High school pitcher Braxton Garrett has been on the Marlins’ radar since last summer.
Apparently impressed with what they saw over the past year, the Marlins took the left-handed pitcher from Florence, Alabama, with the seventh pick of the MLB first-year player draft on Thursday night.
Garrett is the third high school pitcher taken by Miami in the past six drafts. The Marlins took Tyler Kolek out of Shepherd, Texas, with the second overall pick two years ago.
The Marlins drafted Jose Fernandez out of Tampa’s Alonso High with the 14th pick in 2011.
“I think he’s probably the most polished high school kids that we’ve ever taken,” said Stan Meek, Miami’s vice president of scouting. “He’s a left-hander who already has pitches in place. … We like the makeup, he’s an athlete. Everything we saw about him we liked. He’s a great competitor.”
There seems to be a lot to like about Garrett, whom scouts say has one of the best curveballs of any high school pitcher in the country.
Vanderbilt University offered him a scholarship before his junior year at Florence High.
As a senior, Garrett — who is committed to play for the Commodores — struck out 131 in just over 65 innings.
Both Kolek and Hernandez signed with the Marlins not long after the draft.
“I’m not sure right now, I’m just living in the moment right now enjoying this with my family and friends,” Garrett said of having to make the decision to sign with the Marlins or play at Vanderbilt.
“We’ll talk about that when the time comes. It’s an exciting, up-and-coming organization. I’m glad the Marlins drafted me.”
Said Meek: “I’m sure it will be a process as it always is. But he wants to play, has a real desire to be a major-league player.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Ichiro Suzuki’s run toward one of baseball’s great milestones continued in the heartland as he rattled off five hits in the first two games of Miami’s series in Minnesota.
With five hits going into Thursday’s final game of the series, Ichiro was 29 hits shy of 3,000 in his major-league career.
The 42-year-old outfielder opened the series with two hits and went 3 for 5 in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss.
Ichiro came into Thursday’s game — which he led off with a single — batting .330.
“He’s amazing and it’s probably time to stop talking about age with him,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said.
“He just keeps doing it so we shouldn’t talk about his age. He’s in great shape, is a good defender, can steal a bag when you need it and still can hit. He’s still a good player.”
▪ Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen wasn’t very happy with his performance Wednesday as he fell behind 4-0 before the Marlins picked things up and eventually took a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning.
Chen gave up the game-tying homer to Byung Ho Park in the bottom of the sixth and left soon afterward.
Miami reliever Nick Wittgren gave up two runs in the seventh, leading to the Marlins’ fourth loss in their previous five games.
“I didn’t do a good job pitching and my teammates gave me a lot of support,” Chen said through a translator. “I didn’t help them get the win. The problem was me.”
Down 7-5, Miami had one last gasp in the ninth when Marcell Ozuna singled with two outs then took second with Giancarlo Stanton -- who had two hits previously -- at bat.
Stanton, who had his first two-hit game since May 13, struck out swinging as Brandon Kintzler recorded his first big-league save.
▪ Minnesota started Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday — Miami’s all-time leader in wins and strikeouts among other things. Nolasco’s final pitch was a single to Ichiro with two outs.
The Twins then rolled out three relief pitchers (Michael Tonkin, Buddy Boshers and Trevor May) to get the final out.
Counting Nolasco, the Twins had four pitchers throw six pitches to end that inning.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Mattingly said. “You want to match up best you can.”
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (2-3, 4.37 ERA) at Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (3-5, 4.73), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Fernandez (9-2, 2.29) at Diamondbacks TBA, 10:10 p.m., Chase Field.