Barry Jackson

Former general manager expresses concern about Marlins' first-round pick

Connor Scott (24) while playing for Padres Scout Team/Scorpions based out of Altamonte Springs, Florida during the WWBA World Championship at the Roger Dean Complex on October 21, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida.  Connor Scott is a outfielder / pitcher from Tampa, Florida who attends Plant High School.  (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)
Connor Scott (24) while playing for Padres Scout Team/Scorpions based out of Altamonte Springs, Florida during the WWBA World Championship at the Roger Dean Complex on October 21, 2017 in Jupiter, Florida. Connor Scott is a outfielder / pitcher from Tampa, Florida who attends Plant High School. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP) AP

The Marlins’ selection of Tampa prep outfielder Connor Scott with the 13th overall pick in the amateur draft elicited some lively debate on the MLB Network set on Monday night.

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo said Scott “reminds some people of a Christian Yelich type, and the Marlins had good success with Yelich.... Maybe they feel like he can be another that type of player.”

But former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, now an MLB Network analyst, said: “Not to argue, but I will. The swing path and hands on Yelich were so far advanced from this young man. The one thing you have to do when you take a kid like this is be patient. Just give him an opportunity to work his way though that issue.”

That issue, O’Dowd said, is this: “He’s got a little bit of length in his swing. The major concern I’ve got I see is he’s got a little bit of hand twitch right before he goes to fire and trigger. When he’s in rhythm with his swing, the ball jumps off the bat. But he is going to have to correct that when he gets into pro ball and he’s also going to have to correct some of his running strides. You’ve got to hit at the major league level and you’ve got to hit consistently. I believe he can correct that but it’s something that’s very very noticeable.

“When they get him into the development system, they’re going to have to attack that right away…. I really love this guy’s athleticism. He does profile in center field.”

O’Dowd was asked if he’s seen another player who had a hitch like that.

He mentioned Ian Stewart, who was a first-round pick out of a California high school in 2003 but hit only .229 with 61 homers and 211 RBI during a disappointing career that spanned parts or all of seven seasons and ended in 2014.

“Ultimately, as his career went along, he had tremendous difficulties clearing that little hand twitch to be able to get to the raw power,” O’Dowd said.

Hall of Famer Jim Thome, an MLB Network analyst, said Scott “has a real good understanding of the strike zone. A big kid [at 6-4]. My [comparison] to him is Bradley Zimmer. I love the athletic ability. He’s a 70-plus runner, very polished. Sky is the limit if this kid turns out to be like Bradley Zimmer.” Zimmer, 25, in his second season with the Cleveland Indians, has hit .237, with 10 homers and 48 RBI in 135 big-league games.

MLB Network studio host Greg Amsinger said Scott “might be the best player in this draft class. Covers a lot of ground in center field.”

BOWERS ADDRESSES ISSUES

Chip Bowers, the Marlins’ new president of business operations, addressed a bunch of South Florida businesspeople and notables – including former UM president Donna Shalala – on Monday in a speech at the Tribune Pinecrest luncheon at Anacapri restaurant in Pinecrest.

Bowers, energetic and articulate, can certainly command a room.

Among the notable points to emerge:

He has a bunch of ideas to enhance the ballpark experience. “Food and beverage will get better,” he said. “Everything we do has to be impactful. I like localization of the food experience. We need the best Cuban place in town [at the ballpark]. We need the best burger place in town.”

The Marlins plan to start scheduling more youth and student tournaments at Marlins Park so that grade-school students can experience playing there and tour the park. “We need to build the right relationships with parents and young people,” Bowers said.

Already, the Marlins – in a program with JP Morgan – are giving two complementary vouchers to select games to Dade/Broward students with perfect attendance.

Bowers spoke of eventually having a disc jockey at games to reflect the Miami vibe and to have the atmosphere feel “a little more like than NBA game…. We need to create an environment where people can be themselves.”

He said the Marlins “can do a better job of embracing the Latin community” and reaching 18 to 35 year olds with individual game tickets and can create a “better experience with premium [seating],” noting those high-end seats “need to look and feel premium.”

He said he and the Marlins “want to open the roof more. Everywhere else is playing in 80 degrees. We should too. When it’s 85, 86, 87 with high humidity, we have the luxury of closing the roof.”

He said the Marlins have hired executives from the NBA, Amazon and Merrill Lynch, among others, who will bring a fresh perspective.

Bowers, who left his job as the Golden State Warriors’ chief marketing officer to join the Marlins, said: “Why leave [the Warriors]? It’s the most magicial ride anyone in our career would love to be a part of.... When you get a call from [Marlins owner/CEO] Derek Jeter, you listen. The guy’s a winner. I met Derek and… was blown away by Derek Jeter the man.”

He mentioned a lot about the Warriors – including how their young players won Las Vegas summer league titles before winning championships – and said: “We are going to build the exact same culture here.” He said “mediocrity will not be accepted in this organization.”

Bowers made clear he isn’t involved with player procurement but said “our Double A and Triple A teams have some of the best pitching in baseball.” He also said this past offseason, “we could have tried to invest in [big league] pitching. [But] if we had done that, we couldn’t have sustained the payroll.”

In a separate conversation, he said nothing is imminent with regard to naming rights to Marlins Park – he and the owners are still surveying the market – and said “everyone would like” for the UM-FIU 2019 football game to be at Marlins Park, though he added that FIU hasn’t informed the Marlins of a final decision.

FIU gets to pick the venue for that game but FIU’s stadium is off the table, according to UM – which leaves Marlins Park and Hard Rock Stadium as the logical options.

Bowers also expressed interest in luring boxing matches and World Wrestling Entertainment events to Marlins Park to make it a “365 day a year venue.”

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