF/1B Acquired: 2010 1st round (California HS) Pro Experience: 1 season 2010 MiLB Level: R/A Opening Day Age: 19 Estimated Peak WAR: 4.0 Notes: Yelich was a bit of a surprise as the 23rd overall pick in the 2010 draft (especially for a club with two solid first base prospects already in the minors), as a first baseman with modest power for the positions. The club fell in love with his swing, though, and the price was right. When I saw Yelich his bat speed looked questionable, but he may have been a little tired at the end of a long baseball season. I’d recommend moving his hands back a bit to speed up his load and help him avoid getting beaten by good fastballs. Yelich was also letting his hips fly open a little too early, leaving him susceptible to pitches on the outer half. With some adjustments, he projects to be a .280-.300 hitter. Defensively, he doesn’t have great foot work around the bag but he does have a quick glove. He spent his pro debut in left field, where his average speed helps him compensate for a below-average arm. 5. Brad Hand, LHP Acquired: 2008 2nd round (Minnesota HS) Pro Experience: 3 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA Opening Day Age: 21 Estimated Peak WAR: 3.5 Notes: Hand took a step forward in 2010, thanks to improved control; he posted a walk rate of 3.14 BB/9, which was a significant improvement over ’09’s 4.65 BB/9 rate. The lefty still has some work to do on his command, especially with his 88-93 mph fastball. Hand left too many hittable pitches in the zone and gave up 9.79 H/9. His other pitches include an average changeup and a plus curveball, which helped him post a strikeout rate of 8.57 K/9 rate. Hand produced an average ground ball rate in ’10 but he’s showed above-average rates in the past. He has the potential to be a durable No. 3 starter and could even surface in the Majors in 2011 if he throws well in double-A. 6. Marcell Ozuna, OF Acquired: 2008 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic) Pro Experience: 3 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: A-/A Opening Day Age: 20 Estimated Peak WAR: 4.5 Notes: Ozuna popped an unexpected 21 homers (.289 ISO) in short-season ball in 2010 at the age of 19. His power is for real but the teenager is going to have to make better contact after posting a strikeout rate of 34.8 K%. His power comes from his plus bat speed and quick wrists. Ozuna’s swing gets long at times and he also struggles with good breaking balls, which is not uncommon for a player his age. Defensively, the outfielder has average range and a powerful arm suitable for right field. The Dominican Republic native is still raw but he has perhaps the highest ceiling in the organization. 7. Rob Rasmussen, LHP Acquired: 2010 2nd round (UCLA) Pro Experience: 1 season 2010 MiLB Level: A Opening Day Age: 22 Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0 Notes: Rasmussen was a top-three-round talent out of high school but he fell in the 2007 draft due to signability and ended up at UCLA. Three years later, he signed with Florida as a second-round pick and he could move quickly through the system. His overall ceiling, though, remains modest as a third or fourth starter. Rasmussen’s curveball is not quite as good as it was in high school but his other three pitches: 89-93 mph fastball, slider, and changeup have improved. He’ll have to continue to prove doubters wrong as an under-sized hurler at 5’11” 170 lbs. Rasmussen has a high arm slot, which helps him snap off his bender, and his delivery is smooth. He does tend to leak out over the pitching rubber and needs to stay back. At worst, the southpaw should make the Majors as a LOOGY. 8. Osvaldo Martinez, SS Acquired: 2006 11th round (California JC) Pro Experience: 5 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: AA/MLB Opening Day Age: 22 Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0 Notes: Martinez is a promising prospect with a modest ceiling. The middle infielder is not going to dethrone incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but he could end up replacing the departed Dan Uggla at the keystone. Martinez has a nice level swing and looks calm at the plate. He’s not afraid to bunt or use the whole field, which makes him an ideal No. 2 hitter. He’s also comfortable hitting with two strikes and can work the count. With a small frame, Martinez is not going to develop much home-run power, but he has a quick bat that could produce a significant amount of doubles. 9. Jhan Marinez, RHP Acquired: 2006 non-drafted free agent (Dominican Republic) Pro Experience: 5 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: A+/AA/MLB Opening Day Age: 22 Estimated Peak WAR: 2.0 Notes: After starting off 2010 in high-A ball, Marinez moved quickly through the minors and made his MLB debut late in the season. He projects as an eighth inning guy but could eventually see time as a closer as he matures as a pitcher. Marinez has easy velocity and a loose arm. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94-95 mph. He also has a good slider and an occasional changeup. When he’s on, Marinez’ slider looks like his heater until the last minute. The young pitcher throws with a low three-quarters arm slot. He has a tendency to get under the ball when his delivery gets out of whack and that causes him to leave pitches up in the strike zone. I tend to shy away from ranking too many relievers on Top 10 lists but Marinez impresses me; if he can command his secondary pitches he could be a valuable high-leverage reliever. 10. Scott Cousins, OF Acquired: 2006 3rd round (U San Francisco) Pro Experience: 5 seasons 2010 MiLB Level: AAA/MLB Opening Day Age: 26 Estimated Peak WAR: 3.0 Notes: Cousins will be 26 years old on opening day 2011 and he has yet to secure a full-time gig in the Majors despite his promising tools. The outfielder flashes both power and speed but his overall game is still inconsistent, in part because he was a two-way player in college. Cousins has struggled against southpaws in the past but he hit more than .300 against them at triple-A in 2010. It remains to be seen if he’ll have to be platooned at the MLB level. He is a good defensive outfielder who can play all three positions and has a strong arm suitable for right field. Cousins could end up being a solid platoon or fourth outfielder for a playoff-contending club.