In our last look at ESPN Insider's Keith Law's first mock draft, the expert had the Miami Marlins drafting catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson with the second pick of the 2014 MLB Draft. But after news regarding owner Jeffrey Loria's demands at the top of the draft, the most likely choice has changed in Law's latest mock draft, second edition (Insider subscription required but recommended).
It should be no surprise that the Marlins might angle for the excellent marketing possibility of featuring two elite Cuban-American talents in Jose Fernandez and North Carolina State's dominant lefty prospect Carlos Rodon. Rodon is an elite talent and has been regarded as the best pitching prospect for this draft for the last year, but only in the last few months have questions about his body of work emerged. He is coming off of a good season at NC State, but one that has been met with some disappointment from scouts as well. He ran into some rough patches, particularly with control, in 2013, but it seems he bounced back nicely in his junior year, posting 2.8 walks per nine innings along with strikeout rates akin to his fantastic freshman season.
Rodon has always been considered the best talent in the draft, and for the Marlins to be able to select him with the second pick would be a huge boon to a team that could be close to contention. Rodon's plus fastball and elite-level hard slider are likely very close to Major League ready, and it would not be a stretch to see Rodon in the majors by the middle of next season. There are still concerns about his effort in delivery and whether he can maintain enough control and get away with a mostly two-pitch repertoire to stay a starter, but his stuff is undeniable.
But the question will be whether Miami will be able to pony up the resources to acquire Rodon. He currently has super-agent Scott Boras around as an "advisor," and that means that the negotiation process may force any drafting team to pursue very high bonuses. The Marlins do have the largest bonus pool available, but there was discussion that the Fish might draft and sign under-slot with the second selection and go after falling talent in the early competitive balance round. Picking Rodon may require more than the designated $6.8 million assigned to the second pick. Then again, as Law points out in the mock draft, Rodon has not actually put out any demands as of yet.
What Miami does with this selection may depend on what the Houston Astros do with the first pick. If they do not select Rodon because of concerns over pitcher health at the top of the draft, Miami would be hard-pressed to pass on Rodon's talent and marketability. But if he is selected, the Fish could still turn to Jackson, prep pitcher Tyler Kolek, or perhaps an under-slot selection like Louisiana State University's Aaron Nola.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all the latest MLB Draft coverage leading right up and through the 2014 MLB Draft!