MLB Draft day could not come any sooner for the Marlins front office. In what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated and exciting draft years in franchise history, the Marlins are in a position to make a tremendous amount of noise with their 2019 picks. Boasting three top-50 picks compared to last year’s one (Connor Scott, 13th overall), the Marlins enter Monday with the 4th, 35th, and 46th overall picks as ammunition to stockpile elite amateur talent.
Not only is this a potential turning point for the direction of the franchise because of the abundance of early picks; the 2019 draft also represents the second phase of a massive Marlins rebuild. The organization’s farm system is being reinforced to set up a sustainable long-term product of success at the major league level.
Although most of the Marlins’ bonus pool for the 2018 draft was invested in position players, the team devoted the majority of its mid-to-late round picks to addressing pitching depth. After not taking a single pitcher with their first five picks, including their Competitive Balance B pick in which they took catcher Will Banfield, the Fish would ultimately draft 25 pitchers (five of those didn’t sign).
However, the draft wasn’t their only means of pitcher acquisition. With new ownership in place, the Marlins have acquired RHPs Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger from the Dee Gordon trade, RHPs Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen and LHP Daniel Castano for Marcell Ozuna, RHP Jorge Guzman for Giancarlo Stanton, RHP Jordan Yamamoto for Christian Yelich, and RHP Sixto Sánchez and LHP Will Stewart for J.T. Realmuto.
Marlins Vice President Gary Denbo on the Marlins design of building the organization initially through pitching. pic.twitter.com/8knRaNtcd0— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) May 29, 2019
Among their Top 30 prospects, MLB Pipeline includes 15 pitchers with Sánchez as their No. 1 overall prospect and a consensus Top 50 prospect in baseball. The hard-throwing right-hander is just 20 years old.
In spite of all the recent high-profile moves, the Marlins were ranked 25th overall by Bleacher Report coming into the 2019 season with only two Top 100 prospects (Sánchez and OF Victor Victor Mesa, who was signed by Miami in October as the top international prospect on the market). On the other hand, Baseball America was far more bullish about the present talent, placing the Marlins 13th in their version of those rankings. Regardless, with talent and depth in pitching expansively covering all levels of the minor leagues, they are looking to make a splash in big ways at the draft, and their positioning in the draft renders them perfectly equipped to do so.
Heading into the 2019 draft, expect a shift towards impactful, talented, and championship-caliber position players. Currently, the Marlins do have some talented bats in the minors with Monte Harrison and Isan Díaz rising to stardom for Triple-A New Orleans, their big league debuts drawing ever closer. The Mesa brothers also figure to be focal points of the Marlins team of the future as well. Beyond that, though, the system is lacking in surefire MLB regulars.
Marlins executives have assured the public that they will draft the best overall player available on the draft when they get their turn to draft the 4th overall pick. Last month, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill stated that “the biggest thing we’ve seen in the top part of the draft is there seems to be a lot more college bats available, and not as much college, right-handed pitching.”
As of right now, all the stars seem to align for the Marlins to draft star outfielder JJ Bleday out of Vanderbilt University if availability permits it. Throughout the 2019 season, Bleday has been a force to be reckoned with at the plate. Going into regionals of the NCAA Tournament, he led all of college baseball with 26 home runs to go along with a remarkable .357 batting average, all while tallying 67 RBI and 72 runs scored.
Regardless of whether Bleday is ultimately drafted or not, the front office is adamant about drafting a player with “face of the franchise” potential. All fans can do is wait and hope for the best.
To stay up to date on all draft-related news on the first day of the MLB Draft, tune in to MLB network on Monday evening at 7 p.m. or stream it live on MLB.com.