Most Impressive Hitter
While the strength of the Marlins High Class A team is without question their pitching, the organizations most impressive hitter is also on board. Jeremy Hermida is the Florida Marlins most impressive offensive prospect. His left-handed stroke is quite literally a thing of beauty being very fundamentally sound and completely free-flowing and smooth through all facets. As impressive as his swing is it is still not the most impressive aspect of Hermida’s hitting. What is most striking about Jeremy is his discipline in the batter’s box. His batting eye and strike zone judgment are both top notch. His focus and preparation is obvious the second he steps into the on-deck circle. He zeros in on the pitcher and what he is doing and is unshakable in his focus. He also makes consistent contact as he very rarely gets fooled or swings through a pitch.
I had the opportunity to talk about Hermida to one of the coaches of the St. Louis Cardinals Class A affiliate Palm Beach Cardinals and he said that even though they had been playing against the Marlins team for 3 weeks during the exhibition season that they had still not figured out a way to pitch to him to get him out.
The only complaint about Hermida’s offensive repertoire right now is that he is not showing much in terms of plus power but if you look at his body frame there is little doubt that his power will come in time as he matures. I am quite certain he can be a 25-30 homerun guy in time. Right now however he is a line drive hitter with plus gap power.
In 2004, expect Hermida to hit over .300 with somewhere around 10-15 homeruns.
Defensively, Jeremy is adequate but not spectacular.
3B Lee Mitchell
The Marlins drafted Mitchell in 2003 out of the University of Georgia. Having spent a few years in the powerhouse SEC conference, Mitchell carries with him the discipline that comes with experience. His strike zone judgment is above average and he makes good contact with power despite not yet filling out physically.
Defensively, he is very good. He is confident with the glove and shows a good arm.
OF Travis Ezi
Acquired in the Juan Encarnacion deal, Ezi shows 5 tool talent. He can hit for both power and average, he shows good speed, and he is very good in the field. His strike zone judgment also appears to be above average as well as his discipline. The only downside to Ezi is his age, as he turns 24 in July.
OF Jose Aponte
Aponte is notable because of his blazing speed, otherwise he didn’t stand out but his speed was well worth mentioning.
Most Impressive Pitcher
LHP Scott Olsen
Unfortunately, I only had the opportunity to watch Olsen pitch once during the exhibition season. But in that one outing I was more than convinced that he was the best pitching prospect I saw in the Marlins system.
The game I saw Olsen worked 3 innings and gave up only 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5. The tall left-hander was throwing his fast-ball only in the 89-91 mph range but his projected ceiling is in the mid-nineties. What was most impressive about Scott was his slider which when on is a plus pitch. His fastball also has a natural down ward movement as it reaches the plate which leads to a lot of ground ball outs.
Right now, Olsen is very tall and while his body type has improved through conditioning, he still has a ways to go. Also, his mechanics still need working on in getting more consistent. If Olsen understands his potential and puts forth the effort necessary he can become one of the most highly regarded pitching prospects in baseball.
RHP Josh Johnson
The first thing you will notice about Josh Johnson is his size. Quite simply, he is HUGE. At 6’7 he is without question the tallest Marlins prospect. Despite his size, scouts have said that his fastball is only average but is projected to get better with maturity. Judging by what I saw in the spring, that maturity is happening. Josh was throwing his fastball in the 90-92 mph range and I feel that even more is possible as he still has a long ways to go in his physical development. The encouraging point about Johnson is that at this point his fastball is his least impressive pitch. Josh’s strength is his curveball and change-up.
Like Olsen, if Johnson puts forth the effort to develop his body and mechanics he can be as good as any pitching prospect.
RHP Yorman Bazardo
Many scouts consider Bazardo the Marlins top pitching prospect. While in terms of raw skills they may be right, as he already throws a mid 90’s fastball and a very good change-up, he is still very rough around the edges. His breaking pitches need refinement as do his overall control which is probably a sign of inconsistent mechanics. Being only 19 years old the projections are off the charts for this kid.
RHP Phil Akens
Akens may be un-heralded but he really impressed me with his showing in exhibition action. He was consistently throwing his fastball in the mid 90’s and threw a very effective curveball and his control was also very good. I’m going to keep my eye on him this year.
RHP Lincoln Holdzkom
Holdzkom didn’t participate in the spring exhibition season because of injury but he will be on the High Class A roster to start the season.