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Marlins 2019 MLB Draft Targets: Florida JUCOs

With the JUCO season now in progress, we have a better sense of how the state’s top talent would potentially fit within the Marlins organization.

RHP Carter Stewart is draft eligible again after going No. 8 overall to the Braves in 2018 but being unable to reach an agreement.
Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

The 2019 MLB Draft will be the Miami Marlins’ second draft under the Derek Jeter regime. In the first draft, the Fish focused up the middle by drafting outfielder Connor Scott, middle infielder Osiris Johnson and catcher Will Banfield during the early rounds.

In order to acquire even more impact talent this time around, the Marlins should put a special emphasis on scouting their own backyard. They are surrounded by some of the top high school prospects and colleges in the country. The state of Florida is a hot bed for baseball and has produced some of the best players in the game at all levels.

Here are five 2019 draft-eligible players from junior colleges in Florida who could hear their names get called by the Marlins.

1. RHP Carter Stewart

Carter Stewart is easily the top MLB Draft prospect out of the JUCO ranks. Stewart was taken eighth overall out of high school by the Atlanta Braves in the 2018 MLB Draft.

The in-state pitcher decided not to sign with the Braves, instead going to Eastern Florida State College for his 2019 season. Stewart originally committed to Mississippi State, but would have had to wait three seasons to be eligible for the draft again; at Eastern Florida State College, he can jump into the this draft class.

The Miami Marlins have the fourth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. If they choose to use that pick on a pitcher, Carter Stewart would be their guy. Stewart was the third-ranked arm last summer, and competing at the JUCO hasn’t hurt his stock. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but can touch somewhere in the mid 90s with movement. Stewart’s best pitch is his curveball as it is the best breaking pitch in this draft. He has good command on all of his pitches and misses lots of bats. At 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, Carter still has a lot of room to mature physically which will add more velocity to his fastball.

2. RHP Thomas Farr

Thomas Farr might not be as talented as Stewart, but is still one of the top JUCO players in the country. The Peach State pitcher signed with the Northwest Florida Raiders straight out of high school. He is currently a sophomore at NFSC and is their top pitcher. In the 2019 season, Farr has a 2-1 record with a 1.38 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. Farr has also signed with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Farr would be a solid pitching prospect for the Miami Marlins in the later rounds. The South Carolina signee has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and tops out at 96 mph. Farr has some really nice movement on his fastball and has a nice breaking pitch and changeup to go with it.

Farr could be an option for the Fish on Day 2 of the MLB Draft. He projects to be a back-end relief pitcher or starter at the professional level.

3. RHP Hunter Perdue

Hunter Perdue is another top arm who should be getting some looks by the Miami Marlins scouting department. The right-handed pitcher had a very solid 2018 season as a freshman: 10-1 with a 3.97 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 90 23 innings pitched. He signed with the State College of Florida Manatees out of high school and has a commitment to play for the Florida State Seminoles after this season.

The Virginia native has the tools to be a successful pitcher at the next level. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Perdue has more potential to grow. His fastball sits in the low 90s and touches around 93 mph. Good three-pitch mix, but should develop another breaking pitch.

If the Marlins draft Perdue, it would most likely be because they envision him as a closer. Should be on the board near the end of Day 2 of the MLB Draft.

4. SS Ivan Johnson

Ivan Johnson is one of the most interesting JUCO prospects in the country. He was the 61st-ranked high school player in the country. He signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, but didn’t have much success as a true freshman and transferred to Chipola after one season. In 2019, Johnson is currently batting .444 with a home run, four RBIs and two stolen bases in four games. Should Johnson continue his collegiate career, his next step after this season is South Carolina.

The Marlins are looking to add more depth at the shortstop position and Ivan Johnson could be their guy. Johnson has five-tool potential, but still needs to develop might not have the arm to stick at short. Some scouts believe he will be a top defensive second baseman. At the plate, Johnson is a switch-hitter and can drive the ball to all fields. His power still needs to develop, but Johnson does square up a lot of balls and has impressive bat speed.

The former Bulldog has the potential to be a top prospect in anybody’s farm system.

5. RHP Donovan Benoit

Benoit is one of the best power arms in all of Junior College baseball. Benoit started his collegiate career out of Tennessee and appeared in 16 games, but really struggled against SEC teams. He transferred to Santa Fe College and has had more success with the Saints. In three starts, Benoit is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched. He has signed to play with Tulane after the season.

The former Tennessee Volunteer has a good fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 95 mph. Benoit has worked on his off-speed pitches, addressing the key weakness from his freshman campaign.

If Benoit does end up getting drafted in 2019, it figures to happen on Day 3. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go unsigned and compete at Tulane for at least one season.

All 2019 stats updated entering Monday’s games