The Marlins are selecting catchers Payton Henry and Nick Fortes to the big league roster, general manager Kim Ng told reporters (including Christina de Nicola of MLB.com). Jorge Alfaro is being placed on the 10-day injured list due to a left calf strain, while infielder Isan Díaz was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville. To clear space on the 40-man roster, Miami transferred starter Pablo López and third baseman Brian Anderson from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
Henry was a sixth-round pick of the Brewers in 2016 coming out of a Utah high school. The right-handed hitting backstop has moved progressively up the minor league ladder in the years since. He’s hitting for a decent amount of power but struggled with strikeouts, perhaps not especially surprising for a player coming from a nontraditional baseball background.
Miami acquired Henry from the Brewers at the trade deadline in a deal that sent reliever John Curtiss to Milwaukee. Baseball America slotted the 24-year-old as the #29 prospect in the Marlins’ system after the deal, calling him a potential glove-first backup with some power potential. Henry has picked up his first high minors experience this season, hitting .315/.392/.405 over 125 Double-A plate appearances and posting a .223/.318/.377 mark after being bumped up to Triple-A.
Like Henry, Fortes is coming up for his major league debut. He’s also a righty-swinging backstop whom the Fish selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft out of Ole Miss. Fortes has also garnered his first high minors action this year, posting a .251/.338/.359 line over 226 trips to the plate in Double-A and hitting .237/.322/.378 in 152 plate appearances with Jacksonville. Fortes didn’t appear on Miami’s top 30 prospects at BA, but Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs wrote in April that the 24-year-old’s defense and bat-to-ball skills give him a chance to be a capable reserve catcher.
Each of Henry and Fortes would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter if not selected to the 40-man roster. Miami will get an early look at both players over the season’s final couple weeks. The Marlins are generally expected to move on from Alfaro — who will be eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason — and seek outside help behind the plate this winter. Neither Henry nor Fortes is the caliber of prospect who would likely deter the front office from seeking an external upgrade, but strong showings from one or both could give them an inside track at landing a season-opening reserve job in 2022.
López’s IL transfer is merely a procedural move. He’s already been on the IL for more than sixty days, so he’s eligible to return when first healthy. Ng told reporters (including de Nicola) that López will throw to batters tomorrow. The team still hopes he’ll be able to make it back this season. Anderson was already known to be out for the rest of the year after undergoing shoulder surgery.