09/06/12 10:00 AM ET
Deadline trades shake up Marlins' Top Prospect list
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Once the Marlins failed to make up ground in the standings in July, the organization opted to move in a different direction. So rather than watch the team spin its tires and go nowhere, the front office decided to make some drastic changes. The Marlins pulled off four big trades late in the month and talked about "retooling" for the future.
Those transactions not only changed the look of the Marlins, they also bolstered a Minor League system in need of refurbishing.
Trading Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers on July 23 brought in right-hander Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly and lefty Brian Flynn.
Two days later, Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate were sent to the Dodgers for right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.
And on July 31, the last day of the non-waiver trade period, Edward Mujica was shopped to the Cardinals for third baseman Zack Cox, and Gaby Sanchez was moved to the Pirates for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.
"I think the overall depth has definitely improved with the trades that we made," said Marlins vice president of player development Marty Scott.
The influx of young talent certainly played a part in restoring a Minor League system that had been depleted in recent years.
Overall, Miami has made a major leap in the prospect ranking standings.
When the season opened, the Marlins ranked 26th, in terms of their representation on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list (players were assigned point values, ranging from 1-100, based on their position on the list). Now, after the trades, the First-Year Player Draft and the emergence of players already in the organization, Miami has jumped up to No. 10.
Some of the young talent has already filtered up to the big leagues. Turner and Eovaldi are part of the rotation, and Brantly is regarded as a potential everyday catcher. Hernandez is also seeing regular time in the outfield.
"Flynn pitched real well in Double-A," Scott said. "Turner is the real deal. Eovaldi is up there. Zack Cox, we couldn't be more happy with him. McGough, I saw him pitch real well. We're taking him to the Arizona Fall League, which should be good for him."
In MLB.com's revised rankings, Turner is the Marlins' No. 3 prospect, while Brantly is rated No. 11.
marlins' top prospects
The July trades may have changed the look of the system, but they didn't unseat the player regarded as Miami's No. 1 prospect.
Christian Yelich opened the season at No. 1 and is still ranked as the top player in the organization. The 20-year-old outfielder overcame a concussion early in the year, and he finished with an impressive .330 average with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs at Class A Jupiter.
Yelich came on in the second half, batting .365 after the Florida State League All-Star break.
"He's a .300 hitter," Scott said. "From a scouting standpoint, he's an 80 hitter [the highest score]. He just hits the ball where it's pitched all over the field."
As impressive as Yelich has been, some in the organization and around the game could make a case there should be someone else in the No. 1 spot.
Jose Fernandez is rapidly rising in the eyes of evaluators. The 20-year-old moved up from No. 3 to the second spot in the MLB.com rankings. Armed with a 95-mph fastball, Fernandez dominated at two levels this season. He has the potential to become a legitimate big league ace.
Fernandez opened the season at low Class A Greensboro, where he was 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts. He was promoted to Jupiter, where his innings were limited to no more than five per outing. He finished the regular season at 7-1 with a 1.96 ERA, striking out 59 and walking 17 in 55 innings.
"A great development year for him," Scott said. "We've been real careful with his innings. We're just really happy with his season."
Yelich and Fernandez are getting tested now while they compete in the Florida State League playoffs.
In the new MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list, Yelich made a nice leap to No. 18, after opening the year at No. 35.
Fernandez, meanwhile, wasn't in the initial Top 100, and he now is No. 23 overall. Turner is the other Miami prospect on the list, sitting at No. 40, a drop from the No. 15 slot at which he opened the season.
Miami's Top 20 list also was impacted by the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Four new players -- Andrew Heaney (No. 4), Avery Romero (No. 9), Kolby Copeland (No. 12) and Austin Dean (No. 17) -- who were selected in June were also added to the list. Rounding out the list is Grant Dayton (No. 20), a reliever who was an 11th-round pick in '10.
The infusion of new players bumped six off the club's preseason Top 20. Jose Ceda, who missed the season due to Tommy John surgery, opened the year at No. 14. Kyle Skipworth (previously No. 15), Kyle Jensen (No. 16), Jose Alvarez (No. 18), Joe O'Gara (No. 19) and Dan Jennings (No. 20) are not part of the revised rankings.
Jennings, however, is now on the Marlins as a September callup.
Heaney was Miami's first-round pick in June, and the left-hander started for low Class A Greensboro in the South Atlantic League playoffs on Wednesday night.
"I think winning helps as far as development," Scott said. "To win a championship, if you can get that taste and know what that's all about, and you experience that, it stays with you forever."