*MLB Prospect Watch will be recapping each farm system as a whole, focusing on particular players who did something noteworthy this season. For the next 30 (business) days, we will be featuring one organization per day.
9/9 - Atlanta Braves
Biggest Step Fowrard: Austin Barnes, C/2B/3B: Those additional slashes alone represent a step forward for Barnes, who increased his versatility this season by getting out from behind the plate and adding two infield positions to his resume. Getting out of the Florida State League (where he returned to begin the season thanks to an organizational log jam at catcher) allowed his power potential to blossom as well now that he was no longer playing half of his home games at the cavernous Roger Dean Stadium. Barnes doesn't have any stand out tools, but he can do a lot of things well, and if he can play three positions, it just increases his potential value. He also controls the strike zone extremely well, walking more than he struck out.
Take a Step Back: Justin Twine, SS: It's hard to get too down on an 18-year-old who was starting his senior year of high school this time last year, but the Marlins second round pick had a rough adjustment to professional baseball. During his stint in the GCL, however, he looked uncomfortable both at the plate and out at shortstop.
Ready for the Majors: Andrew Heaney, LHP: Forget the brief stint in the majors that didn't go as planned. Heaney spent 2014 continuing the rapid assent to the majors that be began last year and has handled just about everything the Marlins have thrown at him, despite their propensity for rushing prospects. No, Heaney's handful of major league starts weren't great, but then he returned to Triple-A (where he should have been anyway) and did just fine. He'll be in the discussion for the Marlins rotation next spring, and at the very least, should be back in the majors for good after the Super-Two deadline next June.
Statistical King: Justin Nicolino, LHP: Perhaps no prospect in the Marlins system performed better in 2014 than did Nicolino, backing up a strong season last year with an even better year this year. He rebounded from his struggles in Double-A after a mid-year promotion in 2013 to master the Southern League to the tune of a 2.85 ERA. But there is one major concern for the lefty - a strike out rate that dipped all the way down to 4.3 K/9 on the season. Nicolino has never missed many bats, but this drop takes him out of the control/command range and into the "unsustainable" range. Simply put, no one in the majors gets away with allowing that many balls in play.
Newest Addition: Tyler Kolek, RHP: We didn't get much of a look at Kolek as a professional, as the Marlins eased him to things in the Gulf Coast League, no more than four innings at a time. What we got was about what we expected when he was selected second overall - a monster fastball that lacks present command, thus a number of free passes, and secondary stuff that has potential but needs refinement. He's got all the talent in the world, but he's going to need his time in the minors.