The Miami Marlins appear to be in line to select a talented player with the 12th pick of the 2015 MLB Draft. The early pundits all seem to be pointing towards a prep outfielder despite the team's lack of need in the outfield. The Fish have reasonable depth at that position, but more importantly the club has a trio to whom you could refer as the best outfield in baseball. Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Giancarlo Stanton may all be here for some time, but if the Marlins feel the best future talent at the 12th pick is in the outfield, they should draft for talent and not for need. Remember, very rarely does an MLB draft pick have a chance to make an immediate contribution to the roster unless they are first-pick immense talents, usually coming out of college.
That being said, if the Marlins want a prep outfielder, they have plenty of options. There are a number of names who could all be called up around the 12th pick in the draft, and they all have varying levels of fit on the Fish. So which players seem to fit the team's desired style the best? Let's briefly discuss a few names.
Trenton Clark, Richland HS (Tex)
Clark is the name most commonly mentioned for the Marlins and that makes sense. He is a left-handed hitter who can generate power, which is something the Marlins have sorely wanted on their roster for years. He is an athletic outfielder with speed whom the club could mold over a long period of time, especially with the trio of outfielders the team has in the majors. Finally, Clark is a Texas kid, and the Marlins have often turned to Texas and the midwest when they look for talent, as director of player scouting Stan Meek is an Oklahoman himself.
Clark is raw but has the speed and potential power combination the club would drool over. He has an odd batting stance and grip but videos show him with good bat speed and the ability to turn on pitches and drive. That grip does look like he is constantly choking up on the bat, so it is not surprising to hear that he supposedly makes good contact. ESPN's Keith Law ranked his prospective hit tool at 60, which would make him similar to a Christian Yelich but with less discipline and more power. Other sources are less enamored with his power but see the contact ability as a major plus.
Kyle Tucker, Plant HS (Fl)
Tucker has the kind of lanky lefty physique that one could imagine growing into something amazing at the plate. As of right now, however, what he displays is a smooth swing with few hitches and good bat speed to get around the ball. Like Clark above him, he is expected to put the ball in play with good contact and he can generate power by moving through the zone so easily. The swing is almost a direct approach through the plate. Comparisons have also been made to Christian Yelich in that regard.
Tucker profiles as more of a corner outfielder, so his ceiling may not be as high for a high school player as Clark's. However, his floor appears to be better, as the bat appears fairly certain to play, and in the corners, Tucker has good defensive ability with range, smarts on his routes, and enough arm strength to handle either corner.
Garrett Whitley, Niksayuna HS (NY)
The first two players possessed the necessary bat speed, but looking at Whitley, he has elite-type movement through the zone. That video clearly distinguishes the bat speed difference between the two formerly mentioned players and Whitley. That bat speed lets you dream a little bit more about his power as he develops into his body and gets bigger. But his work at the plate is still raw, unlike the more refined prep prospects like Tucker in terms of approach. Whitley is the highest-ceiling guy among the three mentioned.
Whitley is also the one most likely to stick in center field, and that is in large part due to his amazing speed. The speed factor may play a big role in determining if the Marlins are challenged to select one of these three men among each other. The Fish have always wanted speed in their lineups, and Whitley has enough of that to burn. He is also effective enough to play center field full time without questions as of right now.
It should be noted that another prep outfielder, Daz Cameron, could very well be available by the time the Marlins pick. However, he may be too rich for many teams' blood, as he is rumored to be looking for top-of-the-draft bonus money. The Marlins are notorious for towing the party / MLB line and paying about close to slot every time. Such a policy would probably not change for Cameron, who at least is already committed to Texas Tech if he doesn't like what he sees.
It is also worth mentioning that there are a number of college position players possibly available to Miami. Topping the dark horse list for the Marlins is Andrew Benitendi out of the University of Arkansas, mostly for me due to the Arkansas connection; the Marlins have selected Arkansas players highly in each of the last two drafts.
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