The Marlins are hoping to select an “impact” player in Monday’s amateur draft when they pick 13th overall. If they do, it will be their first first-rounder in six years to actually wear the uniform.
Not since Jose Fernandez in 2011 have the Marlins chosen a player with their first-round pick who made any significant impact with them. Of their past five first-rounders, none has so much thrown a pitch or swung a bat in a Marlins uniform.
Andrew Heaney from the draft class of 2012 was their last first-rounder to see any action with the Marlins. He appeared in seven games in 2014. Then he was traded.
It’s a troubling drought the Marlins hope to change as they go about rebuilding an organization from the ground up under new owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter.
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“The value of the pick is the impact is brings to the organization,” said Stan Meek, Marlins vice president of scouting. “I think we’re just trying to find the most impact we can for this organization going through the process of building, whether it’s a high school guy or a college guy.”
Which player that will be remains to be seen. Meek didn’t offer any hints.
But one amateur scout with another organization said he believes the Marlins would be best served by drafting a quality college hitter, a player who could more quickly help a depleted lineup that has scored the fewest runs in the majors.
“If I’m them, I’m going to take the best available college bat,” said the scout, who spoke only under condition of anonymity. “There’s going to be enough of them. But you’re going to have to take them in the first round because they’re not going to be around after that.”
Yet another scout said the Marlins should go with the “best available” player, regardless of position.
“If we have a guy from the pitching standpoint that we believe exceeds the value of the hitter (on the draft board), I still believe we’ll do whatever we need to do (to take) the pitcher,” Meek said.
But Meek also acknowledged that the Marlins presently have a larger number of pitching prospects in their farm system than they do hitters. Four of the top five prospects in the Marlins’ farm system are pitchers, according to MLB Pipeline.
“I think, all things being equal, we do need to add some position players in the organization, impact position players,” Meek said. “We’ll be mindful of that as we go into this draft for sure.”
The Marlins have gone rogue with their first-round picks in a couple of recent drafts, taking players that weren’t projected first-rounders in mock drafts. Those include slugging first baseman Josh Naylor (2015) and Trevor Rogers (last year).
Other recent high picks were either traded or have yet to develop. Heaney, for example, is now starting for the Angels. Colin Moran, the Marlins’ first-round pick in 2013, was traded and now starts at third base for the Pirates. So it’s not like those picks were busts.
On the other hand, the Marlins have taken high school pitchers with three of their past four first-round picks — Rogers, Tyler Kolek (2014) and Braxton Garrett (2016) — none of whom have advanced past Single A. Kolek and Garrett were both derailed by Tommy John surgery and are trying to work their way back.
One scout said he believes the Marlins will draft “conservative” this time and not take any big risks.