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Top all-time Marlins MLB Draft picks outside the first 5 rounds

With MLB owners and players deciding to downsize the 2020 draft, it’ll remove the fun of discovering hidden gems in the later rounds.

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MLB: Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 MLB Draft will be unlike any other. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, high school and college baseball seasons have been cancelled, stalling their development and preventing scouts from getting their usual live looks. Then on Thursday night, MLB players and owners agreed to alleviate financial issues by downsizing the draft, deferring signing bonuses and reducing the total number of rounds from 40 to as few as five, according to The Athletic. The deal was made official on Friday.

Generally, the most successful drafted and developed Marlins players were blue-chip prospects from the beginning—think José Fernández, Christian Yelich and Josh Beckett (first round), Giancarlo Stanton (second), J.T. Realmuto (third) and Josh Johnson.

That being said, a competent front office can extract real value from rounds six and later, too. Examples from throughout Marlins history are highlighted below.

This article only concerns amateur draft picks who signed with the Marlins. That’s why Charlie Blackmon, Adam LaRoche and Cliff Lee are not included.


Miami Marlins Photo Day Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Mark Canha (2010—7th round)

During his first four full professional seasons (2011-2014), Canha homered 64 times. That was the second-highest total in the Marlins farm system.

And yet, the Marlins left him unprotected heading into the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. The Oakland A’s snatched him away.

Canha enjoyed a career year with his new club last season as a 30-year-old. Slashing .273/.396/.517 as an outfielder/first baseman, he contributed 4.0 fWAR (making him more valuable as any member of the 2019 Marlins).

Chris Paddack (2015—8th round)

Like Canha, Paddack got away from the Fish before getting the chance to make an impact for them at the major league level. Few transactions in franchise history match the absurdity of flipping the dominant right-hander for a 39-year-old Fernando Rodney.

Paddack was the ace of the Padres rotation as a rookie in 2019 (3.33 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, 2.4 fWAR in 140.2 IP).

There are some longevity concerns about the Tommy John surgery survivor, and he’ll need an improved breaking ball to legitimately enter the NL Cy Young mix. But let’s not sugarcoat it: Paddack was an excellent draft find and it’s painful to see him find success elsewhere.

Dan Jennings (2008—9th round)

These are the lowest career earned run averages in Marlins history for a left-handed pitcher (min. 100 IP):

Baseball-Reference

I’m only mildly surprised to see Jennings on top of the list, but amazed by the massive separation he has from everybody else.

Now in the journeyman phase of his career, the University of Nebraska product will have a difficult time adapting to MLB’s new three-batter minimum—nearly half of his lifetime matchups have come versus fellow lefties.

Josh Willingham (2000—17th round)

Willingham had to wait until his age-27 season to receive steady major league playing time. He mashed 26 home runs for that overachieving 2006 Marlins squad and was freakishly consistent from that point forward.

From 2006 through 2012, Willingham posted at least a 115 OPS+ (15 percent better than league average) with 400 plate appearances every season. The only others who did the same during that span were Miguel Cabrera, Adrián González, Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and David Wright.

Tom Koehler (2008—18th round)

The newly retired New York native went from anonymous late-round pick to Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year to a staple of the starting rotation. He’s among the franchise’s pitching leaders in most counting stats since the beginning of the Miami Marlins era.

Koehler’s recent interview includes more details about how he “got a lot more out of this game than [he] thought [he] would.”

AJ Ramos (2009—21st round)

Ramos is the only Marlins reliever over the last 15 years to save 40 games in a season. He peaked as a 2016 NL All-Star.

Shoulder issues have derailed AJ’s career. Now 33, it’s unclear if he will ever get another chance in affiliated ball.

Logan Morrison (2005—22nd round)

The draft position is somewhat misleading here. LoMo fell so far because of his college commitment, ultimately forgoing that by agreeing to a substantial $225,000 signing bonus.

More so than anybody else in this article, Morrison arrived to The Show with extraordinary hype. Baseball America once declared him the top Marlins prospect outside of Mike Stanton. Beginning in his early 20s, he would get every chance to prove himself as an everyday player.

Through that lens, a league-average bat (.239/.324/.426 career slash line) and zero postseason appearances through 10 seasons might be seen as disappointing. But it’s no doubt a success story when considering how Morrison originally entered the professional ranks.

Alex Vesia (2018—18th round)

Vesia has not accomplished anything...yet. However, health permitting, he checks all the boxes of a competent major league reliever.

Ranking No. 22 on the latest Fish Stripes Top 30 list, the deceptive lefty held his opponents scoreless at Double-A Jacksonville and the Arizona Fall League in 2019 and during the abbreviated 2020 Grapefruit League.

Once baseball returns from this pandemic-induced hiatus, Vesia has the potential to challenge Dan Jennings for Marlins southpaw supremacy.