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Marlins need to make first Draft pick count

MIAMI -- Signing free agent Jose Reyes gave the Marlins an All-Star shortstop, but it also impacted the organization's 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

As compensation for Reyes, the Marlins had to surrender their second-round pick. So now the 71st overall selection will go to the New York Mets.

Losing their second-round choice is a blow, but the Marlins still are positioned nicely to land a future impact player because their first-round choice is No. 9 overall.

"That pick for Reyes, we lost," Marlins vice president of scouting Stan Meek said. "You always want to have picks, but if you lose one, it's not too bad to lose it for Jose Reyes."

Not having a second-round choice magnifies the importance of the Marlins making the right call with their top selection on Monday.

"We think there are a lot of guys at the top of this Draft that have a chance to have an impact," Meek said. "It's a matter of trying to pick the right guy. But it does hurt not having [another] pick until 104 [overall]. There will be a lot of guys off the board. It just makes it even more important to do a good job of getting the right guy at [No. 9]."

Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

The 2012 Draft is shaping up to be a bit uncertain, mainly because there isn't that unanimous player or two at the top of the class. There isn't a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg grabbing all the attention.

Compared to 2011, this class is regarded as a bit down.

"I don't it's very close to last year," Meek said. "Last year was an exceptional Draft, I think. We felt like there was depth in the Draft. We don't see quite the same depth in this Draft, although there are good players in every Draft. It's a matter of mining the thing and finding those guys who are maybe not as obvious.

"But I don't think the overall strength of this Draft compares to last year at all. Generally speaking, it's probably a little below average, overall."

From a priority standpoint, the Marlins will be looking for pitching.

It's been the objective every season, and Miami feels it landed a future big league star with its first-round selection last year.

Jose Fernandez, from Alfonso High School in Tampa, is performing at a high level at Class A Greensboro.

"You never have enough pitching," Meek said. "We have drafted a lot of pitching. Not all of it has panned out. But you have to Draft a lot of pitching that you really like, because there is a lot of attrition. We'll always be pitching friendly, when it comes to the Draft."

Recent history has shown that in the first-round the Marlins also will go with the best available player. In 2010, outfielder Christian Yelich was the club's first-rounder.

Yelich, now at Class A Jupiter, is the top rated prospect in the organization.

In Yelich and Fernandez, the Marlins believe they have two future stars.

"It's not just their tools. Their makeup is outstanding," said Marty Scott, the Marlins vice president of player development. "They are two different animals. Yelich is soft spoken, and leads by example. Fernandez is very confident. He goes out and proves it too. But at the same time, he's very coachable.

"We got some special kids there. We look for both of them to have long, illustrious, big league careers."

Here's a glance at what the Marlins have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
Signing Reyes means Miami won't pick in the second round. The No. 71 overall pick now goes to the Mets. So the Marlins will have a big gap picking No. 9 overall to No. 104, which is in the third round.

"You always want to have those picks," Meek said. "We got Giancarlo Stanton in the second round one year. You hate to lose the pick."

The scoop
The Marlins are in the top 10 for the first time since 2008, when they selected catcher Kyle Skipworth sixth overall. The team maintains a "best player available" mindset, but history has shown they lean heavily toward pitching, unless there is a position player too good to pass up.

Mostly, the organization is seeking to build up as many prospects as possible. The system has thinned in recent years, as top prospects Stanton, Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison have progressed to the big leagues.

Miami's top prospects right now are at the Class A levels, and this Draft would immediately add more depth to the lower levels.

First-round buzz
If the Marlins are looking for a five-tool caliber outfielder, Courtney Hawkins may be the choice. Hawkins is from Carroll High School in Texas. He's also pitched, but he has big power potential and speed.

A couple of other names to watch are outfielder Albert Almora from Mater Academy (Fla.) and shortstop Carlos Correra from Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School. Neither may be available with the ninth pick.

Left-hander Max Fried from Harvard Westlake High School in California is another possibility.

Some college-groomed candidates are lefty Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State, and Duke right-hander Marcus Stroman, who's 5-foot-9 but throws hard. If he were moved to the bullpen, he could make a quick jump to the big leagues.

Money matters
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

"I don't think many people will go over the pool, because if you do, you get penalized," Meek said. "If you go over 5 percent or more, you're going to lose next year's first-round pick. I'm not speaking for other clubs, but I just don't see us going that route because there is too much value for a first-round pick."

Shopping list
The Marlins' history has shown that pitching is always a priority, especially if there is a talented left-hander. Some other areas of need are middle infielders and catchers. Typically, the high-end middle infielders go quickly, and there isn't a great deal of depth at shortstop and second base.

A year ago, the Marlins took infielders with their third- and fourth-round picks, and neither player signed. Catching also is tough to fill. With one of their two second-round picks in 2005, the Marlins picked Brett Hayes, now the team's backup.

Trend watch
You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time the Marlins went with a college player in the first round. Right-hander Brett Sinkbeil was the choice that year out of Missouri State. The Marlins have never hesitated going with high school players, especially ones from California. Matt Dominguez ('07), Skipworth ('08) and Yelich ('10) are from the Golden State.

Recent Draft History
Rising fast
Yelich, a 19-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder, is moving towards becoming one of the top prospects in the game. In his second full season of pro ball, Yelich is enjoying success at Class A Jupiter in the Florida State League, traditionally a tough place to hit. The organization would be perfectly fine keeping Yelich with the Hammerheads all season to allow him plenty of time to develop. But if he gets hot and shows he needs to be challenged more, don't discount a jump to Double-A Jacksonville sometime in July or August.

Marlins' recent top picks
Year Player Position Current team
2011 Jose Fernandez RHP Class A Greensboro
2010 Christian Yelich OF Class A Jupiter
2009 Chad James LHP Class A Jupiter
2008 Kyle Skipworth C Double-A Jacksonville
2007 Matt Dominguez 3B Triple-A New Orleans
Cinderella story
It's not the most common switch you will see in baseball, but J.T. Realmuto has pulled it off. A third-round pick in 2010, Realmuto was a shortstop in high school. Meek happened to see him catch one game as a prep, which was more than most teams saw. That gave the organization an insider's edge. Now, Realmuto is a rising catching prospect at Class A Jupiter. He's not just a catch-and-throw player: The 21-year-old can hit for average, and he's shown power.

In The Show
Stanton being a three-sport athlete in high school probably worked to the Marlins' advantage. Because had he focused strictly on baseball, chances are Stanton would have been a top-five pick, instead of falling to the second round, where the Marlins picked him in 2007. Stanton slugged his way into the big leagues at age 20 in '10. Now, he's putting up All-Star-worthy numbers in the big leagues.

On their current roster, players drafted by the Marlins include Stanton, Morrison, Josh Johnson, Steve Cishek, Bryan Petersen, Hayes and Coghlan.

Miami Marlins