Marlins Protect 6 Players and designated Wei-Yin Chen for assignment ahead of Rule 5 Deadline
The Marlins had until 8pm tonight to protect any rule 5 eligible players that were not on the 40 man roster. Miami went ahead and added pitchers Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera, Nick Neidert and Humberto Mejia as well as first baseman Lewin Diaz, and shortstop Jazz Chisholm.
Sixto Sanchez is the Marlins #1 overall prospect, which they acquired in the JT Realmuto trade last off-season. Sixto had a fantastic 2019 in the minors and has a chance to be called up in 2020. This was a no doubt lock into the roster. Edward Cabrera is listed at Miami’s #6 overall prospect according to MLB.com. The Dominican right hander really made strides last year getting promoted to AA and posting a 4-1 record with a 2.56 ERA. Nick Neidert who many view as the closest pitching prospect to reach the big leagues had an injury filled season in 2019, but really came back strong in the AFL and had many high rankings from numerous scouting reports. Neidert was a piece the Marlins got back in the Dee Gordon trade when the new ownership took over. Jazz Chisholm was another player acquired via trade. Last season Miami sent Zac Gallen (a young pitcher with great stuff and performing well) to Arizona to acquire Chisholm. The Marlins view the left handed hitting shortstop very highly and anticipate him in the big leagues in the not too distant future. Lastly, Lewin Diaz (another player acquired via trade) was acquired from the Twins for Sergio Romo at the trade deadline last season. Diaz provides some hopeful stability at the first baseman position which the Marlins lack desperately.
Two names that were really discussed internally to try to make room for were Humberto Mejia and Will Stewart. Since the Marlins had no more space on the 40-man roster, Miami could’ve lost both of these players in the rule 5 draft if selected.
However, the Marlins decided to finally let go of Wei-Yin Chen (for now) still owing him the $22 million left on his contract. I think many Marlins fans are happy with this move. Miami did not let a big contract get in the way of protecting a young arm. In this case, their choice was Humberto Mejia.
Mejia had a very intriguing 2019 for Class A Clinton going 5-1 with a 2.03 ERA. He was later promoted to High A Jupiter where he pitched 23 innings with an opponents batting average of .176. Mejia was an international signing by the Marlins from Panama in 2013. Mejia experienced some shoulder issues that delayed his pro debut but he has emerged as the best prospect the Marlins have gotten from that side of the world.
As for left handed prospect Will Stewart, it kind of makes you shake your head a bit knowing he was one of the pieces that came back in the JT Realmuto deal along with Sixto Sanchez. Stewart did not have a great start to his Marlins inaugural campaign. Stewart went 6-12 posting a high 5.43 ERA in High A Jupiter. In 129 innings pitched Stewart had 96 strikeouts but also 42 walks which makes up for a below average ratio. Although Stewart did pitch better than the record posted, the Marlins really needed to believe in his stuff and ability to kick someone off to make room for him on the 40 man roster. Obviously, we now know they did not protect Stewart and he is eligible to be selected by another team in the rule 5 draft. According to Joe Frisaro however, who covers Miami for MLB.com tweeted:
“Even though Will Stewart is unprotected and free to be claimed in the Rule 5 Draft, chances are he won't be, because he hasn't pitched above high A.”
The Marlins 40 man roster is now full and I don’t expect them to make any more moves which they would need to do if they want to participate in the rule 5 draft.