The Miami Marlins are selecting second in the 2014 MLB Draft, and the mock drafts have already begun speculating about how the top selections will go down. With Miami in such a prominent spot, what they do with their pick may determine what happens down the line in the draft, so tracking the team's potential options is a valuable endeavor for us Fish fans and other teams.
ESPN Insider writer and well-respected prospect guru Keith Law released his first mock draft of the year (Insider subscription required but recommended), and he has the Fish selecting a name that was not the most likely name heading into the draft.
The general feel for this draft is that the top prospects available are pitchers in Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, and Carlos Rodon. Alex Jackson's upside at the plate is impressive, and it makes him profile as the best hitter in the draft class. Jackson may be comparable to the three pitchers in value at this draft pick level, but what would push Miami to select him is their interest in position players. While the Fish have built enviable pitching depth, led by 2012 first-round draft pick Andrew Heaney, the organization is barren behind 2013 first-rounder Colin Moran on the position player side. Selecting Jackson may boost the team's position player talent while remaining a respectable choice with the other pitchers available.
Jackson may be moved to the corner outfield rather than remain in his catching position due to defensive concerns. But there appear to be no worries that his bat can hold up with a shift down the spectrum. A move like this for a top-notch offensive player would mirror the paths of other top prospects like Bryce Harper and Wil Myers.
Law brings up the fact that Miami has a lot of money to dole out this year, with both a competitive balance selection and a compensatory pick int he same round from the Matt Krook situation from last year. With all that bonus draft money available, the Fish could opt to go for the cheapest of the three remaining options to them and reinvest those funds later in the draft on players slipping due to bonus demands. it would involve Miami actually ponying up more than the slot value for draft picks, something that they have been reluctant to do in the past, but it could be worth a gamble and a good use of their funds.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all of your 2014 MLB Draft coverage needs!