Hey guys, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series, I’m excited to get these going again. Today I’ll be talking about the Greensboro Grasshoppers as I continue alphabetically around the league. The Grasshoppers are a minor league affiliate of the Miami (I still want to call them Florida) Marlins.
Previously I covered:
The Asheville Tourists (Rockies) Previewing the 2017 Asheville Tourists
The Augusta Greenjackets (Giants) Previewing the 2017 Augusta Greenjackets
The Charleston Riverdogs (Yankees) Previewing the 2017 Charleston Riverdogs
The Columbia Fireflies (Mets) Previewing the 2017 Columbia Fireflies
and the Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles) Previewing-the-2017-delmarva-shorebirds
For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series, I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017 and whenever possible I try to include a scouting report. It’s a lengthy process but I enjoy it and I learn a ton from it.
For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Greensboro Grasshoppers, Batavia Muckdogs and GCL Marlins.
At Notes From The Sally it’s all about live look scouting. So when I see the Grasshoppers you can expect write ups on many of the players listed below. I set a goal to see every team in the Sally twice in the 1st half of 2017 (April 7- June 18th). I’ll be seeing the Grasshoppers in late April when they visit Asheville and for the 1st time since 2014 I’m hoping to see the Grasshoppers at home in NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro when they host the Shorebirds in late May. I’m looking forward to that trip it’s a beautiful stadium. I’ll dive deeper into all of this as we get closer to the season.
A quick shoutout to Alex at Fish on the Farm (on Twitter @marlinsminors) for answering a few questions I had as I dug into this. He’s a good dude and he knows the Marlins minors as well as anybody.
Lets meet the notables
LHP) Braxton Garrett- Age 19, listed 6’3″ 190 lbs, bats and throws left. Garrett was drafted 7th overall in the 2016 draft out of high school in Florence, AL. Garrett didn’t pitch in any games after the draft but did make an appearance in instructs. There’s a chance he spends most or all of 2017 in short season ball. I hope he does come to the Sally I’m looking forward to seeing him.
Rich Wilson at Prospect 361 released his top 10 Marlins prospects list back in November, here’s a snippet of what he said of Garrett:
“Garrett has good stuff with a fastball that sits 89 to 92 MPH with a lot of late hop. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, there is physical projection remaining and with that could be another tick or two on his fastball.
His best pitch is a hammer curve that was too much for high schoolers. If he continues to develop the pitch and his fastball develops into a 60 offering, he could have the stuff to profile as a number two starter in baseball.”
For more on Garrett and the rest of the Marlins top 10 click here it’s a good read: Miami Marlins
RHP) Tyler Kolek– Age 21, listed 6’5″ 260 lbs, bats and throws right. Kolek was drafted 2nd overall in the 2014 draft out of high school in Sheperd TX (Houston area).
I saw Kolek in Greenville late in 2015, a strong young man with a very good heater. He worked 93-95 touching 96, mixed in a slider with pretty good bite and change that was hard and straight. He was a little all over the place that night. Since then he’s had Tommy John surgery and didn’t pitch at all in 2016 and probably won’t ready until June or July this year. He’s still young but that’s a lot of lost development time. He’s got big time potential but a lot of work to do.
CF, LF) Stone Garrett- Age 21, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Garrett was drafted in the 8th round of the 2014 draft out of High School in Richmond, TX (Houston metro). I thought when the season ended that Garrett was a near lock to repeat with Greensboro. He missed the 1st 2 weeks of 2016 recovering from a wrist injury. He got off to a slow start and right about the time he was starting to hit, he was the victim of a prank gone wrong and needed thumb surgery. That cost him all but the last two weeks of the regular season. He played well in Winter ball in Australia however so now I think there’s a chance he starts 2017 in Jupiter.
I saw Garrett once last season, I guessed on the field he was 6’2″ 205 lbs. He’s a strong young man with very good bat speed and plus raw power. He’ll need to tone down some of the aggressiveness and his pitch recognition skills need work.
CF) Thomas Jones- Age 19, listed 6’4″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Jones was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft out of high school in Laurens, SC (Greenville area). Double plus speed and 6’4″ 195 lbs. He’ll be high up on my list of players to see in 2017.
Here’s what mlb.com had to say about him
“A three-star football recruit and two-sport standout at Laurens (S.C.) High, Jones had several offers to play safety from top college football programs, but he opted instead to commit to Vanderbilt’s baseball team as a center fielder. It was that athleticism, along with his offensive potential on the diamond, that also kept him from stepping foot on campus, however, as the Marlins went above slot to add him to its system, giving him $1 million as the No. 84 overall pick.
Gatorade’s South Carolina player of the year, Jones tweaked his hamstring at the outset of his senior season, so scouts who saw him early didn’t see him at top speed. When healthy, he has plus-plus wheels that allow him to be disruptive on the bases and cover both gaps easily in center field. With at least average arm strength, he’s capable of playing all three outfield spots.
With a quick right-handed bat and a muscular frame that can add more strength, Jones could have average or better power if he adds some loft to his flat swing. His stroke can get long at times and he’s still raw after dividing his time between two sports, but he shows some aptitude for hitting and should improve once he focuses on baseball.”
For the rest of mlb.com’s top 30 Marlins click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=mia
RF) Isael Soto- Age 20, listed 6′ 190 lbs, bats and throws left. Soto was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. Soto got into 113 games with Greensboro in 2016 but could be a candidate to repeat. Soto is yet another toolsy but raw outfielder in the Marlins system, he’s got good bat speed, the ball jumps off of his barrel. He put up a .152 ISO in 2016. But the approach is rather raw and needs work with pitch recognition.
Around the Diamond:
Blake Anderson- Age 21, listed 6’3″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right. Anderson was drafted 36th overall in the 2014 draft out of high school in Collinsville, MS. He’s struggled offensively as a pro but he’s still young and the pedigree is there.
Pablo Garcia- Age 20, listed 5’10” 170 lbs, bats both and throws right. Garcia was signed out the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Jared Rindfleisch- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 225 lbs, bats and throws right. Rindfleisch was drafted in the 9th round of the 2016 draft out of Ball State Univ.
All 3 of these guys seem to be in line to make the jump to full season ball it will be interesting to see how the playing time will be disbursed.
Others who could see time at Catcher: John Silviano could be back, Gunner Pollman, Korey Dunbar, Alex Jones, David Gauntt, Juan Gomes, James Lovett,
2B) Justin Twine- Age 21, listed 5’11” 205 lbs, bats and throws right. Twine maybe a candidate for a 3rd trip to Greensboro. He’s athletic with loud tools but raw and a very aggressive approach. Made the jump from SS to 2B in 2016. Still young, still interesting but a long way to go.
SS, 3B) Garvis Lara- Age 20, listed 6’1″ 170 lbs, Bats left and throws right. Lara was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. Lara missed nearly all of 2016 due to a suspension, the Marlins may choose to keep him in rookie ball for another season as a result.
mlb.com wrote this about Lara last Summer:
“Lara stands out at shortstop for his athleticism and range, with the latter being attributed to his instincts and his quick first step as much as his above-average speed. He showcases plus arm strength across the infield, and his throwing accuracy should improve with cleaner footwork and better body control.
Lara has a simple left-handed swing that allows him to make consistent contact and utilize the entire field, and he began working on switch-hitting in 2015 at the organization’s request. There’s a long road ahead of him, but he shows the early makings of a possible everyday shortstop.”
Other choices in the middle Infield:
SS, 2B) Samuel Castro- Age 19, listed 5’10” 160 lbs, bats both and throws right. Castro was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. After a decent showing in the GCL Castro struggled in Batavia and could probably use another year in rookie ball.
2B) Mason Davis- Age 24, listed 5’9″ 175 lbs, bats both and throws right. Davis was drafted in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of the Citadel. He got up to Greensboro for 11 games at the end of last season. Due to his advanced age he might go straight to Jupiter in 2017. Davis saw time at 2B, SS, 3B, LF and CF in 2016.
2B) Mike Garzillo- Age on opening day 23, listed 5’11” 185 lbs, bats and throws right. Garzillo was drafted in the 25th round of the 2016 draft out of Lehigh Univ.
2B-SS) Luis Pintor- Age 21, listed 5’9″ 170 lbs, bats and throws right. Pintor was drafted in the 21st round of the 2016 draft out of New Mexico Junior College
2B) Matthew Brooks- Age on opening day 21, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats left, throws right. Brooks was drafted in the 35th round of the 2016 draft out of Monroe Community College (Rochester, NY)
I think the middle infield shakes down like this: We see Twine at 2B at least for a short while, if Lara is ready he’s the starting SS, if not Pintor likely is. We may see him anyway as the 3rd player who spells both starters. Garzillo and Brooks will be in the mix too though neither saw time at SS post draft, either could be a candidate at 3B.
1B) Eric Gutierrez- Age 23, listed 5’10” 205, Bats right, throws left. Gutierrez was drafted in the 20th round of the 2016 draft out of Texas Tech Univ.
3B) James Nelson- Age 19, listed 6’2″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right. Nelson was drafted in the 15th round of the 2016 draft out junior college in Sysco, TX.
mlb..com wrote this of James Nelson:
“Nelson shows good feel for hitting, with a short, clean swing from the right side of the plate that yields consistently hard contact to all fields but offers little in the way of power. Meanwhile, his plus speed serves him well on the basepaths as well as in the field. Though he was drafted as a shortstop, Nelson spent his entire pro debut at the hot corner, where his athleticism and above-average arm strength are clean fits.”
For more on Nelson and the rest of the Marlins top 30 click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=mia
3B) Aaron Blanton- Age 23, listed 6’2″ 175 lbs, Bats and throws right. Blanton was drafted in the 9th rod of the 2013 draft out of Richland College. He started 92 games at 3B for Greensboro in 2016 and could be a candidate to return.
3B-1B) Javier Lopez- Age 22, listed 6’3″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right. Lopez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. He’ll likely get his 1st look at full season ball in 2017.
3B, SS) JJ Gould- Age 23, listed 6′ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Gould was drafted in the 24th round of the 2016 draft out of Jacksonville Univ. Could see time at both positions in 2017.
Other candidates for playing time on the infield corners: Colby Lusignan (1B), Branden Berry (1B)
CF, LF) Stone Garrett
CF) Thomas Jones
CF, LF) Corey Bird- Age 21, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats and throws left. Bird was drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 draft out of Marshall Univ.
Alex at “Fish on the Farm” wrote about Bird and many other players on this list back in July during his Batavaia preview check it out it’s a great read: 2016 Batavia Muckdogs Season Preview
RF, CF) Aaron Knapp- Age 22, listed 5’10” 175 lbs, bats left, throws right. Knapp was drafted in the 8th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of California at Berkley.
RF, CF, LF) Jhonny Santos- Age 20, listed 6′ 160 lbs, bats and throws right. Santos was signed out of Panama in 2013.
mlb.com included Santos in their top 30 Marlins prospects and had this to say about him:
“The Marlins secured Santos for $25,000 in July 2013, after the club went to great lengths to scout him in a small coastal town in Panama. They sent him stateside to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2015, where he impressed at age 18 with his abilities on both sides of the ball.
Santos has good contact skills thanks to a compact swing, and he exhibits advanced feel for the strike zone, leading scouts to believe he will continue to hit for average as he moves through the Minors. With quite a bit of projection remaining, Santos should grow into some power as he develops physically.
Defensively, Santos is capable of playing all three outfield spots, though the Marlins like him most in center field, where his above-average speed and excellent instincts make him a rangy defender.”
For the rest of the Marlin top 30 prospects click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=mia
LF, RF, CF) Dalton Wheat- Age 23, listed 6’2″ 185 lbs, bats left and throws right. Wheat was an undrafted free agent signed by the Marlins that Alex told me to watch for. So I’m excited to see him. He also thinks there’s some chance he skips
Other outfielders who could see playing time: Zach Sullivan (CF), Casey Soltis (LF, CF, RF), Walker Olis (LF, RF, CF), Zach Daly (CF, LF, RF), Terry Bennett (LF)
LHP) Braxton Garrett
RHP) Tyler Kolek-
RHP) Edward Cabrera- Turns 19 one week after opening day, listed 6’4″ 175 lbs, bats and throws right. Cabrera was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, skipped the Dominican Summer League and came straight to the Gulf Coast league which is pretty aggressive. He could probably use a year in Batavia before coming to full season
mlb.com had this to say about Cabrera
“Cabrera already operates in the low 90s with his fastball and should gain more velocity as he continues to grow into his projectable frame. His slider shows the makings of becoming an above-average pitch, pairing nicely with his heater, and he also features a changeup that’s currently a work in progress. Cabrera already does a good job flooding the zone with strikes, and that should improve with more consistent mechanics.”
For more on Cabrera and the rest of the Marlins top 30 click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=mia
RHP Jordan Holloway- Age 20, listed 6’4″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right. Holloway was drafted in the 20th round of the 2014 draft out of high school in Ralston Valley, Co (Denver Metro)mlb.com
mlb.com had this to say about Holloway:
“At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Holloway is a projectable right-hander with considerable room left for growth. His fastball sits in the low 90s and bumps higher at times, and he uses his height to create a steep angle toward the plate. Holloway made strides with his curveball last season, throwing it with tighter spin and good depth, but he does struggle to get on top of it at times. His changeup is a work in progress, but it could develop into a viable third pitch.
Holloway is capable of missing bats both with his heater and breaking ball, but he won’t pile up strikeouts as he should until his below-average control improves. That should happen, though, as he is very athletic and is still getting a feel for repeating his delivery.”
For more on Holloway and the rest of the Marlins top 30 click here: http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=mia
Other SP to watch for LJ Brewster and Gabriel Castellanos could be back. Ryan McKay and Travis Neubeck could make the jump.
I enjoyed diving into the Marlins system, there’s more here than I imagined there would be:
The starting staff should have some combination of Braxton Garrett, Jordan Holiday, Edward Cabrera and Tyler Kolek and maybe all 4.
The Outfield should have toolsy center fielder Thomas Jones plus one or both of Stone Garrett and Isael Soto. Dalton Wheat, Corey Bird and Jhonny Santos all sound interesting as well.
The Infield may be anchored by shortstop Garvis Lara and Justin Twine, as well as James Nelson and Luis Pintor.
I hope you got as much out of this as I did
Up next is a look at one of my home teams the Greenville Drive. Cheers