The Miami Marlins will be picking second in the 2014 MLB Draft, but they will also have multiple competitive balance selections and the 43rd pick in the draft as well, giving the team plenty of opportunities to stock up on team needs. But how will Miami go about the process of stocking up their depth to reinvigorate a drained but decent farm system? The Fish, under scouting director Stan Meek, have long established a certain approach to the MLB Draft. Even though the Fish switched leadership at the top from the deposed Larry Beinfest to his previous underlings Michael Hill and Dan Jennings, Meek remains entrenched as scouting director and probably holds a similar opinion as to whom to pursue in this year's draft.
Given that knowledge, we can look at the last ten years' worth of drafts and see just where the Marlins have traditionally gone and, based on that information, predict a possible direction for this season. In ten years (2004-2013), the Fish have made the following draft selections in the first round and compensatory rounds.
|2005||Chris Volstad||High School||Pitcher|
|2005||Aaron Thompson||High School||Pitcher|
|2005||Ryan Tucker||High School||Pitcher|
|2005||Sean West||High School||Pitcher|
|2007||Matt Dominguez||High School||Position|
|2008||Kyle Skipworth||High School||Position|
|2009||Chad James||High School||Pitcher|
|2010||Christian Yelich||High School||Position|
|2011||Jose Fernandez||High School||Pitcher|
|2013||Matt Krook*||High School||Pitcher|
*Matt Krook failed to sign with the Marlins
As a result of those picks, you can see the profile of Marlins players selected in the first round over the last 10 years.
This gives you a sense of what Miami has often chased in the first round. An overwhelming majority of the players selected in the last ten years have been prep pitches, which has always been the Marlins' expected MO. The Fish only selected five position players in the first round in the last ten years, although four occurred after the 2006 draft, as the team picked Matt Dominguez and Kyle Skipworth back-to-back in the upper parts of the first round and again took Colin Moran early in the draft last season.
But the history of Miami has resided in picking pitchers, often from prep classes. A whopping 11 picks in the last ten years were pitchers, including the vaunted (and failed) five starters from the 2005 crew. The most successful draft selection may very well have been a prep pitcher, as Jose Fernandez appears to be headed for greatness (Tommy John surgery willing). But that route is peppered with failure too, with names like Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, and Chad James littering the field.
What kind of prospects are available to Miami this season with the second pick? The consensus is that there are three elite pitching prospects and one high school hitter whom the Marlins will consider. The overall favorite has been Carlos Rodon, the North Carolina State lefty whom we previewed here. The last time Miami took a college starter, it was in 2012 with Oklahoma State lefty Andrew Heaney, and so far, that has worked out very well. Pitcher would best match Miami's historical preference, even if it does not match their current needs. Add in the Cuban-American factor and the ability to market Rodon and you have a strong contender for the selection based on the Marlins' various biases.
The most desired option historically is a high school pitcher, and Miami potentially has its pick between two options, lefty Brady Aiken or righty Tyler Kolek. There is industry word that the Marlins believe Kolek is top talent in the draft, particularly because he is a toolsy hard-thrower in the mold of past Marlins like Josh Beckett. He also has the south/midwest connection with the Marlins, being that he is from Texas (much like Beckett was) and Meek is from Oklahoma and is known to prefer prospects from the area. Aiken has had less buzz connecting him to Miami, but the mock drafts see him as a strong potential option.
Based on historical data alone, the most likely selection would have to be either Tyler Kolek or Brady Aiken. With Aiken's availability dependent on the Houston Astros' decision between him and Rodon, Kolek would be the historical choice given his profile. But Miami has to consider the prospects individually, beyond just their status as prep or college players.
What do the Marlins do in the later rounds? Here are the profiles for their second and third round picks in the last ten years.
It appears the Marlins often try to fill up on position players in the second and third rounds after they have had their fill on prep pitchers. Miami still has a tendency to lean towards prep options, as they turned to 10 high school position players in the last 10 years, the majority of whom were selected in the third round. Of course, the most successful of those players was a second-round pick by the name of Giancarlo Stanton, but the Fish have made other picks who might be percolating in the minors.
The team also went more often for college pitchers, particularly in the second round. The team drafted players like Adam Conley, Trevor Williams, Colby Suggs, and Rob Rasmussen recently. Do not be surprised if the Marlins turn to either high school position players to help fill the team's lack of depth in that department or college pitchers to contribute more quickly in the compensatory or second and third round picks. This is especially true if the team turns to a prep pitcher with the first round selection.