Mere hours prior to the start of the 2021 MLB Draft, nobody outside of the Marlins organization has much confidence in predicting which players Miami will draft. That’s largely a byproduct of being in the middle of the draft order, rather than picking top five overall like the Fish did in 2019 and 2020. Some of the amateur scouting department’s favorite prospects will already be off the board by the time they get an opportunity at No. 16, but it’s unknown exactly which ones. Also, the Marlins will select first in Competitive Balance Round A (No. 31 overall), which gives them a significantly larger bonus pool than you’d normally expect from a playoff team. There’s no point locking in on—and leaking the names of—anybody specific under these circumstances.
With that being said, it is an annual tradition for the baseball industry to make educated guesses in the form of mock drafts. Here’s a roundup of which prospects the top draft writers and evaluators have projected as Marlins early-round fits.
Baseball America: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA) at No. 16
In our last mock we had the Marlins tied to (Miami RHP Sam) Bachman, and that seems like a real possibility, but we’ve heard athletic high school position players lately and Ford fits that description, as does Taylor, Chandler and Florida outfielder Jay Allen.
Kiley McDaniel, ESPN: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA) at No. 16; Sam Bachman, RHP, Miami (Ohio) at No. 31; Peyton Wilson, 2B, Alabama at No. 52
Ford is a nice value here and I’m hearing mostly the second tier of college pitching (Hoglund, Bednar) or second tier of prep bats (Allen) at this pick, along with a two-way Bubba Chandler.
Eric Longenhagen and Kevin Goldstein, FanGraphs: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College at No. 16
There doesn’t seem to be any particular player family that the Marlins are focusing on, as they’re simply in best-player-available mode. They’ve been attached to college pitching (and would love to see Ty Madden fall to them) and high school pitching (Andrew Painter early in the spring), as well as the upper tier of the high school outfield crop. Sal Frelick can play center field, makes a ton of contact and could reach the top of the big league lineup quickly, as the Marlins don’t think they are very far from being dangerous.
Aram Leighton, Just Baseball: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA) at No. 16
While the Marlins would probably like to take a collegiate player at 16, if Harry Ford is available, they have to take the “unicorn” catcher. You can forget the high school catcher stigma with Ford, as he is an insane athlete with a plus bat, with center field as a legitimate fall back position for him. The two organizational positions of need for the Marlins? Catcher and center field. I think teams are downplaying their interest in Ford, and we could see him be one of the early surprises in the draft, cracking the top 10. If that isn’t the case, this is a no brainer for the Fish.
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, MLB Pipeline: Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS (SC) at No. 16
Callis: The Marlins may prefer a hitter, and if the second tier of college bats are gone that leaves them with athletic high school types such as Ford, Taylor and Chandler.
Mayo: It’s likely going to take someone with extra picks to sign Taylor away from playing football (and baseball) at Clemson and the Marlins have them, with a comp pick at 31. Taking a bat here makes some sense after the Marlins went all pitching in 2020.
Prospects Live: Will Taylor, OF, Dutch Fork HS (SC) at No. 16; Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East HS (NY) at No. 31
Taylor has made a late charge with the Marlins and could factor in here at 16 if he’s still on the board. He’s got plenty of suitors in the top ten, and even more teams in the 20s that desire him. Taylor is one of the more polarizing players in the first round. There are supervisors who covet him as the number one player in this entire class.
The Marlins value the position of catcher and Mack falling into the comp round here would be a big win. Mack didn’t have the loudest spring, but the swing is very real. He projects at least at average hitter with substantial raw power for an up-the-middle position. Mack has a plus arm and possesses all the traits necessary to stick behind the plate. Doug Nikhazy certainly makes some sense here, as do players like Mat Nelson, Connor Norby and Andrew Painter.
Spencer Morris, SB Nation: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA) at No. 16; Anthony Solometo, LHP, Bishop Eustace HS (NJ) at No. 31
Keith Law, The Athletic: Bubba Chandler, RHP/SS/QB, North Oconee (GA) HS at No. 16
Chandler is also committed to play football at Clemson, and is also really unlikely to get to campus at this point, with multiple teams interested in him as a pitcher and a few even interested in him as a position player. The Marlins have shown interest in him on the mound and are generally linked to high-ceiling guys.