Just a year ago today, both Mike Trout and Bryce Harper donned Arizona Fall League uniforms as they made final preparations before making the ascent to the big leagues. In 2012, they became the Rookies of the Year for their respective leagues. This year, a few noteworthy Marlins are making strides in the Fall League. These Fish may not be making Trout-sized splashes, but may soon have integral roles in Miami.
Kyle Jensen, an outfielder from California, played all of last season in AA Jacksonville, where he only hit .234. However, Jensen has made progress, and is currently batting .330 with five home runs for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. The current Marlins outfield features Justin Ruggiano manning center, with Giancarlo Stanton and Juan Pierre at the corners. Jensen could realistically see time this year as Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen are the only other current major leaguers with big league experience. An injury or poor performance from either one of them could open the door for Jensen.
Three years younger than Jensen, Christian Yelich, who will turn 21 next week, was the Marlins’ top draft pick in 2010. He played first base in high school, but has made the transition to outfield during his professional tenure. Yelich is batting .301 in the Fall League, and hit .330 last season in single-A Jupiter, with an on base percentage above .400. Whether or not Yelich will be ready for the big leagues this season is up to the Marlins’ front office, but it is my guess that he will spend at least another year in the minors before he sees any substantial time on the Major League squad.
Jake Realmuto is the Marlins’ top minor league catcher, who is the same age as Yelich, and was selected two rounds after him in the 2010 draft. He spent all of 2012 in Jupiter, where he hit .256. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see Realmuto backing up Rob Brantley in the near future. Miami’s current backup backstop is Jeff Mathis, who came over in the 12-player Toronto trade. Mathis hit just .218 last year in 70 games. Miami has long had underperforming catchers; therefore, if Realmuto can prove himself, he should see some Major League action within the next two years.
Currently, it does not appear that the Marlins have any prospects on the same level as Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. But the youthfulness, instability, and uncertainty of Miami’s present roster may provide opportunities for these young talents to showcase their abilities. And who knows? Maybe these players, or at least a subset of them, will indeed achieve greatness in their careers.