Introducing and Reintroducing Two Coming Marlins

In a series of tweets, it was shared yesterday that the Marlins are calling up prospects Isan Díaz and Lewis Brinson from Triple-A.

For the team with the worst record in the National League, you would have to imagine these two are going to be locked into starting jobs the rest of the season. It would be silly if even a several week slump pushes them to the bench. So let’s assume the playing time will be there and focus on their potential fantasy contributions.

Isan Díaz is the new face. He was ranked as the Marlins’ second best prospect heading into the season and has enjoyed a major breakout this year. Skills all over have surged, so let’s discuss them one by one.

First, his strikeout has improved to its lowest mark since Rookie ball back in 2015. His SwStk% hasn’t changed much since Single-A in 2016, so maybe this isn’t sustainable. Or, maybe since it was never that high to begin with, he has become a little more aggressive at swinging at pitches inside the strike zone, cutting down on his called strikeouts. Who knows, as I don’t have the data.

Next, his BABIP has spiked to the second highest mark of his career, behind that swell Rookie ball season. Yes, this is coming from a guy who routinely harps on the luck aspect of BABIP, which is why I created my xBABIP equation, but just because there’s luck involved doesn’t mean it’s all luck and no skill. Minor league BABIP does correlate with Major League BABIP pretty decently, so there’s real meaning in a spike.

Last, and most relevant for fantasy, Díaz’s HR/FB rate has skyrocketed from the super stable 11% to 13% range to about 28%. Considering his raw power was graded out at 60, this seems real. Unfortunately, Marlins Park was the third worst park for homers last year, so he’s going to have more trouble proving the new level of skill there than if he played for a team in a friendlier home park. Díaz is no speed demon, but he has swiped as many as 14 bases in the minors and could give us a pace of five to 10 steals over a full season.

Overall, this is a middle infielder with budding power, a touch of speed, potential BABIP ability and an average strikeout rate, and a willingness to take a walk. It all adds up to someone absolutely worth taking a shot on, even in 12-team mixed leagues.

Lew Brinson is the man being reintroduced, after he posted a putrid .248 wOBA with the team last year, and then somehow started out this season even worse with an impossibly bad .226 mark. But now after a .367 mark at Triple-A, he’s on his way back. Remember that he’s still just 25, and has all of 543 plate appearances to his name. That’s hardly enough to write him off and give up on the guy.

A major issue has been his plate discipline, as he struck out a lot in the Majors and rarely walked. It all added up to a hideous 26:165 BB/K ratio. The good news is walk rate was just below double digits in Triple-A, so maybe he learned some patience. The bad news is he was striking out as often as ever. He posted a 29.5% strikeout rate, and that was supported by a 17.1% SwStk% mark. That’s not good and it’s hard to be optimistic given that it doesn’t appear he has solved his strikeout woes.

His BABIP was strong, but it’s been strong at times in the minors, and hasn’t yet carried over to the Majors. Maybe this time it will. The best news there is relates to his power. His HR/FB rate jumped to 25%, the highest it has sat at any level over any sort of reasonable sample size. He has also continued to steal bases. In fact, he had hit 16 homers and stolen 16 bases at Triple-A, which extrapolates to a 28/28 season over 600 plate appearances. So that power/speed potential is there, but the downside is essentially Keon Broxton.

Because of the strikeout issues and the unlikelihood he does anything but damage your average, Brinson is better left for deeper mixed or NL-Only leagues.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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