Must Own Fantasy Player: Jose Fernandez
Potential Fantasy Bust: Giancarlo Stanton
Prospect to Watch: Justin Nicolino
The Marlins 2015 season was rough to watch, as they had to battle through absent superstars and a manager firing midway into the season. The team is laden with young talent and potential breakout performers, but the team still seems a few years off from competing for a division crown.
The biggest thing holding the team back has to be the rotation. Jose Fernandez missed a chunk of the season after battling TJ Surgery, but did not miss a beat in his return. He is easily a top 15 starter next season. They also brought in quality starter, Wei-Yin Chen, who looks to be a great late round fantasy target by now being in the friendly confines of Marlins Park. But the combination of Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler, and Edwin Jackson to fill out of the rest of the staff, serves as a fantasy wasteland.
Even though the rotation may look bleak, the Marlins clear strength is the core of their lineup. Speedster Dee Gordon, up and coming Christian Yelich, and the man with the most power in the game, Giancarlo Stanton, from a formidable top of the order.
Gordon should be in contention to be the first second basemen drafted this season after another great season in 2015. Yelich has shown a quality approach at the plate, and has the upside to grow into more of a power threat, so he remains an upside mid round target.
We all know the story with Stanton. If he could somehow find a way to stay healthy for a majority of the season, his upside is the greatest out of anyone in baseball. The upcoming season may prove to be one of the best times to get Stanton at a bargain rate as he will slide into the back half of the first round this spring. His listing as a bust only derives from the fact that his hand injury last season can effect a hitter’s power, so maybe 30 homers should be expected instead of 40+ next season.
The rest of the lineup and basically what will be prove to be the team’s story line for the entire season, is can the supporting cast perform at their true potential? Marcell Ozuna was a popular breakout pick last season, but his 2015 turned out to be downright abysmal. Surprisingly, the team has kept him instead of shipping this offseason, so there must be some belief that he can turn it around. He enters 2016 as nothing more than a latter round flier.
Then there were the solid performances from both Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto, who stood out as nice waiver wire adds last season and who now enter 2016, as starters. Bour’s power is legit, so he should be a quality CI selection this spring as he has 25+ homer upside and a huge RBI upside if he can slide into the cleanup spot. Realmuto is an interesting fantasy player heading into 2016 as well, as he could be a cheap starting catcher option that chips in 10 HR/10 SB.
Martin Prado has posted solid fantasy seasons in the past, but his injuries and capped upside, make him someone to ignore on draft day. Adeiny Hechavarria somewhat falls in the same boat, he has proven to be a decent MI pick or low end fantasy SS starter, but the upside is not high enough to make a draft day target.
The backend of the Marlins bullpen is another strong suit as A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps, form a great late inning 1-2 punch. Marlins’ brass has already stated that the starting closer competition will be wide open this spring, so owners will have to monitor who will ultimately wins the job. Both players offer solid K upside, so they should be drafted this season whether it be for saves or for those in Hold leagues.
To put it bluntly, the Marlins farm system is horrible. That is not to say that they do not have young players who have the talent to become starters at the big league level, but in terms of 2016 fantasy value alone, it is tough to find anyone worthy to watch.
I went with Justin Nicolino as a prospect to watch, even though he made 12 starts last season. He was decent in his debut, but lacks the K upside to warrant being drafted. There is also the case of whether or not he can crack the rotation out of spring training, but with the lackluster options in front of him, he should surely get his fair share of starts in 2016. Keep an eye on him throughout the season, to see if he can miss more bats.
The Marlins are in somewhat of a state uncertainty, because it seems as every month passes, Fernandez’s days with the Fish seem to be getting more and more numbered. The Marlins will probably not contend this season as they lack the arms to battle for a playoff spot, so the looming question will surround the club all season: do you trade Fernandez for the sake of the future?
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