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03/13/2008 1:06 PM ET
Marlins farm overflowing with pitching talent
Tucker, Volstad, Sinkbeil, West could dominate at Double-A
Top prospect Cameron Maybin soared through the Minors in 2007 when he hit .316 with 53 RBIs and 25 steals before reaching the Majors in August. (Rob Carr/AP)


The future success of every Major League team lies in its Minor League system. With that in mind, each preseason, takes a top-to-bottom look at all 30 organizations, from top prospects to recent draft picks.

If any team is looking for young, knocking-on-the-door pitching, stop by the Marlins organization to do your one-stop shopping.

Not that Florida's looking to deal any of their pitching prospects just yet, but unless they want to have a 10-man rotation in the near future, they might be hitting the market with as much pitching depth as anyone in baseball.

It starts with all those first round picks they had in 2005. Most of those pitchers, along with 2006 first-rounder Brett Sinkbeil, are now preparing to pitch in Double-A and start pushing their way to Florida. Add to that the capable arms that came over from Detroit in the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade, and it's almost overwhelming.

All the pitching talent tends to overshadow the hitters in the system and while they might be behind those hurlers, there are certainly some guys who can swing the stick. Cameron Maybin, the uber-prospect who came over from the Tigers, is atop the list and center field should be his very, very soon. Marlins fans may be a bit frustrated about the trade of the cornerstones of the franchise, but the Marlins have shown an ability to rebuild quickly and add top-notch talent that can compete sooner rather than later. So fear not, Fish fans -- with a new ballpark on the way, there's a steady stream of young talent that will fill it now and into the future.

10 Spot
Ten prospects to watch out for in 2008:

Burke Badenhop, RHP
He's not the best-known name -- though he might have the most interesting one -- among the many young players who came to the Marlins from Detroit in the Cabrera/Willis trade. That doesn't mean he can't pitch, of course, but he doesn't have as many innings at the higher levels as his other former Tigers did.

Badenhop, a 2005 19th-round pick from 2005, has a good fastball, changeup and breaking ball menu that he can throw for strikes. He's pitched well in big-league camp this spring and the Marlins know they have some flexibility with him.

A starter for his entire career, he looked very good coming out of the bullpen during his time in the Arizona Fall League last season and could fill a swing-man type role in the future.
Audio: Badenhop finishes a complete game

Here are a few players on the brink of breaking into the Major Leagues:
Gaby Hernandez, RHP -- He's been in the very large mix of No. 5 starter possibilities and has pitched well in big-league camp.

Cameron Maybin, OF -- The big prize in the Tigers trade, it's looking likely he's ticketed for Triple-A. Just don't expect him to be there for long.

Dallas Trahern, RHP -- He was supposed to be in the rotation competition, but got a fairly early reassignment. He's still likely to be among the first to get the call should the need arise.

Chris Coghlan, 2B
When the Marlins took Coghlan in the supplemental first round of the 2006 Draft, it was with the hope that the Mississippi product wouldn't need much polish, at least offensively, before moving quickly up the ladder. He's been pretty much as good as advertised, needing only small adjustments to give him a little more extra-base power.

Coghlan had 12 homers and 31 doubles for a .474 slugging percentage in his first full season with Class A Greensboro, nice numbers for a second baseman. He also stole 24 bases and made a very nice transition to second base after primarily playing third in college. A very hard worker who is extremely self-motivated, Coghlan was a South Atlantic League All-Star and attended the 2007 XM All-Star Futures Game. Though he hit just .200 in 34 games in the Class A Advanced Florida State League at the end of last year, a strong Arizona Fall League showing and some time in big-league camp should have him ready for a jump to Double-A. He'll get some work at third to provide an option for the team in the future.
Audio: Coglan's All-Star RBI double
Audio: Coglan goes yard

Monday, Feb. 25Chicago Cubs
Tuesday, Feb. 26Milwaukee Brewers
Wednesday, Feb. 27Cincinnati Reds
Thursday, Feb. 28Astros and Pirates
Friday, Feb. 29St. Louis Cardinals
Saturday, March 1Baltimore Orioles
Sunday, March 2Tampa Bay Rays
Monday, March 3Boston Red Sox
Tuesday, March 4Toronto Blue Jays
Wednesday, March 5New York Yankees
Thursday, March 6Los Angeles Angels
Friday, March 7Seattle Mariners
Saturday, March 8Oakland Athletics
Sunday, March 9Texas Rangers
Monday, March 10New York Mets
Tuesday, March 11Atlanta Braves
Wednesday, March 12Philadelphia Phillies
Thursday, March 13Nationals and Marlins
Friday, March 14Cleveland Indians
Saturday, March 15Kansas City Royals
Sunday, March 16Minnesota Twins
Monday, March 17Detroit Tigers
Tuesday, March 18Chicago White Sox
Wednesday, March 19Colorado Rockies
Thursday, March 20Arizona Diamondbacks
Friday, March 21Los Angeles Dodgers
Saturday, March 22San Francisco Giants
Sunday, March 23San Diego Padres

Matt Dominguez, 3B
Talk to any amateur scouts who saw Dominguez play in high school and they'll evoke Brooks Robinson-type images about his defense. Turns out, they weren't far-fetched. The Marlins' first-rounder is really that good with the glove at the hot corner.

He's no slouch at the plate, either. He was overshadowed by teammate Mike Moustakas, the No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, but Dominguez can swing the stick. He's got an advanced approach at the plate and looks very polished. At the same time, there's a lot of ceiling and he should hit for average and power. The Marlins have worked with him on establishing a better base to hit from, and he's proven to be a very quick and eager learner. He'll play nearly all of the 2008 season at age 18 and should go right to Class A Greensboro to start it off.
Audio: Dominguez rips an RBI double
Audio: Dominguez' RBI single

John Raynor, OF
The Marlins' 2007 Player of the Year, Raynor was a senior sign taken in the ninth round of the 2006 Draft. He spent the entire season with Greensboro, where he finished second in the South Atlantic League in batting average (.333) and stolen bases (54) while placing fourth in OPS (.948).

A real competitor, the Marlins knew he had plus speed when they got him, but he's shown more with his bat overall than they expected when they drafted him out of UNC-Wilmington. He played left field almost exclusively last year, but he'll probably get some starts in center to see if he's the kind of guy who can handle all three outfield spots. More than likely, he'll move up a rung to Class A Advanced Jupiter, but he's getting playing time this spring with the Double-A club. Since he's already shown an ability to exceed expectations, a leap up to Carolina shouldn't be ruled out entirely.
Audio: Raynor goes deep twice
Audio: Raynor's huge 5-run night

Gaby Sanchez, 1B
People want to say Sanchez, the Marlins' fourth-round pick back in 2005, had a "down" year in 2007, mostly because of a drop in power numbers. However, the first baseman had 40 doubles to go along with nine homers and played in a park -- Roger Dean Stadium -- that is among the worst in the Minors to hit in. He's the first to admit it affected him in the first half of the year, but he came on strong in the second half (.292 AVG, .504 SLG).

While Sanchez focused primarily on first base last year, he's going to see more time at third in '08. He's worked hard to improve his agility and has improved his range. He was a catcher in college and while that won't be his primary position, having a guy with that kind of bat who can serve as an emergency third catcher can certainly come in handy. He'll move up to Double-A Carolina after spending some time in Major League camp this March.
Audio: Sanchez goes 4-for-4
Audio: Sanchez's double wins it

Brett Sinkbeil, RHP
After taking a number of high school pitchers in the first round in '05, the Marlins took this college arm with their first-round pick in '06. Sinkbeil has fit right in with the other first-rounders in the organization.

Sinkbeil's fastball-slider (a hard sinker, really) combination has many saying he belongs in the bullpen. But the Marlins have seen very good progress with his changeup, so there's no plan to move him out of a rotation any time soon. He missed a chunk of time with back problems in 2007, but made up for it with a very strong showing in Hawaii Winter Baseball, where he worked predominantly on his changeup. He's poised to join a star-studded rotation in Double-A Carolina to start the year.
Audio: Sinkbeil's fourth straight win

Graham Taylor, LHP
Taylor earned organizational Pitcher of the Year honors after winning its pitching triple crown with 12 wins (tied with Chris Volstad), ERA (2.99) and strikeouts (138).

The Miami of Ohio product, taken in the 10th round of the 2006 Draft, is a control lefty who has no trouble commanding the ball to both sides of the plate. He throws a slider and changeup along with a fastball and delivers them all with low-maintenance mechanics. He was fatigued when he got the chance to make a couple of starts at the end of the year in Jupiter, but was extremely steady and reliable with Greensboro. He'll go back to Jupiter to start the year and is the type who could move quickly if there's room.
Audio: Taylor's complete-game shutout

Aaron Thompson, LHP
Thompson sometimes is the forgotten man in the group of five first-rounders that now fill the Marlins system. He may not have the flashy or electric stuff of Sinkbeil, Volstad, Ryan Tucker or Sean West, but he does have four pitches that work.

He was one of the most polished high schoolers in that 2005 draft and he's continued to be a pretty good strike-thrower. He's extremely smart on the mound and has a very good idea of how to pitch. He's gotten a good opportunity to compete in big-league camp and will be a part of that Carolina rotation to start the year. He's not far from being Major League ready and it's not out of the question that he'll hit Miami before the season is over.
Audio: Thompson's third strikeout

Ryan Tucker, RHP
If you're a fan of truly electric stuff, Tucker might be your guy. He's got a hard fastball that sits in the mid-90s and he actually does a pretty good job of commanding it to both sides of the plate. He complements it with an excellent changeup that keeps hitters off-balance.

Tucker has lacked a good breaking ball since high school, and it's something he's still working on. The slider is his pitch of choice, and he's worked hard on perfecting it. The sentiment is once he can throw it consistently, he'll pitch in the big leagues. He's shown enough of a feel for it that the organization thinks it will come, so he'll continue working on it in Carolina, but if the light goes on, watch out.
Audio: Tucker ices complete game shutout

Chris Volstad, RHP
In many ways, Volstad is the prototypical sinker-baller with the high arm slot and ability to throw from a downward plane thanks to his 6-foot-7 frame. Then he unfurls a true curve ball that breaks him from the mold since most pitchers of that ilk feature a slider as a breaking pitch instead.

Volstad has fallen in love with his two-seam fastball -- perhaps his biggest problem. He's learned to mix in more four-seamers to be a little less predictable, to go along with that curve and a changeup. Things started to click for him in the second half of last season when he went 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in seven starts after a promotion to Double-A. He's gotten some time in Major League camp and has pitched well, but he'll likely head back to Carolina to start the year. With a good start to the '08 campaign, Volstad could be knocking on Florida's clubhouse door very soon.
Audio: Volstad hurls six shutout frames

Under the Radar
Greg Burns, OF
Taken in the third round in the 2004 Draft, the athletic Burns has been a little slow to develop. Something clicked for him in Greensboro last year, his second season in the South Atlantic League. He'd never hit above .260 before, yet he finished the year at .280 to go along with 39 stolen bases. He still swings and misses quite a bit (122 strikeouts), but a .307 first half and .310 August have the Marlins believing he's starting to figure things out. Still just 21-years-old, the move to Class A Advanced Jupiter should be an interesting one to watch.
Audio: Burns belts a two-run single

Scott Cousins, OF
Normally, a third-round pick isn't truly "under the radar," but like his other offensive teammates in Greensboro, hitters in this system tend to get lost behind all that pitching. Cousins himself was a two-way player in college, but has been only a hitter since being drafted in 2006. He had a huge second half during which he hit .312 with a .568 slugging percentage that enabled him to finish the year with a .292 average, 18 homers and 16 steals. The lefty-hitting outfielder can play center field and should get to roam the vast Jupiter outfield this season.
Audio: Cousins slugs two-run HR
Audio: Cousins goes deep again

Logan Morrison, 1B
Taken in the 22nd round of the 2005 Draft, Morrison headed to junior college as a draft-and-follow before signing just prior to the 2006 Draft. He played all year last year at age 19 and immediately turned his raw power into performance, with 24 homers for Greensboro, albeit in a friendly park for hitters. He'll get just the opposite in Jupiter, where again he'll be among the youngest position players in the league.
Audio: Morrisson touches 'em all

Sean West, LHP
Yes, a first-rounder in this category. A torn labrum a year ago kept him from throwing a single pitch in 2007, so he's fallen behind the other 2005 first-rounders in development. Don't expect that to last for long though. He showed up to camp in the best shape of his career and is already throwing well and pain-free. He may be behind now, but the tall lefty is sure to catch up fast.

2007 Draft Recap
OF Mike Stanton (supplemental first round) didn't do much in his brief pro debut last summer, but the Marlins feel he's one of the most athletic players they've ever had in their system... OF Bryan Petersen (4th) hit just .250 with Class A Short-Season Jamestown, though he did steal 11 bases in 13 tries and showed a little pop with 19 extra-base hits in 57 games... RHP Steven Cishek (5th) served as an excellent short reliever for Jamestown in the New York-Penn League, posting a 1.95 ERA, nine saves and a .175 batting average against in 32 1/3 IP... RHP Garrett Parcell (12th) shared closing duties with Cishek, holding hitters to a .197 average, saving six games, posting a 1.24 ERA and striking out 36 over 36 1/3 IP... The Marlins took RHP Kyle Kaminska in the 25th round and convinced him to forego his commitment to Michigan State. He had a 2.54 ERA in five GCL outings spanning 19 innings... RHP Derek Blacksher (33rd) did what a college pitcher should do in the Gulf Coast League, posting nine saves and a 0.49 ERA in 15 games after scuffling a bit in five NY-Penn League outings.
Audio: Cishek nails down the save
Audio: Parcell fans a pair
Audio: Blacksher gets the strikeout
Audio: Stanton's round-tripper

Organizational Player of the Year -- Gaby Sanchez
Freed from the hitting purgatory known as Roger Dean Stadium, Sanchez will emerge as a complete hitter. The Southern League isn't exactly a hitting haven, but it will be compared to his 2007 home and Sanchez will take off, leading the organization in homers and RBIs.

Organizational Pitcher of the Year -- Ryan Tucker
So many arms to choose from, it's almost hard to go wrong. Here's saying Tucker will get the hang of that slider this year allowing him to take off. The only thing that keeps him from nabbing this award is a quick ticket to the Majors.

Rotation to watch -- Carolina Mudcats
Head to Zebulon, N.C. and see them while they're all there. Volstad, Tucker, Thompson, Sinkbeil, maybe Badenhop and eventually West. It's the makings of a real good seven-man rotation.

First call to the show: It could be Tucker, though that would ruin our pick for Cy on the Farm, so we'll go with Trahern, the import from Detroit in the big offseason trade. He will, though, just be holding a spot for the wave of talent right behind him.

"We feel like we're very well-stocked with pitching. They're all making progress and that group is very close to helping out in the big leagues, perhaps this year and next year, for sure." -- Jim Fleming, vice president of player development and scouting and assistant general manager, on the group of former first-rounders who should be in Double-A to start the season.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.