Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Miami Marlins

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The third base and second base positions likely represent the biggest holes. The Marlins have some intriguing catchers coming up through the system.

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Andrew Heaney, LHP: The Marlins will, at some point in 2015, receive ace Jose Fernandez back from Tommy John surgery. However, the rotation is young and relatively unproven meaning there could be plenty of opportunities for inexperienced but promising pitchers like Heaney. The left-handed starter isn’t flashy but he operates a three-pitch mix that plays up due to his above-average command and control.

2. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP: DeSclafani was more or less an afterthought in the late-2012 deal that saw both Toronto and Miami shake up their big league rosters. Despite being a lesser known prospect at the time of the deal, the former University of Florida hurler has now surpassed the more heralded Justin Nicolino on the depth charts. Originally a reliever, the right-hander has developed into a potential No. 4 starter at the big league level and got his first taste of the Majors in 2014.

3. Justin Nicolino, LHP: Nicolino, 23, is a similar pitcher to Heaney. The young southpaw has modest stuff but he succeeds due to above-average command and plus-plus control. He was also quite durable in 2014 by throwing 170.1 innings at the Double-A level. Unfortunately, he lacks a reliable wipeout pitch and his strikeout rate sat at just 4.28 K/9 last season. Right now, his ceiling looks like that of a back-end, innings-eating starter. He’ll likely need a significant injury or two to occur in the Majors for the Marlins in 2015 if he’s going to see significant innings.

4. J.T. Realmuto, C: Incumbent big league catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will enter 2015 in the second year of a three-year deal but his hold on the starting gig cannot be considered infallible given his modest offensive production (somewhat offset by his defensive skills). Realmuto is one of two intriguing young catchers in the upper levels of the Marlins’ system and he’s developed into a solid defensive player in his own right, while coming off perhaps his best offensive season (at the Double-A level).

5. Austin Barnes, 2B/C: Barnes is a step behind Realmuto on the catching depth chart but he has increased value due to his added versatility and ability to play a competent second base. He split the 2014 season between High-A and Double-A while showing a solid eye, ability to hit for average and improving power. He’s not a well known name but he could be a nifty 24th or 25th man for the Marlins with his ability to play different positions and swing the bat.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Marlins Guy
Marlins Guy

What do Enrique Hernandez’ prospects look like? Any chance of him starting at 2B and is his strong 2014 in both AAA and in MLB a sign of things to come?