Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1. Cameron Maybin

1. Cameron Maybin - Center Field - 6'4 - 205lbs - Throws: Right - Bats: Right
(last year: 1)

Like there would be anyone else?

The centerfield spot has been an issue for the Marlins over the past few seasons and with no big time prospect in the minors to speak of, the Marlins felt they needed to target one when they decided it was best to part with Miguel Cabrera. Enter Cameron Maybin. The Marlins acquired Maybin, along with Andrew Miller, Eulogio De la Cruz, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop and Mike Rabelo in exchange for Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. Even though he was rated as a top 5 pick out of TC Roberson HS by Baseball America, Cam slipped to the tenth spot due to signability concerns. The Tigers would eventually sign him for $2.65mil. He didn’t sign until September of 2005, so his professional debut wasn’t until the next season in low-A West Michigan. In 385 at bats, he hit .304/.387/.457 with 35 extra base hits, 50 walks and 116 strikeouts. This performance as a 19 year old quickly put him on the short list of top outfield prospects in baseball.

In 2007, Maybin began the year with High-A Lakeland in the Florida State League. He absolutely dominated the FSL hitting .304/.393/.486 with 34 extra base hits, 43 walks and 83 strikeouts in 296 at bats. This earned him a promotion to Double A Erie where he saw just 20 at bats. Six games into his Erie stint, Cam was called up the bigs to start in centerfield with the Tigers. Clearly overmatched in his 49 at bat debut, he did manage to single and homer off Roger Clemens for his first two big league hits.

Maybin has a lanky build with very long arms which sometimes elongates his swing. He has a big frame and has shown power to all fields. Even with that power, he has no problem putting the ball on the ground and trying to beat out an infield hit. Like many young players, he needs to work on his pitch recognition but that should improve with every game he plays in. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and he does a good job of keeping his whole body under control when swinging. He has plus speed and runs with an effortless stride while tracking down balls in the outfield gaps. On the basepaths, Cam has proven to be able to steal bases at an 80% clip thus far in his major and minor league career combined. In the field, he needs to improve his reads once the bat hits the ball. He has a strong arm, but it did not show the usual accuracys in 2007. Some believe it was due to a shoulder ailment that cost him nearly a month.

2008 would be Maybin’s toughest task to date. The 6’4 centerfielder would open up with Carolina in Double-A. He suffered from nagging injuries from much of the year, but that didn’t stop him from putting up a .277/.375/.456 line as one of the youngest players in the Southern League. Cam would strike out at a higher rate than in any season before, but his walk rate improved as well. Late in the year, he would make his Marlins debut and he lit the world on fire for a few weeks, grabbing 16 hits in 32 at bats.

Cameron has a strong work ethic and great makeup. Even with the quick promotion from Double A to the majors in 2007, he remained remarkably composed through the entire thing. Some have compared him to Torii Hunter, while others have said he reminds them of a young Andre Dawson. With his season in Carolina, and his blistering 32 at bats in majors, the time has come for Maybin to be roaming centerfield in Dolphin Stadium. With the news of Hanley Ramirez now hitting third in the order, Maybin may be the next unconventional leadoff hitter in the Marlins lineup.

Monday, February 16, 2009

2. Logan Morrison

2. Logan Morrison - First Base - 6'2 - 215lbs - Throws: Left - Bats: Left
(last year: 26)

The Marlins drafted first baseman Logan Morrison in the 22nd round of the 2005 amateur draft as a “draft and follow” out of a high school in New Orleans. Morrison, just 17 at the time, could have accepted a college scholarship offer but couldn’t have been drafted again for three years, so he went to junior college for a year and signed with the Marlins in May of 2006. In his first professional season, Logan hit .239/.321/.319 with 2 homeruns in 163 at bats between the Gulf Coast League and Jamestown.

The youngest player on the Grasshoppers in 2007, not much was expected of the 19 year old Morrison. Age was just a number to Logan as he led the team in homeruns and rbi. Like many young left-handed hitters, he struggled against lefties hitting just .195/.246/.398 in 113 at bats. When he is in a funk, Logan gets too anxious and shifts his weight to his front side. Because he couldn’t stay behind the ball, he would then hit weak grounders and lazy fly balls. When things are going well for him, he shows power to all fields and routinely takes outside pitches the other way.

In last year’s write-up, I suggested that if Logan could put up solid numbers in the Florida State League, he would be a top 5 Marlins prospect and one of the better first base prospects in all of baseball. Well he did more than just put up solid numbers in Jupiter. The 6’2 first baseman hit .332/.402/.494 with 57 walks and 80 strikeouts. His homeruns dropped to just 13, but he hit 38 doubles which should translate to homeruns down the line. Morrison was named the Florida State League MVP. After his impressive season in High-A, Logan took his show to the Arizona Fall League where he impressed scouts after hitting .404/.444/.667 in 99 at bats off some of the best pitching prospects in baseball.

Compared to Ryan Klesko physically, Morrison was considered poor defensively when he signed a few years ago. In his 3 years in the organization, he has made great strides around first base and some believe he will be an above average fielder when all is said and done. He still needs to improve his range and get to more balls heading into the hole between him and the second baseman. He played some outfield in the AFL, so that could be another avenue for him if he is blocked at first base in the majors. The 21 year old will take his game to Jacksonville in 2009 and that will be the biggest test for him to date. His ETA is closer to 2010 but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him get some time in the majors in 2009 before all is said and done.

Friday, February 13, 2009

3. Michael Stanton

3. Michael Stanton - Outfield - 6'5 - 225lbs - Throws: Right - Bats: Right
(last year: 12)

Arguably the best athlete in the entire draft, Michael Stanton was a three sport start (baseball, football, basketball) at Notre Dame Academy. Recruited by Southern Cal as a wide receiver/defensive back, the Marlins inked him to a $475,000 signing bonus (about $60,000 over slot). The main issue with USC was that they wanted him to play baseball, and would allow him to walk-on to the football team. (UNLV offered him a full football ride with a chance to play baseball). Right away the Marlins thought they got an enormous steal being able to draft Stanton in the second round of the 2007 draft.

There wasn’t much to take from his 56 at bats between the Gulf Coast League and Jamestown in his professional debut. He struck out too many times, but atleast he did walk 4 times. In postseason minicamp, He hit a couple of mammoth homeruns and some compared him to Pat Burrell while others said he was a young Dave Winfield. Stanton is as raw as you can get in terms of where he is right now as a baseball player. He was overmatched in the 2006 summer showcases, even with improved pitch recognition throughout the year. The Marlins were a bit surprised with how well he ran, but considering he was going to play WR, they shouldn’t have been. The 6′5 monster projects as a corner outfielder with an average arm.

2008 was a massive coming out party for Stanton. In 468 at bats, he hit .293/.381/.611 with an astonishing 39 homeruns for the Low-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. Those numbers are amazing at any level, let alone for an 18 year old starting his first year of full season ball. While he walked 58 times, something to keep an eye on is the 153 strikeouts which is also a very large amount at any level. Even with the strikeouts, Stanton put himself in the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. Prospect guru John Sickels gave this analogy for Stanton’s high risk/high reward prospect status: His ceiling his very high, but there is a huge risk of a Soviet N-1 moon-rocket-style flameout at higher levels. To make a long story short of the N-1, it was potential unfulfilled once the Americans reached the moon.

Michael takes his 39 homeruns to the Florida State League, along with teammate and bash brother Matt Dominguez for 2009. The FSL and especially their home park in Jupiter has been known to be pitcher’s paradises. Stanton has to not press when his usual moonshots are just warning track flyouts. With the pitchers in the league being much better than the South Atlantic League, it will be interesting to see if he can do anything about the massive amount of strikeouts. We’ve seen players have huge years in Low-A, only to be knocked off their pedestal in High-A ball. Either way, it’s going to be an important season in the maturation of Michael Stanton.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

4. Matt Dominguez

4. Matt Dominguez - Third Base - 6'2 - 180lbs - Throws: Right - Bats: Right
(last year: 8)

The Marlins selected third baseman Matt Dominguez with the 12th pick in the 2007 amateur drafted. Drafted out of the same high school that produced number two overall pick Mike Moustakas, Dominguez was signed to a $1.8mil bonus. Matt entered the season competing for top prospect honors in Southern California, especially after leading USA Baseball's junior national team with two homers and 11 RBIs in last year's World Junior Championship. He has drawn comparisons to Mike Lowell and Eric Chavez, but the one you hear the most is that of Nationals 3b Ryan Zimmerman. His glove his major league ready and he has a strong, accurate arm over at the hotcorner. He shows good torque on his swing and is mostly a gap to gap hitter at this point. As he grows older and matures physically, those doubles should turn into homeruns.

In his first season, it was hard to take anything of note from Matt's 57 at bats between the Gulf Coast League and Jamestown. Even with the strikeouts early on, scouts still believe he will have above average strikezone judgment eventually. His season this year in Greensboro was a major leap forward for the 19 year old. He hit .296/.354/.499 in 345 at bats and hit 18 homeruns. His season started off a bit late because he had to deal with mono in the beginning of the season.

Matt’s smooth stroke will allow him to hit for both power and average. He's a smart baserunner as well. He has a great work ethic and scouts love his makeup both on and off the field. Like many Marlins prospects, Jupiter is going to be much tougher for him hitting-wise than Greensboro was. The Florida State League is a notorious pitchers’ league but if he can hold his own with the bat, he’ll continue to stay on the quick track for a starting spot in 2011.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

5. Sean West

5. Sean West - RHP - 6'8 - 200lbs
(last year: 9)

The Marlins selected Sean West in the supplemental first round of the 2005 draft. The Shreveport native was signed to a $775,000 bonus. It didn’t take him long to prove to the Marlins he was worth the pick. In 38.1 innings in the Gulf Coast League as a 19 year old, West went 2-3 with a 2.35era and a 1.04whip. He was striking out more than a batter an inning and only walked 7. In his first start of 2006 in low-A Greensboro, Sean threw 6 shutout innings. He would then be put on the shelf for a month with nagging shoulder pain. He would come back to finish his season at 8-5 with a 3.74era and a 1.29whip.

West came into the 2007 season rated in the top 3 Marlins prospects by many of the prospect pundits and was rated in a few of the top 100 overall prospects. This was short-lived as he tore his labrum in his first big league camp and missed the entire 2007 season. So now his timetable was set back a year, as opposed to his 2005 draftees who are all on their way to High-A Jupiter. At 6′8 and throwing out of a three-quarters arm slot, West has drawn comparisons to Randy Johnson and Andy Sisco. The big lefty throws a 90-93mph fastball that touches 95 with exceptional late life to it. He gets many of his strikeouts because of the movement on his fastball. As he grows, his velocity should spike up a bit more as well. He has two sliders, one tight and one with a larger break to it. The second one has been confused with a curveball at times. His changeup has plus potential. He has little trouble repeating his delivery and that allowed him to have pretty good command before the labrum injury.

Sean spent the 2008 season in Jupiter where he made a big comeback after his injury. In 100.2 innings of work, he went 6-5 with a 2.41era and a .224baa. His walks were up to nearly 5 per 9 but this was to be expected after not pitching an entire season. By all accounts, his velocity is totally back and while he is still a year behind in his maturation, he made big strides last season. He’s an emotional pitcher and has been labeled immature in the past because of how he acts on the mound. He added more lower body strength during his rehab sessions. West has as much, if not more, talent than any pitcher in the organization. If he can find the command of his secondary pitches in Double A Jacksonville this year, he could be fighting for a rotation spot in the Spring of 2009. If not, the whispers of him going to the bullpen will become louder.

Monday, February 9, 2009

6. Gaby Sanchez

6. Gaby Sanchez - First Base - 6'2 - 225lbs - Throws: Right - Bats: Right
(last year: 13)

Taken in the fourth round out of the University of Miami in 2006, Gaby Sanchez did not play for the Canes that season for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. That did not scare the Marlins away as he was signed for $250,000. In his first professional season at Jamestown, he tore it up, hitting .355/.401/.487 in just over 230 at bats. Being advanced in age, he started out 2006 in Greensboro. He hit an amazing .317/.447/.603 in 189 at bats. This earned him a promotion to High-A ball but his season took a turn for the worst when he suffered a broken hand sliding into first base. After rehabbing, he broke his foot rounding third base and that pretty much ended his season.

In 2007, his prospect status didn’t go up or down as he held his own in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Although he hit just 7 homeruns, he did have 40 doubles. While his walk rate stayed about the same, he did strikeout at a much higher pace than at any point in his career. There were some concerns that his numbers would take a nosedive in Carolina in 2008, but instead he would be named Southern League MVP. In 478 at bats with the Mudcats, Sanchez hit .314/.404/.513 with 17 homeruns and a surprising 17 stolen bases. Even more impressive were his 69 walks to just 70 strikeouts.

Sanchez has a very quick bat, and even though he is sometimes an impatient hitter, he does not strike out much for someone with his power potential. He has fantastic power to all fields and has become a walk machine as well. At this point last year, Gaby was still considered a defensive liability but hard work has turned him into an above average defensive first baseman. He has much improved footwork and his glove has impressed over the last year as well. With the departure of Mike Jacobs, it’s going to be Gaby’s job to lose in Spring Training.