The Miami Marlins followed a specific strategy and did not deviate on Day One of 2014 MLB draft. They opted for high upside, long term high school prospects rather than more polished college players who might be able to help the big club sooner.
1st Round, Tyler Kolek, RHP
With the second overall pick the Marlins shocked fans and analysts alike by passing on NC State ace Carlos Rodon to take the flame-throwing high school pitcher from Texas. While Kolek is most certainly a project, he is still one of the most talented players in the draft. With a fastball that can reach triple digits, a slider that projects to be an above average pitch, and a changeup he is still developing, Kolek has all the tools to develop into an elite starting pitcher. To tap into that ace potential Kolek needs to continue to develop those secondary pitches, and better command his explosive fastball.
Kolek will not be a fast mover through the system. This is a talent the Marlins will take their time with. I would expect after signing that Kolek will begin his career in Short-Season A with Batavia, or Low-A with Greensboro. The Marlins clearly love Kolek's potential, and if he reaches his ceiling the Marlins will be glad they took a chance on the kid with the hardest fastball in the draft.
Competitive Balance A, Blake Anderson, C
With the 36th overall pick Miami continued to surprise analysts by taking a player expected to go much later in the draft. That player is Mississippi high school catcher Blake Anderson. Anderson's best quality is his athleticism and tremendous defense behind the plate. He is also said to have an extremely strong throwing arm which adds to that defensive prowess. The MLB is in the midst of an era where quality catchers are hard to find, so the Marlins are taking the risk that Anderson's bat will develop enough to get that elite defense to the big leagues. His 6 feet 3 inch 185 pound frame suggests that he could fill out physically and further tap into the raw power that is already present.
The hit tool is still a question mark, and is the reason many projected him to go between the 3rd and 8th rounds. Anderson is another slow moving prospect that will take time to reach the big leagues. If the hit tool never develops he could be a guy who you never hear about again after draft day. I would also expect Anderson to start in short-season ball or even in the Gulf Coast League. With Saltlamacchia the current starter behind the plate the Marlins can afford to take their time with Anderson.
2nd Round, Justin Twine, SS
With the 43rd overall pick the Marlins stuck to the script and took Justin Twine, an athletic high school middle infielder from Texas. Twine is a freak athlete who also ran track and played football in high school. His great speed and athleticism but average to below average throwing arm projects him as either a second basemen or perhaps a center fielder. Initially, I speculated that the Marlins most likely viewed Twine as their shortstop or second baseman of the future, but upon reflection I think they view him as an elite athlete they could not pass up on no matter where he ends up on the diamond. His swing is a bit long currently, which hinders his hit tool. However, he does have good bat speed which will be showcased if he cleans up his swing making him shorter to the ball.
Like Kolek and Anderson, Twine will take some time to develop and will likely start in the lower rungs of the minor leagues.
The Marlins did not let pressure from ownership, fans, or analyst projection dictate their first day picks. It seems like their scouting department identified prospects they liked and targeted them no matter what.