The Marlins have an excellent opportunity to further improve their farm system this June. After finishing 69-93 last season, the Marlins earned the sixth overall selection in the upcoming Amateur Draft - their highest position since 2008. This year's class is thin on overall talent, but features a number of strong college pitchers and high school catchers.
The order of top players will invariably shift over the next six weeks, but here are ten players listed in alphabetical order that will likely be called in the first half of the first round.
Austin Meadows, OF
School: Grayson HS
Height: 6'3" Weight: 210 lbs.
Statistics: None available
Austin Meadows profiles similarly to another recent George high school draftee, the toolsy Byron Buxton. Meadows shows an advanced plate approach, and a refined left-handed swing for a prep player. He can draw walks, and hit the ball to all areas of the field. He comes with a fair amount of power too. Meadows is a speedy athlete, and has mostly played center field in high school, helping attune his instincts to position. His arm strength is not elite, but it shouldn't prevent him from playing any outfield position.
Austin Wilson, OF
Height: 6'5" Weight: 245 lbs.
Statistics: 51 PA, .405/.510/.738, 5 2B, 3 HR
Wilson stands above his college hitting class thanks to his big frame and even bigger tools. He moves well on the field, hits for tremendous power, and uses his cannon arm to full effect. Stanford hitters have a reputation for failing to translate well to professional baseball, usually blamed on poor instruction. Evidence suggests this widespread belief is unfounded, as many successful major league hitters have come out of the Stanford program, including Jed Lowrie and Carlos Quentin. Wilson missed quite a bit of time this season with an elbow injury, which may make him less inclined to sign cheaply.
Clint Frazier, OF
School: Loganville HS
Height: 6'0" Weight: 190 lbs.
Statistics: 76 PA, .521/.553/1.211, 4 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR
Take a twelve minute drive from Austin Meadows' Grayson High School, and one will find Clint Frazier playing at Loganville High School. Like Meadows, Frazier is also a center fielder with outstanding tools. There are some important differences between the two prep prospects, however. Frazier bats right-handed, and his swing is much shorter and quicker than Meadows'. Frazier's approach will lead to fewer walks and more strikeouts, but many more home runs to compensate. He recently converted to center field, although some teams may view him as a right field power bat. I think his natural athleticism demands that he work in center for as long as possible.
Jonathan Crawford, RHP
Height: 6'1" Weight: 205 llbs.
Statistics: 4.35 ERA, 59.2 IP, 47 SO, 24 BB
The Marlins have undoubtedly seen Florida ace Jonathon Crawford pitch many times. In fact, they even drafted him out of high school in the 42nd round. Three years later, there is a lot to love about Crawford, and he is a likely first-round pick. He can hold his mid-90s fastball velocity deep into games, and he wields a devastating slider. The downside is he has problems locating his off-speed pitches, and his change-up is very much a work in progress. I suspect many teams will label Crawford as a future bullpen arm, which is not completely unfair. The Marlins have watched him pitch for many years, and perhaps their extra knowledge will lead to a different conclusion.
Kohl Stewart, RHP
School: St. Pius X HS
Height: 6'3" Weight: 195 lbs.
Statistics: 0.00 ERA, 22.0 IP, 28 SO, 7 BB
Kohl Stewart represents a tough sign for any interested baseball team, as Texas A&M has offered him a football scholarship to play quarterback. The Marlins may be turned off by his bonus demands, especially considering the rules punishing over-slot bonuses in the new collective bargaining agreement. Some team in the first round will make an attempt to nab Stewart, however. He is too talented to pass on. He possesses incredible athleticism, and already features three strong pitches. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but he uses it with finesse and confidence. His power slider wrecks opposing batters, and his change-up is well developed for a prep pitcher.
Kris Bryant, OF
School: San Diego
Height: 6'5" Weight: 215 lbs.
Statistics: 201 PA, .345/.517/.865, 10 2B, 2 3B, 21 HR
San Diego outfielder Kris Bryant cannot match Austin Wilson in raw power, but his overall offensive package is stronger. He may be the most sure-fire major league hitter in the entire draft class. His patient approach leads to plenty of walks, and enables him to punish mistakes. When he accomplishes the latter, the baseball flies. The only question surrounding Bryant is where he will play defensively in professional baseball. His arm is strong, so he could potentially play third base or the outfield. As he matures, he may gain a few extra pounds, slowing him down, and forcing a move to first base. I doubt this will deter any teams from drafting Bryant, as his bat will play great at any position.
Mark Appel, RHP
Height: 6'5" Weight: 190 lbs.
Statistics: 1.54 ERA, 70.1 IP, 84 SO, 12 BB
The consensus top prospect last year, Appel fell down draft boards due to his bonus demands. He ultimately rejected a $3.8 million offer from the Pirates, opting to return to Stanford for his senior year. He will have less bargaining power this year, so any team that wants him should find him easier to sign. Appel's fastball sits in the mid-90s, but can rise up to 98 miles per hour. His slider and changeup are already plus pitches. He can look surprisingly hittable at times, despite his plus offerings, but he projects as a solid major league starter.
Ryne Stanek, RHP
Height: 6'4" Weight: 190 lbs.
Statistics: 1.63 ERA, 55.1 IP, 52 SO, 21 BB
Stanek narrowly trailed Appel as the top college right-hander in the draft a month ago. Like Appel, he comfortably throws a mid-90s fastball and delivers a plus mid-80s slider. Stanek mixes in a decent curveball, but his slider is his most dependable out pitch. His changeup is not nearly as good as Appel's - a problem that he will need to work on if he wants to become a front-line starter. Unfortunately for Stanek, his command has faltered in his past few starts, making him look less and less dependable as a top ten pick. If he can regain his form, expect him to shoot back up draft boards. Like so many other talented amateur pitchers, Stanek boasts tremendous stuff, but struggles to find a consistent, repeatable motion.
Sean Manaea, LHP
School: Indiana State
Height: 6'5" Weight: 235 lbs.
Statistics: 1.57 ERA, 57.1 IP, 72 SO, 20 BB
Sean Manaea, the premiere college left-hander this year, garnered tremendous attention for his strong performance in the wood bat Cape Cod League. He hasn't achieved that level of play this year, but some still believe the Houston Astros may select him first overall. His low release point gives his fastball a fair amount of deception, but he is still able to throw in the mid-90s, even touching 97 miles per hour. Manaea's slider flashes as a plus pitch, but isn't always dominant, and his change-up has room for improvement.
Trey Ball, LHP/OF
School: New Castle HS
Height: 6'6" Weight: 180 lbs.
Statistics: None available
Trey Ball is one of the occasional two-way players that could get drafted in the first round as either a pitcher or a position player. He is yet another five-tool talent as an outfielder, displaying great speed, incredible arm strength, and solid power. His one weakness may be his hit tool, where opposing pitchers have exploited the holes in his swing. His tall, thin frame leads a naturally long swing. The consensus seems to place Ball's future on the mound, where he is a less risky proposition. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but should gain velocity as his body fills out. His change-up is an effective pitch, and with some work, his curveball could be as well. More than anyone on this list, Ball will be a multi-year project for the team that drafts him. The inherent athleticism and talent are impossible to ignore, however.