News this week that left-handed pitcher Trevor Rogers made his Marlins debut — 11 months after being drafted — was a reminder of the organization’s interesting, and often unlucky, recent history with first-round draft picks.
Of the 10 players selected by Miami in the first round of past 10 MLB amateur drafts, none are with the Marlins’ big club or in the upper levels of the Marlins’ system — the byproduct of tragedy (Jose Fernandez), trades (Christian Yelich, Andrew Heaney, Colin Moran, Josh Naylor), busts (Kyle Skipworth, Chad James) and health problems (Tyler Kolek, Braxton Garrett).
A recap of each one:
2008: Catcher Kyle Skipworth. The sixth pick — selected between Buster Posey and Yonder Alonso — was the quintessential bust. Batted .211 in nine minor league seasons before his career ended after 2016. Had only three major league at-bats.
2009: Pitcher Chad James. The right-hander, selected 18th overall, went 22-44 with a 4.51 ERA in six minor-league seasons, his career ending after 2015. One pick later, the St. Louis Cardinals chose Shelby Miller, who’s a now injured starter for the Diamondbacks with a 37-49 career record and 3.67 ERA.
2010: Outfielder Christian Yelich. An excellent pick, of course. Selected 23rd overall and batted .290 with 293 RBI in five seasons with the Marlins before his offseason trade to Milwaukee, where he’s hitting .283 with five homers and 19 RBI.
2011: Pitcher Jose Fernandez. The best draft pick in Marlins history, selected 14th overall, dominated in his brief career (38-17, 2.58 ERA) before a fatal boating accident in September 2016.
2012: Pitcher Andrew Heaney. The ninth overall pick was dealt to the Dodgers and then flipped to the Angels in the December 2014 trade that brought Dee Gordon to Miami. The lefty Heaney is 9-13 with a 4.26 ERA in his big league career, including 2-3 with a 3.35 ERA for the Angels this season.
2013: Third baseman Colin Moran. The sixth overall pick was sent to Houston in the 2014 Jarred Cosart deal and has hit .255 in 58 big league games. He’s getting playing time for Pittsburgh this year and hitting .267 with four homers and 22 RBI.
2014: Pitcher Tyler Kolek. Selected out of a Texas high school, Kolek is 4-13 with a 5.23 ERA since being drafted second overall. He missed 2016 and most of 2017 after Tommy John surgery and hasn’t pitched this season because of shoulder tendinitis.
Since 2015, he has pitched only 3 2/3 innings, allowing 12 runs. If he doesn’t regain his health, he would be the biggest draft bust in Marlins history.
2015: First baseman Josh Naylor. The Marlins likely will regret acquiring Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero for Naylor, who’s hitting .337 with nine homers and 41 RBI in Double A of the Padres’ system.
Guerrero (0-2, 4.64 ERA with the Marlins) has a live arm, but Naylor — in the minors — is showing signs of being the slugging first baseman the Marlins envisioned when they drafted him. Cashner was a disaster in his half season with the Marlins, going 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA in 11 starts in 2016.
2016: Pitcher Braxton Garrett. Selected seventh overall in 2016, Garrett remains out after Tommy John surgery nearly a year ago, just four games into his career. The lefty is still a top prospect if he rebounds from Tommy John.
2017: Rogers. The lefty, picked 13th in 2017 out of Carlsbad High in New Mexico, missed last season with a forearm injury and finally debuted this week, allowing three runs in three innings for Class A Greensboro.
Baseball America has a piece here about how his first start went. Per the magazine, “he used all three pitches in his arsenal, starting with a fastball that sat between 92-94 mph and touched 95 in his first two innings before dipping to 88-92 mph in his final frame. He complemented his fastball with a sharp slider in the low 80s and an inconsistent changeup in the upper 80s. He struck out four hitters with his fastball and added a fifth on a slider.”
▪ The Marlins might need to give serious thought to promoting outfielder Austin Dean in the coming weeks. He began the season hitting .420 with three homers and 14 RBI in 22 games for Class AA Jacksonville, and is now hitting .317 with 2 homers and 16 RBI in 23 games for Triple A New Orleans.
The 24-year-old was a fourth round pick in 2014 out of Spring, Texas.
▪ Right-hander Sandy Alcantara, acquired in the Marcell Ozuna trade with St. Louis, continues to pitch pretty well at Triple A New Orleans, with a 2-1 record and 3.71 ERA in nine starts. Batters are hitting .237 off him and he has 40 strikeouts in 53 innings.
▪ Right-hander Pablo Lopez, the Marlins’ No. 23 prospect, continues to put up remarkable numbers at Double A Jacksonville: Just one run allowed in 37.2 innings, with 24 hits relinquished, seven walks and 42 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .174 off him.
His 0.24 ERA is the lowest among qualified minor league starters.
But Lopez is just 1-2 because of poor run support.
Lopez has been the best of four prospects acquired in last summer’s David Phelps trade with Seattle, but another player acquired in that trade — reliever Lukas Schiraldi — also has been exceptional, with a 2-0 record, seven saves (in eight chances) and a 0.48 ERA in 18 2/3 innings in Class A Jupiter. He has 21 strikeouts and batters are hitting .154 off him.
As for the other two players acquired in that deal, outfielder Brayan Hernandez — considered the most talented of those four Seattle prospects at the time of the trade — hasn’t played in a game this season because of an injury and pitcher Brandon Miller is 1-3, 6.11 at Greensboro.
Phelps, incidentally, is out for the season with sustaining a serious elbow injury for Seattle in March.