Miami Marlins Rule 5 Pick Braulio Lara and His Killer Fastball

Mike Ehrmann

The Miami Marlins' recent Rule 5 Draft pick Braulio Lara has a deadly fastball that can touch up to 100 MPH.

The Miami Marlins were probably thrilled when they realized Braulio Lara was still available with the 36th overall pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft. Lara's fastball has amazing velocity, having reached 100 MPH in the Dominican Winter League, but he struggles mightily with control. Lara is not a pitcher that is even close to being ready for the majors, but the Marlins will have to keep him in the majors or offer him back to Tampa Bay.

Braulio Lara was born in Bani, Dominican Republic, the same town that produced Edwar Cabrera and Miguel Tejada, among others. At the age of nineteen, Lara played in his first professional minor league games in the United States. In sixty-six innings with the Rays rookie-ball team, Lara posted a 2.18 ERA and struck out 7.91 batters per nine innings. The next season, 2011, Lara was promoted to Bowling Green of the Midwest League. There, in 120 innings, Lara struggled with his control, posting a 4.11 BB/9.

Aside from his fastball, Lara throws a changeup, a curve, and a slider, none of which project to be above-average major league pitches. The fastball does not have amazing movement but sits in the mid to upper 90's. The curveball is pretty average and sits in the low 80's. His frame is not physically imposing, but he definitely looks like a talented pitcher. His offspeed pitchers are inconsistent and ineffective. If Lara cannot control and master at least one pitch other than his fastball, he is never going to have any business being in the majors.

In 2012, Braulio Lara threw 112 innings at High-A Charlotte in the Florida State League. He posted 5.71 ERA and had a career-high 61.6 LOB%. In one memorable game in late April, Lara's fastball provided a lot of trouble for the Marlins' affiliate High-A Jupiter, as he had five strikeouts, four of them via his fastball. However, in two matchups with the top hitting prospect in the Miami system, Christian Yelich, Yelich got the best of Lara, hitting a single and later a home run.

The optimal situation for Lara would be with a team that could let him develop his command in Double-A this season and help him improve his offspeed pitches. However, if the Marlins want to keep Lara, he will need to pitch in the major league bullpen. This makes the chances of Lara sticking with Miami highly unlikely. However, it is possible that the Marlins front office decides they want to keep Lara and sticks him in the bullpen with mop-up duty. Braulio Lara is going to make a tough decision for Marlins management. Lara is not ready for the majors, but it is never easy to let such a talented player just walk away.

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