Miami Marlins 2011 Draft Picks: Where are they now?

Eliot J. Schechter

In honor of Sports Illustrated's yearly issue that looks back at where superstars from the past are today, I decided to examine what has happened to various Marlins 2011 draft picks.

First Round, 14th Overall: Jose Fernandez

The Marlins 2011 draft could be looked at as a complete bust if it weren't for Jose Fernandez. Jose Fernandez saved this Marlins draft. As the only player the Marlins drafted who has already played in a Major League game, Fernandez's 7.7 career WAR is light years ahead of every other player in the entire draft (The next closest is Sonny Gray at 2.9). It's not all that common that only one pick can determine whether or not a draft was successful, but Fernandez certainly makes his case. Of course, Fernandez is now out for the season with Tommy John surgery and whether or not he will be able to return to his previous form remains to be seen. The one thing that is for certain is that the Marlins could not have possibly made a better selection than they did taking Jose Fernandez in the first round in 2011.

Third Round, 102nd Overall: Connor Barron

The Marlins third round pick in 2011, Connor Barron, was a high school shortstop who the Marlins failed to sign. Depending on whether or not he was seen as a future shortstop, Barron was projected anywhere up to sneaking in the back of the first round. A projectable athlete whose skills at the plate dramatically improved his senior year, Barron was seen a player that would need time to develop but one with a ceiling that you would expect from a first-round shortstop. After spurring the Marlins offers and heading to Southern Miss, Barron has had a rough three years in college. In 393 plate appearance over those three seasons, Barron is hitting a combined .237/.342/.313 with only 4 home runs. Barron's struggles at Southern Miss have been unpredictable and surprising. You have to root for Barron to get his career back on track next year, in his senior season.

Fourth Round, 133rd Overall: Tyler Palmer

Tyler Palmer is yet another high school middle infielder who failed to sign with the Marlins after being drafted in 2011 and has not found much success playing amateur baseball. However, it's not fair to look at Palmer in the same light as say Connor Barron because just days before Palmer was set to sign, he suffered a potentially career-ending injury to his throwing arm when breaking through a window. This not only cost Palmer his signing bonus, his scholarship to the University of Georgia, but he was also told that he would never play baseball again. Thankfully, Palmer didn't let a doctor's opinion deter him and he has rehabbed and worked his way up to various community colleges and small schools to get where he is today. Just in the past week, Palmer signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Yankees and he has already seen a little playing time with their GCL squad. As impressive as Palmer's journey has become, it's hard not to imagine where he might be today if it weren't for that freak injury back in 2011.

Eighth Round, 253rd Overall: Dejai Oliver

Dejai Oliver was drafted by Miami in the eighth round as a starting pitcher out of Seminole Community College in Florida. A fairly easy sign, Oliver quickly burst onto the scene in Jamestown. From 2011 to 2013, Oliver saw a lot of action in Jamestown, Greensboro, and Jupiter, but he failed to find great success at any stop, despite a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio. Heading into the 2014 season, the Marlins and Oliver split ways and Oliver decided to pursue an opportunity to pitch in the Independent Frontier League. Oliver is currently pitching for the Gateway Grizzlies in Missouri. At 30-13, the Grizzlies are at the top of their division and their pitching staff has more strikeouts than any other team in the league. Oliver himself is off to a rough start, boasting a 6.52 ERA and seeing his strikeout numbers go down significantly. Still, he's only 23 years old and one could infer that he probably still has a lot of baseball left in him.

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