A trip to New Orleans can be a whole lot of fun. But for a professional scout, it's a time to check in on the top team in the Miami Marlins' farm system.
Most of the talent in the organization resides at the lower levels, with just three of the Marlins' Top 20 Prospects playing for the Zephyrs: lefty reliever Dan Jennings (No. 20), who's seen time in the big leagues, outfielder Kevin Mattison (No. 11) and Matt Dominguez (No. 2), the third baseman now firmly blocked by Hanley Ramirez.
Dominguez is still ranked in the overall Top 100 (at No. 82), but he may not be there for that much longer.
The being stuck part isn't in his control and doesn't impact his prospect standing. And he is just 22 years old playing in Triple-A.
What he does with the bat, however, does have an impact.
That's been the issue with Dominguez since the Marlins drafted him in the first round in 2007. So far this year, Dominguez has hit .231 with three homers and 21 RBIs. He has a .628 OPS -- not exactly what you want from a corner infielder. It's seemed that every time Dominguez starts to appear to figure things out offensively, he either takes a step back or gets hurt.
"[Dominguez] won't profile power-wise for a third baseman," said a scout who saw him in New Orleans recently. "Maybe he'll hit. Could he play every day for a club that mashes behind the plate and at second base? Yes, but he probably won't ever provide the power production at third."
The glove, however, has never been in question.
"He can flat play third base," the scout said.
Right-hander Tom Koehler isn't in the Top 20, but this scout was intrigued by what he saw. Koehler's been a starter in the Minors since being an 18th-round Draft pick out of SUNY-Stony Brook in 2008. He had a huge year in Double-A in 2010, but finished with a 4.97 ERA last season with New Orleans. He's fared much better this year with the Zephyrs, posting a 3.79 ERA over his seven starts.
Most have seen Koehler as a back-of-the-rotation type, and the 25-year-old might still have that future, especially if he can get back to his 2010 walk rate. But the scout saw more.
"He could be a fifth starter, but I think he could be a really good seventh-inning guy," the scout said. "He has a 60 curve (on the scouting scale of 20-80). Everything would play up. There's some Aaron Crow in him coming out of the bullpen."