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Miami Marlins prospects: Revisiting five years of drafts

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Today we dive deeper into five years of Miami Marlins draft history, from 2007-2011. We'll examine the top five picks in each of these years, whether those picks developed into big league contributors, and the value the Fish received in each draft. All in an attempt to gauge how successful Miami has been at improving their roster through the draft.

It's fair to say that former second round pick Giancarlo Stanton has developed into a big league contributor
It's fair to say that former second round pick Giancarlo Stanton has developed into a big league contributor
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Not too long ago I took a look at a group of 20 former first round picks by the Marlins; from the years 1996 through 2011.  I hoped to gain a sense of each first round pick's career value, as well as hopefully find a common theme as far as a draft philosophy for the Marlins over those 16 years of drafts.  Of course such an exercise, while interesting, was never going to tell us much about Miami's success in each of those drafts as a whole.  Because, while the first round selection (or selections) is vital, it does not tell the story of the entire draft.

That being said, I decided to dive deeper into the Marlins' draft history, albeit with a smaller sample of drafts.  Today, I take a closer look at a five year period from 2007 through 2011.  For each draft I examined only the first five selections; partly because it made the research more manageable and partly because the first five rounds are enough to gain a sense of whether a draft was "successful" or not.  In fact, using the results from a study that examined the baseball draft from 1987-2008, it was found that players drafted in rounds 1-5 make the big leagues 43-percent of the time; compared with players drafted in rounds 6 or later making the big leagues only six percent of the time.

The Marlins, as with most major league baseball clubs, have had mixed results with the draft; scoring big with a few prospects, selecting solid big league contributors, and picking players that would never see the major leagues.  We'll start with the 2007 draft and work our way through until we reach the 2011 draft.

2007

Name

Round

Position

Signed?

MLB Career WAR

Matt Dominguez*

1

3B

Yes

0.9

Michael Stanton*

2

CF

Yes

21.2

Jameson Smith

3

C

Yes

--

Bryan Peterson*

4

RF

Yes

-1.4

Steven Cishek*

5

RHP

Yes

5.4

*active

2007 was an effective draft for the Fish, with a combined WAR of 26.1.  Of course that figure is skewed as a result of the excellence of Stanton, but it's not like anyone cares.  Drafting Stanton has proven to be the best draft day decision since Miami took Josh Beckett.  Selecting their current closer, Cishek, in the fifth round also proved to be a smart move, and gave the Fish good value for the selection.  While Dominguez and Peterson are still active with major league clubs, Miami got little in return for the two.  Indeed Peterson was released in 2013, and Dominguez was part of a trade with the Astros that netted Carlos Lee for half a season.  Drafting Stanton alone though makes 2007 a solid draft for the Marlins.

2008

Name

Round

Position

Signed?

MLB Career WAR

Kyle Skipworth*

1

C

Yes

0

Brad Hand*

2

LHP

Yes

1.1

Edgar Olmos*

3

LHP

Yes

-0.5

Curtis Peterson

4

RHP

Yes

--

Peter Andrelczyk

5

RHP

Yes

--

*active

The Marlins failed to follow up their solid 2007 draft with an equally solid 2008 draft, instead receiving only a combined 0.6 WAR to date.  Simply put, when Brad Hand is the headliner of your draft class, it was a weak draft.  First round pick Skipworth did make his debut early in the 2013 season, although he failed to record a hit in his four plate appearances spread across four games.  He was released this past November and signed by Cincinnati two weeks later.  Similarly, Olmos had a very brief cup of coffee with Miami in 2013, before being claimed by Seattle off waivers this past November.  Peterson was out of baseball entirely by 2011, and Andrelczyk spent the 2014 season pitching Independent ball.

2009

Name

Round

Position

Signed?

MLB Career WAR

Chad James

1

LHP

Yes

--

Bryan Berglund

2

RHP

Yes

--

Marquise Cooper

3

CF

Yes

--

Dan Mahoney

4

RHP

Yes

--

Chase Austin

5

SS

Yes

--

*active

And I thought 2008 looked bad.  Not a single player the Marlins drafted in the first five rounds of the 2009 ever made it to the big leagues, and none are still even playing baseball.  In fact none of the five ever made it past High-A while playing in the minors.

2010

Name

Round

Position

Signed?

MLB Career WAR

Christian Yelich*

1

1B

Yes

4.9

Rob Rasmussen*

2

LHP

Yes

0.2

J.T. Realmuto*

3

SS

Yes

0.1

Andrew Toles*

4

CF

No

--

Robert Morey*

5

RHP

Yes

--

*active

2010 turned out much better than the 2009 draft.  In total, the 2010 draft has yielded the Marlins a combined WAR of 5.2, headlined of course by Christian Yelich.  Interestingly, and it speaks to the player development part of the Miami front office, both Yelich and Realmuto were drafted and then made to change positions by the Fish.  Clearly, the Marlins saw the potential for each to succeed in the outfield and behind the plate respectively.  Yelich is a rising star, and Realmuto is a promising prospect who should become a regular in Miami by next season.  Morey continues to toil away in the farm system, opening the year at Triple-A New Orleans.  He has seen time as both a starter and reliever, and his versatility should improve his chances of a call-up to the big league club.  Rasmussen has already been traded an astounding four times, and made his major league debut with Toronto last year out of the bullpen.  Toles didn't sign with the Fish and was chosen in the third round by Tampa Bay in 2012.  He played High-A ball last year.

2011

Name

Round

Position

Signed?

MLB Career WAR

Jose Fernandez*

1

RHP

Yes

7.4

Adam Conley*

2

LHP

Yes

--

Connor Barron

3

SS

No

--

Tyler Palmer

4

2B

No

--

Mason Hope

5

RHP

Yes

--

*active

As Fernandez is the only one of the five to see action in the major leagues, his personal career WAR of 7.4 doubles as the combined WAR for the top five selections in the 2011 draft.  Fernandez's value is well known, even as he continues to recover from elbow surgery.  Adam Conley, currently ranked as the sixth best prospect in the organization, opened 2015 pitching for Triple-A New Orleans; the same level where he finished the 2014 season.  Although a starter throughout his career, Conley could help the Marlins out of the bullpen as soon as this season.  Barron, somewhat surprisingly for a third round pick, did not sign and plays for Southern Mississippi; he is currently ranked as the ninth best senior prospect ahead of this summer's draft.

Tyler Palmer did not sign after the Fish chose him in the forth round, and he was signed this past summer as an un-drafted free agent by the Yankees.  It did not take Palmer long to make an impression, albeit the wrong kind of impression after being suspended 50 games for testing positive for amphetamines in January.  Mason Hope was out of baseball following the 2013 season.

Purely from a numbers standpoint, that number being the combined career WAR value of the top five picks in each draft, the 2007 draft is far and away the most successful during this five year sample size.  Of course that Stanton guy helps a little bit.  Even from a depth perspective however, the 2007 draft still stands alone, as Steve Cishek has proven his value as Miami's closer.  Apart from the lost year of 2009, the positive spin for Miami is that they received at least one big league contributor from each draft class; those being Stanton, Brad Hand, Christian Yelich, and Jose Fernandez.  J.T. Realmuto and Adam Conley are also two prospects from 2010 and 2011 respectively that are on the doorstep of contributing for the Marlins.

The challenge for Miami is getting value for those selections in rounds three through five.  Apart from Cishek in 2007, the Fish have gotten nothing from those slots.  For a small market club like Miami, this is a worrying sign and could manifest into a problem.  Yes drafting players like Stanton, Yelich, and Fernandez within the first two rounds is great, and the Marlins scouting department clearly did their homework on these players; but teams can use their selections in rounds three through five and beyond to build depth within their organization.  Quite often that organizational depth is what saves teams money, because it is always cheaper to promote from within than sign a free agent.

Moving forward the Marlins need to continue their success with drafting players in the first two rounds, and look to bolster the depth in the organization by making smarter selections in rounds three through five and beyond.