The Marlins’ decision to unload their veteran assets and embrace a full rebuild starts paying dividends in 11 days when the 2019 MLB Draft begins. The new regime handled last year’s selections, but now, they’re armed with three picks in the Top 50 (#4, #35 and #46) and an extra $4.4 million in their bonus pool compared to 2018. It’s a unique opportunity to stockpile quality prospects, adding them to a system that has already shown tremendous promise.
So...who should they add to this young core?
You hear the phrase “mock draft” and have been conditioned to expect the same breakdown and stat-counting you find on every site. But this will be something unique, promise.
On Tuesday, we brought you the draft special of Earning Their Stripes, covering the different possibilities of where Miami will go with their first three picks.
Expanding on that, let’s take some informed guesses at who those picks—#4, #35, and #46 overall—will be used to select.
The Marlins player evaluation staff has been overhauled under new ownership. These aren’t the same folks who built the 1997 and 2003 championship teams, so don’t expect them to follow those blueprints. For the fans, though, we thought it would be helpful to put 2019 draft prospects in the context of former Marlins greats.
Is JJ Bleday more like Christian Yelich or Derek Dietrich? Is Andrew Vaughn the closest thing we’ve seen to Miguel Cabrera? How about Rece Hinds—does he really have Sheffield power.
Let’s dive in and find out!
Ian’s Pick: OF JJ Bleday (Age: 21, Height: 6’3’’, Weight: 205, Bat/Throw: L/L)
Hit: 60 (Christian Yelich) | Power: 55 (Marcell Ozuna) | Field/Arm: 50-55 (Giancarlo Stanton) | Run: 45 (Derek Dietrich)
The #Marlins are clearly taking the upcoming amateur draft seriously. On hand to watch Vanderbilt (Bleday) at the SEC Baseball Tournament in Birmingham : Special Advisor Jorge Posada, VP Gary Denbo, President Mike Hill & Marlins CEO Derek Jeter.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) May 22, 2019
by @KyleParmley pic.twitter.com/StcYGcxSJX
A player who has probably had the most draft helium since the beginning of the collegiate season, JJ Bleday is a pure hitter in every sense of the label. True corner outfielder with a plus hit tool and plus raw power from the left side of the plate. Bleday yields equal parts Yelich, Stanton and Ozuna in his game; his ceiling as a big leaguer could be comparable to theirs, too.
All in all, a polished and elite bat with plus raw power potential is exactly the type of profile the Marlins should be coveting with the 4th pick.
Danny’s Pick: 1B/DH Andrew Vaughn (Age: 21, Height: 6’0’’, Weight: 214, Bat/Throw: R/R)
Hit: 60 (Derrek Lee) | Power: 60 (Dan Uggla) | Field/Arm: 50 (Kevin Millar) | Run: 35 (Gaby Sánchez)
Arguably the most advanced pure hitter in this year’s draft, Vaughn would immediately become the best hitting prospect in the Marlins farm system. Questions surround his (lack of) height and size, as well as his defensive limitations, but there is zero ambiguity in regards to his bat.
Stopping short of a direct Miguel Cabrera comp, the combo of the sweet-swinging Derrek Lee and the raw power of (“his name is…”) Dan Uggla is pretty flattering, too. It’s why drafting this pedigree of bat at #4 should be on the table for the Fish.
Pick #35 (Competitive Balance Round)
Ian’s Pick: LHP Hunter Barco (Age: 18, Height: 6’4’’ Weight: 212, Bat/Throw: L/L)
Fastball: 50 (Edinson Vólquez) | Slider: 50 (Dontrelle Willis) | Changeup: 60 (Caleb Smith) | Command: 50 (Aníbal Sánchez)
D-Train’s slider and Dr. KKKaleb’s changeup? Color me intrigued.
The Jacksonville prep pitcher, Hunter Barco, is who the Marlins could target at pick #35. A big 6-foot-4 lefty with a funky repeating delivery and lots of projection, Miami would be extremely fortunate to have Barco fall to them.
Pitching is the backbone of any farm system, and while the group Miami has in the minors is already impressive and steadily improving, adding one of the best prep arms in the draft with your competitive balance pick would be a massive win for the organization.
Danny’s Pick: 3B Rece Hinds (Age: 18, Height: 6’4’’, Weight: 210)
Hit: 40/45 (Josh Willingham) | Power: 60+ (Gary Sheffield) | Field/Arm: 50 (Jorge Cantu) | Run: 40 (Bobby Bonilla)
My pick at #35 came down to 3B Rece Hinds, OF Kameron Misner, or Barco. I went with the high-risk/high-reward selection of Hinds. In recent months, he was being mocked to Miami with the #4 pick, but questions about his plate discipline and contact rate have dampened his stock enough to make him potentially available in the compensation round.
Nonetheless, when you yield the immense amount of strength and pop that Hinds does, you are more than worthy of a high pick.
Ian’s Pick: OF Matt Wallner (Age: 21, Height: 6’5’’, Weight: 220, Bat/Throw: L/R)
Hit: 45 (Logan Morrison) | Power: 60 (Jeremy Hermida) | Field/Arm: 50 (Morrison) | Run: 40 (Justin Bour)
This is a pick where I had my eyes on a handful of players: Logan Wyatt (1B, Louisville), Greg Jones (SS, UNC-Wilmington) and the player I ultimately choose, Matt Wallner. Why not double down on the lefty power profile our system desperately needs? A few question marks surround Wallner’s hit tool, but he has shown enough plate discipline to tap into that power consistently (54 HR in 181 games).
Where I really see the value in this pick is his possible transition to first base down the line if need be. We can’t allow Sean Reynolds to be alone in the system any longer!
Danny’s Pick: INF Davis Wendzel (Age: 21, Height: 6’1’’, Weight: 200, Mullet: Extraordinary)
Hit: 55 (Mike Lowell) | Power: 45/50 (Brian Anderson) | Field/Arm: 55 (Lowell) | Run: 45 (Lowell)
In Lowell, the Marlins found a consistent player who did everything well, and hardly ever hurt his team at the plate or with the glove. Brian Anderson is trending in the same direction.
Davis Wendzel seems to fit this mold to the tee as well. The Co-Big 12 Player of the Year works deep counts, has an impressive eye at the plate, makes unceasingly good contact, and can sling the glove. The well-rounded Wendzel doesn’t hurt himself in any element of the game.
He also has a glorious mullet!
The reality is that MLB mock drafts are much more fluid than mocks in other sports. There are many critical factors in play—such as under/overslot opportunities and draft pool financials—that supersede taking the top talent. The only guarantee: there will be surprises.
However, the Marlins are undeniably in an enviable spot.
June 3 is right around the corner, and Fish fans should be ecstatic about the talent they’ll be able to choose from at #4, #35, and #46.
Woke up today...— Danny (@all_right_Miami) May 22, 2019
Had some coffee...
...and remembered that in a few weeks, either Vaughn or Bleday will be added to this already Top 13 farm system...
and smiled.... pic.twitter.com/Be0fWh1yfn