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Selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of a Florida high school, right-handed pitching prospect James Marinan spent his first professional summer in the rookie-level Arizona League with the AZL Dodgers. In nine games (six starts), spanning 17 innings of work, Marinan finished 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA, and he allowed 14 hits and 14 walks, with 14 strikeouts.

A big (6’5″, 220 lbs.), young (DOB: October 10, 1998) righty, James Marinan is projectable at his ceiling as a back-end rotation arm, but it’ll take quite a bit of player development before he gets there. In my mind, he’s likely to wind up a high-leverage reliever with above-average raw arm strength, but it’d be wise to have him start to build innings and experience for at least the next few seasons. Below, you’ll find our full James Marinan scouting report, including game video from his debut season, tool grades, velocity notes, and projection breakdowns on the Los Angeles Dodgers prospect from our time seeing him in August in the AZL.

James Marinan, Los Angeles Dodgers — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: August 9; August 14

Fastball (70)
Straight four-seamer with some late run when thrown to arm side. Great downward plane on FB when thrown to lower third of the zone from 6’5″ frame. Some natural sink at times; inconsistent. Deceptive release; ball jumps to the plate. Struggles to consistently command upper velocity band down in the zone. Body can fly out of whack with arm lagging behind. Above-average raw arm strength; should improve with development. I ultimately believe he’ll show off a double-plus fastball as a high-leverage reliever dependent on mechanical improvements. Velocity: 88-92, T 93.

Curveball (55)
11-to-5 break; loose, with some sweeping action. Gets around the ball at times; will back up on him. Slurve-like right now, needs to decide if it’s a curve or a slider. Would do well to throw the pitch significantly harder. Good feel for depth, though, and good extension to get it glove side. If he stays on top of the ball and throws it harder, will have a shot for an above-average breaking ball that can miss some bats. Velocity: 76-78, T 79.

Changeup (40)
Relatively flat, straight change. Moderate arm-side run with little sink. Generally commanded to the bottom third of the zone. Life can improve some when down and off the plate arm-side. Struggles to keep speed deferential; sometimes throws it too hard and needs to develop more nuanced feel if he’s to use it. More of a show-me pitch right now; not enough life to be effective, especially vs. LHH. Velocity: 80-83, T 84.

Control/Command (50/45)
Very raw right now, struggles to maintain release point. Control ahead of command, both well below-average now with potential to reach average through mechanical refinement. Inconsistent command to glove side in particular; when he does get out there, lands off balance and pulls hard through to first base, significantly changing release point. Even when improved, command profile likely to point him to the bullpen long term.

Worked exclusively out of the stretch in my looks, even when starting. Sets closed off to the plate, lands hard and open, but with closed foot strike. Pushes forward through hip after some moderate twist to show his back at balance point. Downhill mechanics and plane with arm, but follows through hard to first base and very off balance, dragging arm along with him. High three-quarters release; variable release points with substantial difficulty in coordinating delivery right now. Lacks ability to consistently stay on line; moderate spine tilt, lots of head movement. Long term, mechanical issues may push him to the bullpen.

Very young, extremely raw but with encouraging arm strength. Big, strong frame; likely not much room to add weight, but can tighten up and mature into his frame with age, ending up a strong, physical pitcher. Lots of development to come; may significantly outplay or fall short of FV grades, as he’s among the more raw and inexperienced projects I saw this summer. High risk. Arm strength will give him a shot, though. Expect a high-leverage relief role in his long-term future, with shot to be a big league difference-maker if he can harness and develop his arsenal.

James Marinan Scouting Report — Los Angeles Dodgers — 2017 Game Video

James Marinan Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

James Marinan is a very, very raw pitcher right now with quite a few mechanical and delivery issues to sync up, but he throws hard and shows some feel for a breaking ball—exactly the kind of foundation you’d want to build upon with a teenage pitching prospect. He’s predominantly starting right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Los Angeles Dodgers keep Marinan in the rotation for at least the first few years of his minor league career. He’s a very big, strong, well-built kid who should continue to throw significantly harder as he irons out his delivery. To that end, Marinan must find a consistent landing spot straight on to the plate. That’ll help get his upper half in line as his upper half rotates through to the plate, help make his release point consistent on a downhill line, and give him a better shot to command the ball down in the zone. In turn, all that will play up his natural plane and raw pitch life, and likely give him a few more miles an hour on his fastball. That the Dodgers have him going exclusively from the stretch now is a pretty visible understanding of their need to simplify things and line him up.

Those mechanical changes are pretty standard for a high school pitching prospect, and even amid this long discussion it’s important to note James Marinan is advanced for his age with serious projectability. Ultimately, I strongly believe he’s destined for the bullpen as a power reliever type who — with that mechanical refinement — could show a consistent upper-90s fastball and a significantly harder, sharper breaking ball. The Dodgers have a ton of pitching prospects with rotation chops that are quickly coming through the organization, and that may allow them the luxury of developing Marinan into a legitimately scary late-inning relief arm thanks to his powerful foundation and raw tool set.

James Marinan Scouting Report — Future Projection

Smart money says the Los Angeles Dodgers will keep James Marinan developing as a starter for the next few years, if only to build out some experience through a lot of game innings. If he proves himself there, and he can seriously iron out mechanical/release point issues, maybe he’ll have a shot to remain in the rotation long-term by virtue of his tools and physical stature. I think that’s ultimately doubtful, but there is a shot his arm strength and projectability could conceivably get Marinan into the “start until he fails” club. More realistically, he’ll eventually transition fully into a late-inning bullpen role, where short stints and a year or two of refinement could push him into a high-leverage set-up gig in the big leagues.

For 2018, I’d expect to see James Marinan in the rotation at advanced rookie-level Ogden, and he’ll work from there up to full-season leagues and then the upper minors. It’s ultimately unimportant to guess where he’ll make the transition to relief, but somewhere in the High-A/Double-A area is probably about the point he’ll transition over — and then move quickly through the upper minors as a power reliever in a way similar to what we’ve seen from other former rotation arms in the High-A realm. Ultimately, I believe he has the power profile and arm strength to get a shot at being an impactful big league 7th/8th inning power reliever with the possibility of showing a mid- to upper-90s fastball. Along the way through the minors, he could eventually move pretty quickly and become a fringe prospect as a quick-moving power reliever in way similar to current Dodgers relief transition prospect Jordan Sheffield.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Outside shot at back-end rotation role with considerable development; far more likely to work in high-leverage relief role thanks to plus arm strength and iffy command profile (50)

MLB ETA: 2021


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census, the author of We Is Blaze, (obviously) a fan of minor league baseball, and an unlikely expert on the animated classic TV show King Of The Hill. For more on Bobby and the personal, human side of this site, follow him on Twitter and Facebook: @BobbyDeMuro.

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