fishies got 4
Yelich has one of the prettiest swings in the minors, with strong, steady hands; a short and very consistent path to the ball; and good rotational motion giving him some power in his follow-through.At just 20 years old for the 2012 season, Yelich led the high Class A Florida State League in slugging while finishing second in batting average and OBP (behind a 24-year-old), even hitting left-handed pitchers at a reasonable rate. He's a good athlete and solid-average runner who can handle the range aspects of center field but whose awkward throwing motion has always made him a candidate to move to left field. He has improved just enough that center looks like it might be an option long term.In left, his bat will still profile as an above-average regular or better as he gets on base and hits 20-plus homers a year, but if he's just an average defender in center he should be a five-win player or better at his peak.
Fernandez might have had the best year of any pitching prospect in full-season ball, graded just by performance, showing two plus pitches and better command of both of them than expected, reaching high Class A before his 20th birthday in late July.
He comes from just under three-quarters, sits in the mid-90s and will regularly hit the 97-99 range with heavy life (although he's not a big ground ball guy). He throws both a curve and a slider; his downer low-80s curveball is a real swing-and-miss pitch that would miss right-handers' bats in the majors today; the upper-80s slider is also quite effective, with more tilt than the curve to break away from right-handers' bats.
He does have a big frame that sits on the border between "durable" and "heavy," which won't be a problem if he maintains his conditioning but will require more work than the typical pitcher has to do to keep himself in shape. He also needs to develop an average changeup, a pitch he barely had to work on in 2012 because the fastball/breaking ball were so effective, although he did have a modest platoon split at both levels.
The Marlins should push him so that he's challenged in 2013 and forced to make adjustments, including developing that third pitch, to get him closer to that No. 1 starter upside.
If you don't like Nicolino, you see a lefty with an average fastball and breaking ball, better changeup and no projection, making him a back-end finesse guy. If you like him, you see shades of Cole Hamels with a potential out pitch in the change and feel for pitching well beyond his age.
The Hamels comparison comes up a lot because of the changeup and the lack of a big fastball, with Nicolino sitting at 88-92 and unlikely to move up more than a mile or two an hour from that. He has an average breaking ball, but the changeup is the separator. It's really a silly pitch, with great deception so that it looks just like the fastball coming out of that slot just under three-quarter, with a little late fade to finish off hitters who weren't fooled by the release. He pounds the zone with all three pitches, walking just 21 of 494 batters faced in the Midwest League while still missing bats.
I don't think Nicolino becomes an ace like Hamels -- if I did, I'd have him rated higher -- but I do think he becomes an above-average starter because he has so many positives, including a legitimate out pitch, in his favor.
Marisnick was one of the two significant prospects heading to Miami from Toronto in the Marlins' firesale deal in November, with Justin Nicolino (No. 62) the other one. Marisnick has a great set of tools, grading out as above-average in running, arm, power, and glove, but he's shown some holes at the plate that have reduced his probability of becoming an above-average regular.
His approach at the plate is not great, as he's beatable both on breaking stuff and on hard stuff up or in. He has virtually no load and doesn't get extended well enough before contact to let that raw power, visible in BP, play in games. Some of this is a matter of mechanical adjustments, but there will probably always be a lot of swing and miss to Marisnick's game, and he may ride to the majors on his defense and running speed more than on his bat.