After management tore its team down to the studs, the Miami Marlins’ rebuild remains in its early stages. Last season saw the club put a number of talented pitchers on center stage while also allowing hitters to sink or swim at the major league level. This environment has created a number of players who are worth looking at later in 2020 drafts, most of whom will have ample opportunity to push further ahead on the major league learning curve.
The team will look toward a mix of castaway veterans, scrappy quad-A bats, and their emerging young prospects to play out the season as they wait for their future to arrive in 2021 and 2022. Expect the club to be active at the bottom end of free agency to improve lineup quality while some younger homegrown players develop. Make sure to keep an eye on outfielders Jesus Sanchez and Monte Harrison as they make their way from Triple-A to the 25-man roster at some point next year.
(Last Updated: March 4, 2020)
- ADDITIONS: Jesus Aguilar (1B), Corey Dickerson (OF), Matt Joyce (OF), Francisco Cervelli (C)
- SUBTRACTIONS: Starlin Castro (2B/3B), Neil Walker (1B/3B), Bryan Holaday (C)
Jorge Alfaro (C | Batting 6th)
2019: 44 R, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 4 SB, .262/.312/.425 | C #16
2020 ADP: — (C #17)
Despite a change of scenery, Jorge Alfaro hit .262 for the second straight season and saw his OPS rise just five points from .731 with the Phillies in 2018 to .736 with the Marlins last season. While his productivity increased thanks to more games played, his ISO (.162) barely budged, his BABIP regressed (from an unsustainable .406 mark to a still high .364), his BB/K rate barely budged, and his WRC+ of 95 remained flat.
Nonetheless, the Marlins do not have any catching talent close to being MLB-ready behind Alfaro, and they will give him every opportunity to succeed while he works with their stable of young pitchers.
Strengths: PA/AB, H, HR
Weaknesses: OBP, OPS, RBI
Alfaro will turn 27 nearly midway through the 2020 season. With over a year of service time under his belt and no options remaining, he will be free from any platoon possibilities and could easily be a Top 15 fantasy catcher if he takes the next step.
His peripherals are not encouraging, and his development window is closing. It’s unclear if the Marlins’ young lineup will offer him any protection, but it’s less and less likely that a breakout season is in the making. It would probably be best to look elsewhere, as his 2020 projections do not match his 2019 results or his early-offseason ADP.
2020 Projection: 36 R, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 2 SB, .223/.275/.349
Brian Anderson (3B/OF | Batting 2nd)
2019: 57 R, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 5 SB, .261/.342/.468 | 3B #31
2020 ADP: 146.0 (3B #20)
Anderson took the next step in 2018, and the Marlins rewarded his results with a spot in the heart of the order as well as a chance to play both third base and right field. During his age-26 season, Anderson set a career high in home runs, RBI, and slugging despite being limited to 126 games following a late-August hand injury.
FanGraphs’ current ZiPS projections are not kind to the 2014 third-round pick, but he could return great value for a mid-round selection if he continues on his current trajectory.
Strengths: H, RBI, OPS
Weaknesses: SO, OBP
Anderson showed upside last season and should remain a fixture in the heart of the Marlins lineup thanks to both his bat and his defensive versatility. He’ll be 27 next year and unlocked some power thanks to a career-high 44 percent hard-contact rate. As the Marlins offense improves during their organizational rebuild, there will be more opportunity for both runs and RBI.
With an increase in power came a slight decrease in both batting average and on-base percentage. Anderson’s BABIP dipped closer to the league average at .305, and he saw his strikeout rate rise by nearly three percentage points. FanGraphs projects Anderson to be worth 2.5 WAR despite two consecutive seasons clearing at least 3.1 WAR, so there is some risk involved despite Anderson’s mid-round draft grade.
2020 Projection: 80 R, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 2 SB, .259/.342/.399
Jesus Aguilar (1B | Batting 4th)
2019: 39 R, 12 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB, .236/.325/.389 | 1B #51
2020 ADP: 383 (1B #30)
Aguilar was never able to recreate his magic from 2018 and ultimately lost his job in Milwaukee and was traded Tampa to be a platoon bat. He was slightly more successful in Florida, and he’s likely hoping that his new team Sunshine State will help him find what he lost. While bad luck played a part in his off season, the real issue is the huge step back he took against fastballs between 2018 and 2019. In 2018, he had a fantastic .602 slugging percentage against the heater and serviceable power numbers against offspeed and breaking stuff. In 2019, he slugged just .403 against fastballs while continuing to be mediocre-to-poor against everything else. He’ll need to find his groove against four-seamers to be relevant, but his rather good plate discipline and being in Miami should give him a very long leash.
Strengths: HR, RBI, OBP
Weaknesses: R, SB
Glimpses of the 2018 edition of Aguilar appear early and often as he entrenches himself as an everyday starter on his way to a 25 home run reason. The counting stats and ratios aren’t stellar, but his power helps you turn a profit by season’s end.
2020 Projection: 60 R, 20 HR, 70 RBI, 0 SB, .245/.330/.450
Miguel Rojas (SS | Batting 8th)
2019: 52 R, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB, .284/.331/.379 | SS #36
2020 ADP: Undrafted (SS #UR)
The Marlins rewarded Rojas with a two-year extension as well as a third-year team option in September, cementing him as the stopgap between the current lineup and Top 100 prospect Jazz Chisholm, who will likely begin the year at Triple-A. A reliable player entering his seventh major league season, Rojas will slot into the top of the Marlins lineup and is worthy of a mention for super-deep or NL-only fantasy leagues.
Strengths: H, BA
Weaknesses: SLG, OPS
Rojas solidified himself near the top of the Marlins lineup, appearing in 132 total games and hitting first or second in the order for 74 total contests. He posted a .285/.332/.382 slash line when playing shortstop and a .265/.291/.361 when hitting second despite a .300 BABIP in the latter situation. As the pieces around Rojas improve, his ability to get on base and get driven in should improve as well as he remains a useful piece.
Entering Rojas’ age-31 season, ZiPS has him slated for a .259/.305/.352 slash line with an even less impressive .283 BABIP. While his 35.6% hard-contact rate was a career high, he continues to have a penchant for ground balls and remains a very low-ceiling option.
2020 Projection: 41 R, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB, .259/.305/.352
Jon Berti (3B/SS/OF | Bench)
2019: 52 R, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 17 SB, .274/.348/.406 | SS #32
2020 ADP: 251 (SS #25)
Before the Marlins muddied the waters by acquiring Jonathan Villar, Berti looked poised to be a popular sleeper in fantasy circles after flashing elite speed by stealing 17 bags in 73 games (including a standings-altering four-steal game against the Mets on September 24). There’s no one clear path to playing time for Berti with the current roster construction, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore Berti entirely. His defensive versatility and the overall lack of depth on the Marlins roster makes Berti the perfect utility man and should afford him the opportunity to surpass 100 games this season as long as he gets a little bit of luck, and 100 games is all Berti would need to threaten the 20 steals mark for the season. Berti’s 98th percentile sprint speed makes him a nice bench bat for fantasy rosters in 12-team and deeper formats, but he’ll need a solid role to garner consideration in shallower leagues because he can’t contribute much outside of swiped bags. It’s worth noting that six of his 17 steals came in just 11 games against the Mets, who once again look to have a very weak battery when it comes to slowing down the run game. In DFS and shallow daily leagues, Berti would make a fine addition to any roster when facing The Kings of Queens.
Weaknesses: HR, RBI, SLG
Berti’s role as a super-sub becomes a full-on role that sees him hitting close to 10 home runs while stealing 25 bases without crushing your batting average or OBP.
Berti rides pine at least three days a week, making him unrosterable in virtually all mixed formats.
2020 Projection: 50 R, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 15 SB, .255/.315/.360
Isan Diaz (2B | Batting 7th)
2019: 17 R, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, .173/.259/.307 | 2B # UR
2020 ADP: Undrafted (SS #UR)
Diaz came into last season as one of the Marlins top prospects and while he did not impress in a limited major league sample, his impressive minor league showing (.973 OPS in 435 PA) has given him the inside track to the starting second base job. Diaz brings a little bit of pop and speed to the middle of the infield, but he’s still working to develop his hit tool (though last season was a big step forward in AAA). He’s the future at the keystone for the Marlins, so they’ll likely give him every chance to succeed as they wait for more help from the minor leagues in 2021 and beyond. The only major fantasy concerns for Diaz will be batting average and stolen bases. The batting average should come with time, and he could easily settle into a .260-.270 batting average as soon as 2021, but I’m a little concerned with the steals based on his limited success rates int he minors (where he should have been able to run wild). If you bet on 15 home runs and 5 steals and pay nothing for them, you have a chance to be pleasantly surprised.
Strengths: HR, BB%
Growth happens quickly for Diaz and he becomes a 20 home run, 10 stolen base asset with a low-but-workable batting average that you picked up on the waiver wire.
Growth comes and goes for Diaz as he shares the job with Berti most of the season, killing any chance for fantasy relevance.
2020 Projection: 50 R, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 5 SB, .230/.310/.390
Jonathan Villar (2B/SS/OF | Batting 1st)
2019: 111 R, 24 HR, 73 RBI, 40 SB, .274/.339/.453 | 2B #3
2020 ADP: 41 (2B #3)
The second breakout of Jonathan Villar was one of the few bright spots in Baltimore last season. Coming into 2020, Villar faces a very similar reality as he did at the start of 2019, batting lead-off for a very bad offense. This time, though, he is coming off the best season of his career (maybe second-best for fantasy purposes) and starting at a new position (center field). Villar is one of the safest bets for stolen bases out there after averaging 40 steals each year over the past four seasons. The shallowness of second base in fantasy combined with impressive versatility (he’ll gain outfield eligibility within about two weeks for most sites) makes him a strong early choice in roto and categories formats, but don’t get too excited in points leagues unless your setting are very generous to stolen bases, and they’re his most bankable asset. I’m sure some of you are worried that this second breakout will be followed by a second fall from grace, but that fear has been adequately baked into his pricing in most drafts when you consider his substantial upside.
Strengths: R, SB
Villar keeps it going, swiping another 40+ bags, hitting another 20+ home runs, and provides a positive return on investment as a versatile and valuable fantasy commodity.
2020 resembles 2017, where he followed a massive breakout with inconsistency, strikeouts, and a power outage. He could steal 25 bases and hit 10 home runs in a bad year, but those are hard numbers to swallow when you drafted him in the third or fourth round, especially when we know his batting average floor could be as low as .240.
2020 Projection: 90 R, 18 HR, 60 RBI, 40 SB, .260/.325/.400
Harold Ramirez (OF | Bench)
2019: 54 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, .276/.312/.416 | OF #97
2020 ADP: Undrafted (OF #UR)
The Marlins found a bit of a hidden gem in Harold Ramirez, plucking the 25-year-old outfielder from the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency and assigning him 119 major league games last season. The additions of Corey Dickerson and Jonathan Villar feel a bit unfair to Ramirez after such a solid campaign, but those are the breaks when you’re a middling-talent outfielder.
Weaknesses: PA, R, HR, RBI, SB
Ramirez will spend nearly all year at age 25, so there is room for opportunity and growth. If a few things happen that open up an outfield spot, he could be a servicable source of 10-15 home runs and worth a look in NL-only formats. I mean, when batting fifth last year, Ramirez produced a .325/.346/.429 slash line and a wRC+ of 107 across 130 plate appearances.
He doesn’t play.
2020 Projection: 30 R, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, .270/.310/.390
Garrett Cooper (1B/OF | Batting 5th)
2019: 52 R, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB, .281/.344/.446 | 1B #51
2020 ADP: 278.0 (1B #31)
It was a surprisingly capable season for the career minor leaguer as he sustained a high batting average with acceptable power all season long thanks to his solid performance against fastballs (343 xwOBA) and breaking balls (.348 xwOBA). He was the epitome of the kind of sneaky deep league value you can find in the middle of a bad batting order. 2020 comes with a little less certainty as the Marlins have bolstered their depth with players who profile better than Cooper at first base and corner outfield. He’s sort of caught in between a lot of places—too old to be a prospect, too green to be a veteran, good enough to play, mediocre enough to be easily replaced, and he has no obvious platoon advantage as a low-power righty. Unless he somehow hits .281 again, which would be surprising considering his very pedestrian power and plate discipline, expect him to take a few days off each week in favor of guys like Jon Berti, Harold Ramirez, or Matt Joyce.
Weaknesses: PA, HR, RBI
Entering his age-29 season, Cooper has not been able to stay healthy and is projected by ZiPS (via FanGraphs) for a flat 0.0 WAR with 94 games played in 2020. Lewin Diaz catapulted himself from a virtual unknown to nearly a Top 10 prospect in the Marlins organization and will begin the season at Triple-A next year. This would push Cooper toward the bottom of the lineup and move his profile to a pure corner outfielder.
2020 Projection: 45 R, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB, .260/.330/.410
Corey Dickerson (OF | Batting 3rd)
2019: 33 R, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 1 SB, .304/.341/.565 | OF # UR
2020 ADP: 305 (OF #77)
For most teams, C-Dick is just a platoon option, but in Miami there’s a chance for more as they continue to rebuild their roster. The career .286/.328/.504 hitter had a very strong 2019 campaign and posted career highs in batting average, OBP, slugging, and wRC+, in part due to limited exposure against left-handed pitching. That platoon split is important to his fantasy outlook, as his career 90 wRC+ against lefties is quite unpalatable while his 125 wRC+ against righties is quite appealing. The Marlins don’t have the depth to platoon him every single day, but if your (deep) league allows for daily line up changes and you need five outfielders, Dickerson could help you.
Strengths: BA, Points
Weaknesses: R, OBP
A full-time role and a return to the Sunshine State brings Dickerson back to his 2016-2017 levels, allowing him to post 25 home runs and useful counting stats with a strong batting average.
The Marlins keep him away from lefties and let the youngsters get the exposure instead, making Dickerson only useful in DFS and deep daily formats.
2020 Projection: 55 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 3 SB, .275/.320/.465
Playing Time Battles
- Rojas will remain the Marlins’ shortstop, but could be moved around depending on the development of highly touted prospect Jazz Chisholm. With Isan Díaz sticking at second base as he works through the final stages of his development, Chisholm will be a name to watch as we enter the 2020 season.
- Jon Berti will officially be a bench bat, but should carve out significant playing time. If Diaz, Anderson, Dickerson, or Cooper falter, Berti and Ramirez will be there to try and take their job.
|Miami Marlins||vs. RHP|
|Miami Marlins||vs. LHP|
Overall, the Marlins will not be a fantasy baseball powerhouse. While that’s not a surprise, there are a few talented players on the roster who will have an opportunity to produce daily and overachieve compared to their late-round draft grade. The Marlins remain a team to monitor especially in dynasty formats, as their talented prospects and major league-ready pitchers could cause their contending window to open sooner than some think.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@FreshMeatComm on Twitter)