Here at Fish Stripes, our own prospect guru Eric Weston has already talked about fifteen players (here and here) that the Marlins could be considering taking for the sixth overall selection in the upcoming June draft.
One player that is absent from those lists, however, is a player that the Fish are being increasingly linked to. That player is New Mexico third baseman D.J. Peterson. Multiple mock drafts around the interwebs are connecting the Lobos infielder to the Fish at number six, including SB Nation's own Matt Garrioch over at Minor League Ball.
Most feel that the Marlins will target a college player, more specifically a bat, with the sixth overall selection. With the club's anemic offense not getting better any time soon, it's possible that the Fish are looking for a player with a high floor who can move through the system quickly. This draft class, unfortunately for the Fish, is pretty limited in terms of "elite" college bats. Players like San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant and North Carolina infielder Colin Moran are already expected to be off the board by the time the Marlins pick, which puts the club in a tough spot. They could opt to go for high-ceiling prep players like pitcher Kohl Stewart (if available) or outfielder Clint Frazier, but there's also obviously a greater risk and bust potential. The organization has made great picks in the first round with high school players like Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, but they've also gone through Chad James, Kyle Skipworth, and Matt Dominguez.
Before we delve further into potential draft scenarios, let's take a closer look at D.J. Peterson. A native of Scottsdale, Arizona, Peterson has been a model of consistency for the Lobos since he arrived in Albuquerque. Here are his slash lines over his past three seasons:
The numbers over the past two seasons are something out of a dream for most Marlins fans who are used to reading about the slash lines of the current roster.
Despite hitting more than 15 home runs each of the past two seasons, Peterson doesn't necessarily profile as a masher at the next level. The power numbers are somewhat inflated due to playing home games at a launching pad like New Mexico and the Mountain West in general. Additionally, Peterson has more of a natural line-drive stroke and compact swing that will likely suit higher averages more than big home run totals.
Most scouts also feel that despite playing third for the majority of his career at New Mexico, Peterson is best suited at first base at the pro level. This becomes the primary issue in deciding whether or not Peterson is worthy of a top-ten selection if his ceiling is that of a first baseman that won't end up hitting a lot of home runs. The Marlins have seen their share of that particular player type with guys like Gaby Sanchez and Casey Kotchman, and because Peterson will likely only be average defensively, they must decide whether his power is going to translate at the next level.
The bottom line is that D.J. Peterson is not one of the elite talents of the draft, but if the Marlins decide to go the route of a "safe" college player that could allow them to take risks on less-signable players with higher ceilings in the later rounds, D.J. Peterson could very well be the pick. The new CBA has put an emphasis on teams spending their pool money in the first ten rounds wisely, at the expense of being able to just go into the process prepared to simply draft the best player on the board at that time. With the lack of elite, high-ceiling players in this draft class as a whole, the Fish could probably be more rewarded by going after a top prep player, but the challenges of one of those players being a difficult sign and eating up a majority of the pool money could outweigh the reward in the eyes of the organization. Even with college bats, the reality of the draft is that it's a crap-shoot at best. Even the can't-miss, sure-to-hit Dustin Ackley boasts a career major league slash line of .237/.307/.344 and is currently working things out for the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma.
In my opinion, D.J. Peterson is an overdraft from a "best player available" standpoint, but if he's able to show that the power numbers are more legit than many are giving him credit for, he could very well be a good pick for an organization that's desperate to get bats to the big leagues as quick as they possibly can.
Bonus: Below is video of Peterson at the plate, taken from the 2012 Los Angeles Regional.
D.J. Peterson, New Mexico Sophomore INF (2012 Los Angeles Regional) (via rkyosh007)