The Miami Marlins have options for the seventh pick in the 2016 MLB Draft if they keep their minds open to different types of players, but the preferred option for the team is likely to be a prep pitcher. With the organization light on real pitching talent beyond the recently established Adam Conley, the team is far better off finding the next starter of the future, and they have never had luck opting for college pitchers, who are often lower-ceiling players. The Fish will grab at the best ceiling prospects whenever they can, barring their ability to sign them. That is part of the reason why the team opted for someone like Tyler Kolek, a boom-or-bust hard thrower fitting the club's ideal draft mold, over a more polished college pitcher like Carlos Rodon back in 2014.
Prep pitchers are everywhere in 2016, and the team could choose one of those types of players for their seventh pick in the draft. But who should the team take? The club has shown several preferences in the past when it comes to pitching prospects
Left-handers: The team has been obsessed with getting a left-handed starter on their roster. Lefties in a starting position are a rarity and thus coveted by any team, but Miami specifically has wanted that position filled. In any other year, I would feel this would be a priority that they discuss, but the team recently found a long-term lefty starter in Adam Conley and signed a free agent lefty in Wei-Yin Chen. That desire to fill a hole of left-handed starting pitching may be less relevant for them.
Hard-throwing, tall righties: Again, this is not a surprising stereotype among desired draft targets, but the Marlins have often looked for big, imposing right-handed frames with high velocity rather than more polished players of similar caliber. Kolek is 6'5" tall and 260 pounds. Jose Fernandez is listed as 6'3" and 230 pounds. Josh Beckett was 6'5" as well. Both of these guys fit a classic body type for a big dominant right-handed fireballer. Out of a high school pitcher who is already going to require a lot of developmental time, the team would prefer someone whose frame is going to fill out nicely in a few years time with good fitness training.
Midwestern appeal: Director of scouting Stan Meek is from Oklahoma, and in the past the Marlins have often looked to the southern midwest states for big, hardworking farmhand kids who throw the baseball hard. Chad James, the team's 2009 first-round pick, was out of Oklahoma. Andrew Heaney, the team's 2012 first-rounder, went to Oklahoma State University. Kolek grew up on a farm in Texas. The team's 2006 first-rounder, Brett Sinkbeil, came out of Tulsa, Oklahoma and went to Missouri State University. When it comes to pitchers, Meek and company love their midwestern kids.
Signability: The Marlins have never gone overslot on their first round pick and are among the cheaper teams in terms of draft spending. It is unlikely that theory will change, as the team likes to spend on its guys rather than go for bigger names if they may be tough to retain.
The team's ideal pitcher is a high-ceiling big guy who throws hard from one side or the other and is from Oklahoma. No one pitcher fits that profile to a tee, but which guys come close?
Riley Pint: If Pint is signable and drops to Miami, there seems to be a strong match. He is 6'5", though he comes in a lankier 190-pound frame, but he is 18 years old and could easily fill that frame up. He is the hardest thrower in the draft and can come out blazing triple-digits for his innings of work. His lighter workload in Kansas, where they play less year-round ball, could help alleviate some concerns the Marlins may have about picking up another high-velocity hurler with a risk of elbow injury. His conditioning and injury prevention management has been well documented in the Jeff Passan book "The Arm."
Jason Groome: Groome throws mid-90's and he does so from the left side, though working him harder may make it less likely that he will be able to sustain that. He is no doubt impressive, but the Marlins would have to be worried about keeping him as a draft pick, especially after he switched his commitment to Florida JUCO school Chipola College in order to retain a faster re-eligibility. With a junior college, Groome could choose to re-enter the draft next season rather than be forced to pitch three years for Vanderbilt, his prior commitment. That flexibility will make it harder to sign him at prices Miami may like.
Mark Manning: Manning is another kid who fits the profile as a 6'5" lanky kid who could fill out a big, athletic frame, at least based on how his dad, former basketball player Rich Manning, did. He throws from the right side in the mid-90's with raw secondary offerings. There are some concerns about the odds of him signing, however, as he is currently a two-sport recruit at Loyola Marymount and may ask for something slightly higher than slot.
Braxton Garrett: Garrett comes from Alabama, a place Miami would not mind drafting from. He also is the opposite of their profile of guys, as a rare high-floor, medium-ceiling high-schooler. He is a left-hander with decent size who owns perhaps the best curveball in the draft. This is the kind of pitcher Miami had plenty of earlier last season but lost as those floors on guys like Justin Nicolino began to bottom out. Garrett represents a safe choice in terms of signability and floor, but Miami usually chases the upside.
Forrest Whitley: Whitley is a huge 6'7" Texas righthander, which is right up their alley. He throws low- to mid-90's with good life and a decent hard breaking pitch with a mediocre (right now) changeup. He may be the rawest pitcher discussed here.
The team really has two strong choices in terms of fitting their four profiles. The most signable player may be Braxton Garrett, and given that the Marlins do not have a lot of selections this draft, maybe it would be wiser to avoid the boom/bust guys and go after someone who has a better chance of sticking in the bigs. Garrett's curveball is plus-plus already and could fool Major Leaguers according to some scouts, but he just does not have the raw stuff to push him up to ace status.
If the team wants an ace, it may have to depend on getting lucky and waiting for Riley PInt. Pint is the kind of pitcher the team likes to pick up, so a hard fastball combined with a surprisingly well-developed changeup may be enough to entice the team. If he falls, the club could jump on him and offer him a deal at slot and hope Pint is happy going to an organization that has worked to develop similar-styled pitchers before.