Connor Scott played shortstop in little league and one of his idols was Derek Jeter.
Scott moved to the outfield as he got older but never stopped admiring him.
On Monday night, soon after he heard the Marlins had drafted him with the 13th pick in the first round, Scott got to speak to his boyhood idol.
“It was kind of eye-opening,” Scott said. “Derek Jeter, with the reputation he has being such a great leader and being able to go play for him.”
Jeter called Scott, who was watching the draft with friends and family at his home in Tampa, to congratulate him.
The Miami Herald confirmed that the Marlins have reached an agreement to sign Scott, their first-round pick out of Plant High in Tampa to a deal pending a physical. Scott had also committed to the University of Florida.
“[The Marlins] have a great staff, and I’m really looking forward to being on the rebuild of this franchise and winning a lot more games and bringing a World Series back to Florida,” Scott said. “My parents are big on education, but they know it’s a lifelong dream to play professional baseball.”
The Marlins envision Scott, a left-handed hitter who hit .526 with five home runs and 19 RBI for Plant his senior year, as primarily a center fielder. Scott coincidentally compared himself to former Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich during an interview with the media Tuesday.
The Marlins have made it a point early in this year’s draft to target athletic players who can make a long-term impact.
After choosing Scott, the Marlins kept going for players who could play up the middle taking by taking California high school shortstop Osiris Johnson in Round 2 (53rd overall) and catcher Will Banfield out of Brookwood High in Georgia with their competitive balance Round B choice (69th overall).
“When you have premium athletes like Scott and Johnson and Banfield behind the plate, over time you find out these premium athletes make adjustments much quicker,” said Gary Denbo, Marlins vice president of player development and scouting. “When their timing is not necessarily right, they have the ability to make up for it with their athleticism. With the speed these three possess, that’s something you can’t teach.”
BIG SHOES TO FILL
His second cousin is Jimmy Rollins. His school produced Hall of Famer Willie Stargell and Dontrelle Willis.
So how good of a shortstop could Johnson become?
Johnson, a graduate of Encinal High in Alameda, California, and a Cal State Fullerton signee, worked with Rollins, a longtime nemesis of the Marlins in the 2000s who hit .292 during his career against the Fish, throughout his high school career. Johnson went from hitting .218 his freshman year to hitting .535 with six home runs his senior year and vastly improving his defensive skill.
“It’s always good to have somebody in the family that has been through those types of experiences that can advise the player,” Denbo said. “Between their support systems at home and our player development system, which I expect to be the highest level in the game, we feel like the chances for these players to develop and contribute and the major league level are very good for us.”
Denbo loves the defensive promise and leadership potential of Banfield, a Vanderbilt commit.
“His throwing arm was among the best in the draft this year for catchers around the plate,” Denbo said. “His defensive ability we felt was one of the best of any catcher in the draft this year.”
After taking three high school players on Monday, the Marlins used seven of their eight picks Tuesday to draft college players. The Marlins selected outfielder Tristan Pompey from the University of Kentucky in the third round. Pompey totaled 96 hits this past season, which ranked second in the nation.
The rest of the Marlins' picks on day two were University of Mississippi catcher Nick Fortes (fourth round), Mercyhurst College right-handed pitcher Chris Vallimont (fifth), catcher Cameron Barstad from Junipero Serra High in California (sixth) and closed out the final four rounds with right-handed pitchers - Texas A&M's Cason Sherrod (seventh), Arkansas State's Peyton Culbertson (eighth), Alabama's Jake Walters (ninth) and Purdue's Tanner Andrews (10th).
The Marlins announced the list of alumni who will be attending their 25th anniversary festivities Friday through Sunday at Marlins Park. The alumni will be introduced as part of a pregame ceremony at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday and will be available to fans at stations throughout the park for autographs and selfies all weekend.
The list will include prominent members of both the 1997 and 2003 World Series championship teams as well as the 1993 inaugural season. Participating in the festivities will be Jeff Conine, Charles Johnson, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo, Livan Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Juan Pierre, Alex Fernandez, Charlie Hough, Orestes Destrade, Benito Santiago, Alex Arias, original Marlins manager Rene Lachemann, Kurt Abbott, Antonio Alfonseca, Cliff Floyd, Fredi Gonzalez, Todd Hollandsworth, Gaby Sanchez, Preston Wilson, Mike Jacobs, Ed Lucas, Carl Pavano and Placido Polanco.
Wednesday: Miami Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-3, 6.10 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty (2-1, 2.62), 8:15 p.m., Busch Stadium.
Thursday: Marlins RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-3, 4.29) vs. Cardinals RHP Miles Mikolas (6-1, 2.49), 1:15 p.m., Busch Stadium.