The Miami Marlins will finally take advantage of their Competitive Balance round pick tonight, which they acquired last year in the Gaby Sanchez trade to Pittsburgh. This pick amounts to a late-first round selection, and could yield a very solid prospect.
Listed are some potential players.
Phillip Ervin, OF
Height: 5'10" Weight: 205 lbs.
Statistics: 241 PA, .337/.459/.597, 14 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR
The Marlins have expressed a strong interested in a college bat that can rise quickly through the minors. Phil Ervin could be the man for the job. Ervin succeeds not on explosive tools, but on a refined approach and quality hit tool. He's on the smaller side for an outfielder, and doesn't have the power of a Hunter Renfroe. He makes up for it with solid center field defense and a determined in-game mentality.
Hunter Harvey, RHP
School: Bandys HS
Height: 6'3" Weight: 175 lbs.
Statistics: 0.38 ERA, 54.2 IP, 116 SO, 17 BB
I can easily picture the Marlins targeting Hunter Harvey with the 35th selection, as he offers a nice combination of upside and signability. Unlike most high school players, Harvey doesn't want to use a college commitment as leverage to squeeze out a larger signing bonus. His stated desire is to sign and begin playing professional baseball. If his goal is to play in the majors, then this is a great decision for him. Development staff in the minors far outclass college instruction. Harvey offers a nice template to work with his, demonstrating excellent feel for three pitches. He is thin now, but he should fill in with time, adding more velocity to his current low-90s fastball.
Alex Balog, RHP
School: San Francisco
Height: 6'6" Weight: 225 lbs.
Statistics: 3.69 ERA, 85.1 IP, 63 SO, 30 BB
Alex Balog's scouting reports reads like a dream for a Competitive Balance round selection. He throws three above-average pitches, including a mid-90s fastball, slider, and curveball. He has an ideal size for a power right-hander. Perhaps the only blemish is the lack of a quality change-up. Yet, Balog has not dominated the competition as one might expect, leaving him ranked behind other college right-handers like Alex Gonzalez. Nevertheless, he should make for a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, eating plenty of innings.
Billy McKinney, OF
School: Plano West HS
Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 lbs.
Statistics: None available
Billy McKinney rates as a bottom of the first round talent that could just barely slip into the Competitive Balance round. He doesn't always receive the attention that he deserves because many of his tools don't excite scouts, but he uses all them to their utmost potential in game situations. McKinney's hit tool profiles as his strongest. It's a classic, smooth left-handed swing with explosive bat speed. A reasonable ceiling for him is an everyday corner outfielder that bats .300 in the majors. Of course, a ceiling means exactly what it sounds like. It's the best of many possible outcomes.
Tumbling First Rounders
I previously wrote about ten potential players the Marlins might draft sixth-overall, including names like Austin WIlson, Jonathan Crawford, and Sean Manaea. All three of them have seen their draft stock fall in the past months, to the point where they could reasonably be available when the Marlins use their Competitive Balance round pick.
Austin Wilson suffered from an elbow injury, and it has affected his performance this year. Evaluators have also become increasingly concerned about his tendency to swing-and-miss. Wilson's plus-plus power and arm strength haven't disappeared, however. He will need more time for development and instruction than the average college player, but his innate talent could be worth it.
Sean Manaea was talked about as a possible first overall selection by Houston back when he was dominating the Cape Cod League, but his spring has been racked by numerous injuries. Reports of large velocity drops are very worrying. I haven't seen Manaea pitch recently, so I can't make a strong judgment about his value.
Jonathan Crawford's season hasn't lived up to the enormous potential seen in his sophomore performance last year, so he is no longer seen as a middle-first round player. He uses a maximum-effort delivery, which produces great velocity on his fastball, but could lead to injury down the round. His lack of a strong third pitch may lead him to bullpen as well. Either way, he would be a steal with the 35th pick.