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Mayo on The Marlins Farm system


Eddie Altamonte

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Young arms on the way to help Marlins

09/28/2007 9:00 AM ET

By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com

 

Before the 2007 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big-league team's Minor League system. Now, it's time to recap all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent draft class.

More organizational reviews Atlanta Braves Baltimore Orioles Chicago Cubs Chicago White Sox Cincinnati Reds Florida Marlins Houston Astros Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Dodgers Milwaukee Brewers New York Yankees Oakland Athletics Pittsburgh Pirates San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants Seattle Mariners St. Louis Cardinals Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers Toronto Blue Jays Washington Nationals

 

While the big-league version of the Marlins suffered through a disappointing season, they still had a nucleus of extremely young talent in the Minors. While some ascended to help out in Florida here and there, most eyes were on Jupiter -- Florida, not the planet -- for the next wave of impact players.

 

That's where Florida's all first-round rotation was slated to be. It turned out to be a mixed bag for that pitching crop with some successes and some failures. The same could be said for the entire system. Greensboro in the South Atlantic League and the Marlins club in the Gulf Coast League finished over .500. There is more talent making its way through the Marlins system, but it may take a little while.

 

Organizational Players of the Year

 

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

 

Gaby Sanchez, 1B:

Playing mostly first base, Sanchez didn't have a bad year in the Florida State League, with a .279 average, 40 doubles and 70 RBIs. More importantly, he stayed healthy, playing 133 games for Jupiter, but it wasn't quite enough to make him the actual Player of the Year.

 

Chris Volstad, RHP:

A first-rounder in 2005, Volstad once again turned around a rough start and had a superb second half. This time almost all of it came after a promotion to Double-A. He had a 3.16 ERA in seven starts for Carolina after a 4.50 showing in Jupiter. He did all of this at age 20, it should be noted, but half a season does not a Pitcher of the Year make.

 

POSTSEASON SELECTIONS

 

John Raynor: A ninth-round pick last year out of UNC-Wilmington, Raynor followed up a decent pro debut last summer with an outstanding full-season debut with Greensboro. The 23-year-old speedster led the organization with his .333 average and 54 stolen bases, placing him second in both categories in the South Atlantic League. He also hit 13 homers, had a .429 OBP and .519 SLG which led to the fourth-best OPS -- .948 -- in the league. He was selected as the official Marlins Minor League Player of the Year as a reward.

 

Graham Taylor, LHP: Taylor won the organizational Triple Crown, tying Volstad with 12 wins and topping everyone with his 2.99 ERA and 138 strikeouts. That earned him the organization's official Pitcher of the Year award. The lefty out of Miami (Ohio) spent almost the entire season with Greensboro before getting a late bump up to Jupiter. He finished sixth in the South Atlantic League with a 2.68 ERA and seventh in strikeouts (135). He walked 23 in 174 1/3 total innings.

 

Climbed the Ladder

 

Brett Carroll, OF: A lot went right for Carroll in 2007 as he keeps improving year after year. In 2005, he hit 18 homers and stole 10 bases. Last year, it was 17 and 13. The problems were his average -- .243 in '05 and .236 last year -- and strikeouts -- 108 and 110 respectively. All that improved in 2007 as Carroll hit .304 between two levels, smashed a career-high 22 roundtrippers, drove in 82 runs, slugged .572 and struck out 89 times en route to making his Major League debut with the Marlins.

 

Chris Coghlan, 2B: The 2006 supplemental first-round pick had a whirlwind first full season. He learned a new position -- second base -- made the South Atlantic League All-Star Team, was named to play in the Futures Game and got promoted to Jupiter. While he scuffled some post-promotion, his overall numbers were still impressive, finishing with a combined .287 average, 12 homers, 82 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.

 

Rick VandenHurk, RHP: The tall 22-year-old Dutch right-hander began the year in Double-A, but ended up throwing over 80 big-league innings. Between Carolina and Albuquerque, VandenHurk had a 3.29 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 65 2/3 frames, holding hitters to a .207 combined average. For the season, Minors and Majors combined, the Futures Gamer fanned 157 in 147 1/3 innings.

 

Kept Their Footing

 

Gaby Hernandez, RHP: It would've been hard for Hernandez to top his first season with the organization in 2006. In the first half, his first taste of the Southern League, he came close. Hernandez had a 3.57 ERA at the Double-A league's All-Star break, but ran into some tough luck and carried a 4-8 record. The second half wasn't quite as kind, Hernandez had a 5.37 post-break ERA, but ironically went 5-3. As if more evidence was needed about the relative meaninglessness of won-loss records for pitchers. Overall, he finished with a 4.22 ERA after pitching in Double-A at age 21.

Audio: Hernandez tosses six no-hit innings

Audio: Hernandez hurls a complete game

 

Gaby Sanchez, 1B: A .279 average and .433 slugging percentage may not seem all that impressive a year after he hit .288 and slugged .540 in 74 games, but it was better than you would think. First, Sanchez's home park in Jupiter was not the friendliest place to hit in the world, and his numbers were markedly better across the board on the road. He also got stronger as the season wore on and he slugged over .500 after the All-Star break. In another park and league, many of his 40 doubles would have cleared fences, something the Marlins will hope happens in the future.

 

Brett Sinkbeil, RHP: The No. 19 pick in the 2006 draft joined the host of first-round picks in Jupiter's rotation and pitched fairly well in his first full season. The problem was he wasn't healthy for much of it. While he did have a 3.42 ERA, the Missouri State right-hander tossed 79 innings all year. He was outstanding later in the year, going 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA in seven post-All-Star break starts. He finished with a 2.27 ERA in July when he was shut down for the rest of the season. He'll try to make up for some lost innings by pitching in Hawaii.

 

Chris Volstad, RHP: While he didn't build off his dominant second half of 2006 right out of the gate, going 8-9 with a 4.50 ERA for Jupiter, he did respond well with a promotion to Double-A Carolina in late July. He remained one of the bigger ground-ball pitchers in the Minors with a 2.01 groundout/fly out ratio. At the same time, his strikeout rate did go up and he could be primed for a climb next season, when he'll pitch at age 21.

 

Slipped a Rung

 

Harvey Garcia, RHP: It's hard to say a guy who reached the big leagues and pitched well there, albeit briefly, slipped. But the year after Garcia saved 21 games for Jupiter, fanning 83 in 64 2/3 frames and holding hitters to a .221 average, the 23-year-old reliever who came over as part of the Josh Beckett deal had a 5.47 ERA at two Minor League stops. Hitters hit a combined .280 against him, doing most of their damage when he was with Albuquerque (he didn't like the thin air, with a 8.16 ERA at home and 3.26 on the road). His strikeout rate, while good, fell to less than a batter per inning.

 

Kris Harvey, OF: Back in 2005, the son of former Marlins closer Bryan Harvey and the Marlins' second-round pick that summer had a terrific debut, being named to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game and hitting .300 for Jamestown. Last year was derailed, however, by a strained oblique muscle and he managed to play 96 games for Greensboro. The hope was that a healthy 2007 would show the real Kris Harvey and all his power potential. He played in 116 games and picked up 420 at-bats with Jupiter, but he hit .238 and slugged .376, albeit in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. One cause for optimism is that he was markedly better after a dismal first half, as there was improvement in about every statistical category.

 

Sean West, LHP: The Marlins took five pitchers in the first 44 picks of the '05 draft. While West was the fifth of that list, he may have the best pure stuff when healthy. He missed a month of the '06 season with shoulder pain, but finished the season healthy and was poised to join the all first-rounder rotation in Jupiter this year. But his shoulder wouldn't let him. He had surgery in March and missed the entire '07 season. He's 21 years old, so there's still time for him to get back on track, but he's clearly fallen behind some of his other '05 first-rounders.

 

On the Radar

 

Scott Cousins, OF: Cousins was a two-way player at the University of San Francisco and the Marlins took him as an outfielder in the third round of the 2006 draft. He hit .211 in his debut with Jamestown last summer, but quickly erased that memory with an outstanding 2007 campaign for Greensboro. Playing mostly right, with some center field mixed in, Cousins hit .292 with 18 homers and 16 steals. Even better was that he had a much stronger second half, hitting .312 and slugging .568 after the break, with 14 of his shots coming in the latter stages of the season.

 

Todd Doolittle, RHP We had him "Under the Radar" prior to the season, but his 2007 campaign put him firmly on it, even if he struggled a bit toward the end of the season. The non-drafted free agent finished fourth in the Florida State League with 28 saves. Despite the slightly inflated 3.68 ERA, Doolittle continued to rack up the strikeouts with 61 in 51 1/3 innings. He has fanned 237 in 189 2/3 career frames as a pro. A jump to Double-A at age 25 next season will be a true test to see if he can stay on the radar long-term.

 

2007 Draft Recap

 

1. Matt Dominguez, 3B: Negotiations with the No. 12 overall pick went almost to the 11th hour, but the Marlins were able to sign the second Chatsworth High player taken in the first round (No. 2 pick Mike Moustakas played alongside Dominguez). Dominguez got in a total of 15 games before the season came to an end, going 9-for-57 with 14 strikeouts, though he did collect his first pro home run with Jamestown. He's an outstanding defensive third baseman -- one of the best scouts had seen in any draft class in recent memory -- and has plenty of power potential.

 

2. Mike Stanton, OF: A tremendous two-sport athlete who chose baseball over football, Stanton got into 17 games as a professional right fielder this summer. He went 9-for-56 between the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn Leagues, striking out 21 times. Like Dominguez, he picked up his first pro homer with Jamestown, in his next-to-last game. He's a bit on the raw side, but has tremendous upside both in the power and defensive departments.

 

3. Jameson Smith, C: Smith, a backstop out of Fresno City College, followed the same path as his fellow early draftees, going first to the Gulf Coast League and then up to the New York-Penn League. The lefty-hitting catcher went 6-for-34 in 11 games. He's got some pretty good pop from the left side and while he has a strong arm, base-stealers were a perfect 15-for-15 against him. He'll likely be given a longer chance behind the plate, but could have enough skills to handle a move to another defensive home.

 

Others of note: RHP Stephen Cishek (5th round) had nine saves, a 1.95 ERA and .175 batting average against as Jamestown's closer. RHP Brett Durand (11th round) had a 3.57 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 35 1/3 Gulf Coast League innings. RHP Garrett Parcell (12th round) had a 1.24 ERA and .194 batting average against in 36 1/3 frames to go along with six saves as he shared closing chores with Cishek in Jamestown. He was a New York-Penn League All-Star. LHP Marc Lewis (20th round) compiled a 2.95 ERA in 13 starts across two levels. 2B Ryan Curry (21st round) hit .308 with eight homers and 27 RBIs in 62 games for Jamestown. RHP Josh Roberts (35th round) pitched at three levels and combined for a 2.65 ERA, .218 batting average against and fanned 34 in 34 relief innings. 1B Ernie Banks (44th round) not only has a great name for the game, but hit .324 in 74 at-bats in the Gulf Coast League.

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