The 2008 Draft was bad for the Marlins, but 2009 was much worse. Here’s how it all went down.
First Round: LHP Chad James (Pick #18) - Yukon HS (OK)
2015 Stats (Frisco RoughRiders - Texas Rangers Double-A): 13 Appearances, 24.1 IP, 4.81 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.9 K/9
Chad James may be the biggest first-round bust in Marlins MLB Draft history. After going with a catcher in the first round in 2008, the Marlins went back to pitching in 2009, but James was a big swing and miss.
In four seasons in Miami’s farm system, James never posted an ERA below 3.80 and never reached a level above High-A. The Marlins finally parted ways with the lefty before the 2014 season and he immediately signed with the Texas Rangers, who placed him in Single-A.
James pitched 42 2⁄3 innings for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and then went on to throw 46 1⁄3 innings for the independent Evansville Otters in the 2014 season. Then in January 2015, while still unsigned for the season, James was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for amphetamine. If that suspension hadn’t killed his career enough, James was then suspended for an additional 100 games after failing a second test in November of that same year.
The left-handed pitcher appeared in 13 games for the Rangers’ Double-A team in between the suspensions in 2015, but that was the last time he played professional baseball.
Who they should have drafted: OF Mike Trout (Pick #25)
Second Round: RHP Bryan Berglund (Pick #66) - Royal HS (CA)
After picking James in the first round, the Marlins followed it up by making what would turn out to be an even worse pick in the second round. Bryan Berglund was a promising pitching prospect with a high-90s fastball, but before he threw a pitch in the 2010 season, he tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder.
When he finally came back in 2011, the righty still didn’t feel right, and had to get another surgery on his shoulder after figuring out there was a mistake during the first operation. Berglund finally got back to pitching in 2012, but he only tossed 11 2⁄3 innings in short-season Single-A. The Marlins released him at the end of the season, and he never again appeared in professional baseball.
Who they should have drafted: LHP Steven Matz (Pick #72)
Third Round: OF Marquise Cooper (Pick #97) - Edison HS (CA)
The string of bad picks for the Marlins in 2009 continued with Marquise Cooper in the third round. After being drafted, Cooper started out in rookie ball, but barely made it past that level. The outfielder got 28 plate appearances at High-A Jupiter in 2010 but only picked up three hits.
Cooper started at short-season Single-A Jamestown in 2011, but hit only .220, and the Marlins parted ways with him before the 2012 campaign. Cooper’s professional career was short-lived, as he would never sign with another team.
Who they should have drafted: OF Jake Marisnick (Pick #104)
Best Value Pick: RHP A.J. Ramos (Round 21, Pick #638) - Texas Tech
Stats with Marlins: 302 Appearances, 303 IP, 2.79 ERA, 77 SV, 1.23 WHIP, 10.4 K/9
The Marlins only made one pick in the 2009 Draft that actually helped them at the major league level, and it was A.J. Ramos. The right-hander dominated in the minors after being drafted and finally made it to the big leagues in 2012 as a middle reliever.
Ramos would spend the next three seasons in that role before settling in as Miami’s closer in 2015. At the back end of the bullpen, Ramos has 77 saves for the Marlins since then and was named to the NL All-Star team in 2016.
Somehow, out of 30 draft picks who signed in 2009, Ramos was the only one who panned out. The Marlins have had some bad drafts, but 2009 may have been the worst.