The 2008 draft was one the worst draft in the history of the Marlins' franchise. Not only did they miss on a couple of great players, but they also had multiple opportunities early in the draft. Looking at the players the Marlins drafted compared to other teams, the Marlin's should be embarrassed. The 2008 MLB amateur draft was a very talented draft, and the Marlins' bad picks have definitely hurt the current major league team. Let's look at who the Marlin's picked in the first couple of rounds, and which player's they should have picked instead.
Marlins' first pick, 1st Round #6 overall, Kyle Skipworth, California HS: With the sixth overall pick the Marlins selected high school catcher Kyle Skipworth. They later gave him a $3.2 million signing bonus. At the time, Skipworth was generally considered the best catching prospect in the draft. He was thought to become a lefty hitting solid offensive-minded catcher sort of similar to what Devin Mesoraco is for the Reds. Unfortunately, the Marlin’s haven't seen anything offensively from Skipworth since they drafted him.
In five minor league seasons, Skipworth has hit .219 with a .649 OPS. It’s amazing how quickly his prospect stock has fallen. Even though his defense has considerably improved since joining the Marlins organization, his offense is far behind where it should be. This year, I have studied Skipworth very carefully in his second straight year at Double-A Jacksonville. Honestly, I haven’t seen anything to convince me that he can be a major league catcher. He is still striking out over 30% of the time, and he’s hitting .202. From what I’ve heard, Skipworth is a likeable guy that everyone wants on their team. I’m sure that everyone in the Marlins’ organization is hoping Skipworth can put things together, if anything, because they are desperate for an above-average catcher.
It's too early to label Skipworth a bust, but he needs to show improvement in order to stay relevant in the Marlin's future plans. Instead of Skipworth, the Marlins could have taken Yonder Alonso (who went 7th), Jemile Weeks (12th) or Brett Lawrie (16th) among others. Skipworth didn't seem like a terrible pick at the time, but if the Marlins had been smarter, chances are they would have taken a different player. Skipworth is still only twenty-two, but he really needs to show a better approach at the plate if he wants to stay in the Miami organization.
Marlins' second pick, 2nd Round #52 overall, Brad Hand, Minnesota HS: So far, Brad Hand has been the most successful athlete of the player’s the Marlins took in this draft. When the Marlin’s drafted him they were hoping to get a young lefty who with the right coaching, could turn into a #2 starter. After all, Hand was throwing a fastball up to 94 MPH and an above-average power curveball. The Marlin’s made a nice pick, drafting Hand despite him not facing high levels of competition against other Minnesota high schools. However, other talented players that went after Hand in the second round include Robbie Ross, Tyson Ross, Charlie Blackmon, and Tyler Chatwood.
Despite throwing a fastball that now tops out at 90 MPH, Hand reached the majors last year at the age of twenty-one. In 2011, Hand wasn’t very good for the Marlins, but they were desperate for pitching help, and he ended up starting twelve games. Hand has always been a pitcher that has exceeded his peripherals. Take 2012 for example. Hand is currently sporting a 3.58 ERA, but he has a 4.00 SIERA and a 5.43 FIP. The Marlins are hoping that Hand can become a solid back-end starter for years to come. Luckily, this is very probable, especially compared to other pitching prospects. Hand has the build and work ethic required to become an innings-eating workhorse. While the Marlins might not have though that’s what Hand was when they drafted him, that’s still a pretty favorable outcome for a second-rounder.
Marlins' third pick, 3rd Round #83 overall, Edgar Olmos California HS: Olmos is a very tall (6’5"), very lean left-handed pitcher. Olmos was the Marlin’s second straight draft pick who throws from the left side in the upper 80’s. Cost must have had a lot to do with this pick. The Marlins were trying to save a little bit of money, so they drafted a player that they knew would be easy to sign. Olmos ended up signing for $478,000, a reasonable price for a third-rounder. Unfortunately, the Marlin’s just missed on this pick. Other players drafted after Olmos in the third round include Zach Stewart, Danny Espinosa, Brent Morel, and Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel, for instance, signed for less than Olmos and is now the best closer in baseball.
This year, Olmos finally reached Double-A after only one 2011 start in High-A. Unfortunately, in Olmos’ Double-A debut, he walked eight hitters in four innings. The Marlins had seen enough of Olmos in AA, so they sent him back to Jupiter (High-A) right after his start. I will be surprised if the Marlin’s don’t regret picking Olmos. They should have seen the other talented players still available, and picked one, even if it meant giving them more money. Olmos still has a chance to become a major league pitcher, but it is dwindling as we speak.
Other notable players the Marlin’s drafted later on include Dan Jennings (9th round), Elih Villanueva (27th round), and Mikie Mahtook (39th round). If the Marlin’s had signed Mahtook, who was drafted by the Rays 31st overall last June, the front office would have looked like geniuses. This was a pretty embarrassing draft for the Marlins. The only thing positive I can say about this draft is that it won’t happen again. The new Marlins aren’t as payroll-orientated and the new front office has devoted more time to scouting and player development. Hopefully, the Amateur Draft coming up this June will be everything we can hope it will be.