With the second overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Marlins selected Tyler Kolek, a flame-throwing high school pitcher who had raw talent, but would be a project moving forward in terms of developing his secondary pitches.
At the time, the vibe surrounding Miami’s first round pick at Fish Stripes was positive, but fast-forward two years, and Kolek has a 4.55 career ERA in the minors and underwent Tommy John surgery this April after blowing out his elbow. As mentioned, the Marlins knew that they had a project on their hands with Kolek, but right now, an extended stay in majors appears three or four years away, at least.
And then there’s Carlos Rodon, who went third overall to the White Sox. He was rated the number one prospect in the country at the start of 2014, but the Marlins were transfixed by Kolek’s triple-digit fastball, and decided to pass on him. Last night, Rodon baffled the Marlins over six innings, allowing only one run en route to victory.
He has suffered a slight sophomore slump this season, posting a 4.32 ERA over 19 starts, but he was solid in his rookie campaign as he posted 139 strikeouts in 139.1 innings and won nine games. When comparing the two pitchers, the Marlins made the wrong choice.
With Rodon, the Marlins would have had a promising rotation piece for the future, and a much better starting five as, frankly, Miami’s rotation is a bit of a mess right now (no offence Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley, or Tom Koehler). Instead, they have a pitcher who struggled at Class-A before going under the knife to repair his pitching elbow.
Recently, the Marlins have made a few questionable decisions when scouting starting pitching. Earlier this year it emerged that they chose Justin Nicolino over Noah Syndergaard in the huge trade with the Blue Jays in 2012, they then traded away Andrew Heaney in a package for Dee Gordon, and they traded for Andrew Cashner (who owns a 6.61 ERA since joining Miami) before this year’s trade deadline.
Scouts cannot predict the future, so they are not to blame for the predicament the Marlins are in. However, Miami is being seriously hampered by their, overall, below-average rotation. They made a safer first round pick this year in Braxton Garrett, but the Marlins might not get the starting pitching help they need in time to recover the momentum the team has currently lost.
The Marlins are struggling down the stretch and, as we all saw last night, Carlos Rodon would have been a big boost to this team. Unfortunately for the Marlins, they made the wrong draft decision.