The 2018 MLB Draft is under way which means it’s a great time to make you all anxious by talking about all of the times the Marlins swung and missed on draft picks. I’ll concede, the Marlins have made some solid first-round picks, especially 2010-2012 when the Fish took Christian Yelich, José Fernández, and Andrew Heaney respectively. However there are a lot of busts sandwiching those three picks.
There are more than 5 of the 32 first round picks (including compensation rounds) the Marlins have made since 1993 that haven't panned out, but I’ll save you the frustration and cap the list there.
5. Jeff Allison
While it is hard to know for sure what could have been with Allison, the reality is, he didn’t pan out. The Marlins snagged Allison out of Peabody Veteran’s Memorial High School in the 2003 draft. Allison had everything going for him, a left handed pitcher touching the mid-90s with ease, he was named the Massachusetts Gatorade High School Player of the Year after giving up only one run in over 63 innings, drafted by the eventual World Champions, and he got a nice little sum of $1.85 million for his signature.
As I’m sure you could guess, things began to go downhill, fast. Allison missed all of the 2004 minor league season, being placed on the restricted list for reported substance abuse. The highly touted lefty would return in 2005 starting 17 games, pitching to a 5-4 record with a respectable 4.18 ERA. Allison’s substance abuse issues would return following the 2005 season and reports later surfaced that the once top prospect was dealing with a Heroin and Oxytocin addiction forcing him out of the game for two years. Allison made a few attempts at a comeback, but to no avail. Fortunately, Allison beat his addiction and is now a public speaker on drug awareness.
4. Chad James
If you asked yourself “who?” you’re probably not alone. The Marlins took James 18th overall in the 2009 draft out of Yukon High School in Yukon, Oklahoma, between the picks of AJ Pollock and Shelby Miller. The Marlins inked James to a $1.7 million signing bonus, the second most ever for an 18th overall pick. James would go on to pitch 6 seasons in the minors to a 26-46 record with a 4.56 ERA. The 6’3” lefty would become most well known for failing 3 drug tests, earning him a 100 game suspension which he would never return to pro-baseball from.
3. Kyle Skipworth
MLB.com referred to Skipworth as “arguably the best catcher in the draft” when the Marlins took him with the 6th pick out of Glen Avon High School in California in 2008. I’ll spare you the suspense, both the Marlins and MLB.com could not have been more wrong. Skipworth went on to hit .218 in 6 minor league seasons , and reaching the big leagues for 4 games in 2013 where he went 0-3 and was later released. The other catcher selected in the first 6 picks was a guy named Buster Posey, who is now in his tenth season of his already hall-of-fame career. Hindsight is 20-20, but I think it is safe to say Kyle Skipworth was not the best catcher in the 2008 draft.
2. Tyler Kolek
Kolek was taken 2nd overall in the 2014 draft and while generally 4 years still lands under the “too early to tell” category when judging a prospect Kolek’s struggles have been too significant to ignore. Kolek, selected out of Shepherd High School in Shepherd, Texas (noticing a trend?) signed a whopping $6 million signing bonus with the Marlins, prying the 6’5” 250 pound righty from his TCU commitment. The Marlins were infatuated with the power Kolek boasted on the mound and with reason, the monster righty touched triple digits with his fastball in high school with a slider in the 90s. Kolek’s elite velocity persuaded the Marlins into selecting Kolek before, Kyle Schwarber, Aaron Nola, Kyle Freeland, and Michael Conforto, who were all selected in the top-10.
Kolek has struggled to stay healthy since starting his professional career, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2016. Kolek returned from his surgery in 2017 only pitching 3 2⁄3 innings, giving up 12 runs; wondering what that ERA is? 29.45 to be exact. Kolek is back on the DL with a shoulder ailment and has yet to pitch in 2018. In the second overall pick’s career so far, Kolek is 4-13 with a 5.13 ERA and 88 walks in 134 innings.
1. Josh Booty
Some may know Booty as LSU’s starting quarterback under Nick Saban, others may know him as arguably the biggest bust in Marlins history. Booty was a standout football and baseball player at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport Luisiana, beating out Peyton Manning for USA Today Offensive Player of the Year and being named National High School Football Player of the Year by six different publications. Booty was equally impressive on the baseball field, earning USA Today All-American honors and a silver medal as the starting shortstop for USA’s Junior Olympics team. The All-American caught the attention of the Marlins, who had the 5th pick in the 1994 draft, but the Marlins knew they had their work cut out for them to pry the superstar quarterback from his LSU commitment. A record breaking $1.6 million signing bonus ended up being enough to entice the year-old to lace up the metal spikes, but for the Marlins, they probably wish he never put down the football.
Booty played just under 500 games in the minor leagues, striking out a nauseating 621 times in over 1745 at bats and batting to a .198 average. Somehow, Booty got the call up to the bigs, getting 4 at-bats in 1997 and eventually receiving a World Series ring for his “contributions” to the championship team. The third baseman went on to appear in a total of 13 MLB games before he decided to give football a shot, joining the LSU football team. Under Nick Saban, Booty started parts of two seasons in a bit of an up and down career at QB. After his sophomore season, Booty decided to declare for the NFL Draft where he was taken in the 6th round by the Seahawks, never to see a down in the NFL. As we saw projected Oklahoma starting quarterback Kyler Murray selected 9th overall in yesterday’s first round, dual-sport athletes can be a tricky proposition. If you ask Booty, he calls himself an “idiot” for trying to marry the two sports.
Who do you consider the worst draft pick in Marlins history?
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