The Marlins traded off a number of key assets but the minor league system remains thin thanks to less-than-impressive drafts, inconsistent international market returns and so-so trades.
The Graduate: Jarlin Garcia, RHP: A promising but inconsistent starting pitcher in the minors, Garcia had some success in the Majors as a reliever. His control is ahead of his command and he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher so he’s susceptible to the home run even though he can hump his heater up into the 95-96 mph range. The southpaw was much better against same-side hitters in 2017 so he’ll need to make some adjustments to develop into a high-leverage arm (but he has a potentially-plus changeup, which gives hope).
First Taste of The Show: Brian Anderson, 3B: I’ve been a fan of Anderson since he turned pro in 2014. The former third-round selection likely won’t be a star but he should develop into a steady, everyday player for The Fish. And, after appearing in 25 big league games in 2017, he could back-up both second and third base in ’18 — or take over a starting gig if the cost-conscious Marlins get rid of Starlin Castro or Martin Prado. He has a chance to be a very good defender — especially at third base — and projects to be an average hitter with average power, although he should produce good on-base rates with his history of walking at a healthy clip.
The Stud: Sandy Alcantara, RHP: The Marlins system lacks a true “stud” prospect despite trading off Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna. The latter asset, though, brought back some intriguing players and Alcantara has perhaps the best chance to impact the big league club. I’m just not 100% sold on him developing into an impact starter and see a more likely future in the ‘pen. The hard-throwing right-hander can hit triple digits with his heater but his current lack of command/control makes it less effective and he struck out just 106 batters in 125.1 double-A innings in 2017. If he can turn his slider and changeup into average offerings, he’ll have a chance to be a starter. If not, he’s headed for a future role as a reliever — possibly in high-leverage situations.
The Draft Pick: Brian Miller, OF: With first selection Trevor Rogers having yet to play in pro ball, I’ll focus on the 36th overall selection in the draft. This speedy outfielder does exactly what you want a player with his skill set to do: Take free passes (ie. get on base lots) and put the ball in play a lot (by limiting the swing-and-misses). He stole 21 bases in 57 games during his debut in low-A ball and has a shot at opening 2018 in high-A ball. He could be on the fast-track to Miami. If he can’t hit well enough to play everyday, though, he might settle in as a pretty good fourth-outfielder due to the speed and strong defensive play.
The Riser: James Nelson, 3B: A 2015 15th rounder, Nelson showed signs of swinging a decent bat in 2017 with a .309 average. His 31 doubles hint at future power potential if he were to add a little more loft to his swing. The biggest need for Nelson is to tighten up his approach at the plate after walking just 26 times in 102 games. The 2018 season should be a good test for the young infielder as he shouldn’t need much time in high-A ball and good double-A pitchers will start to pick him apart if he doesn’t temper his aggressive approach.
The Sleeper: Zac Gallen, RHP: This right-hander has a chance to be a solid contributor for the Marlins even if he was more of a third piece in the deal with St. Louis. Gallen, 22, reached triple-A in his first full season in pro ball and the Cardinals have a habit of drafting/developing underrated college arms. His future role would likely be as a fourth starter in the Majors but he also might make a solid big league reliever in the Chris Devenski mold if he continues to develop both his cutter and changeup into above-average offerings.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.