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Miami likes Kolek's heat, drafts fireballer at No. 2

Texas prep right-hander's fastball highest ever recorded for a high schooler

The Marlins really did dig deep in the heart of Texas to find perhaps the next great power pitcher from the Lone Star State.

With the second overall pick in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft, the Marlins selected Tyler Kolek from Shepherd, Texas -- population of less than 2,500.

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The Marlins really did dig deep in the heart of Texas to find perhaps the next great power pitcher from the Lone Star State.

With the second overall pick in Thursday's First-Year Player Draft, the Marlins selected Tyler Kolek from Shepherd, Texas -- population of less than 2,500.

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Raised on a ranch, Kolek is no stranger to hard work or getting his hands dirty. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder grew up admiring the great Nolan Ryan, who took part in scouting the right-hander for the Astros.

But when Houston selected Brady Aiken, the lefty from San Diego, with the No. 1 overall pick, the Marlins didn't hesitate selecting the 18-year-old Kolek, who possesses the fastest fastball ever recorded by a high school player.

The Marlins clocked Kolek as high as 102 mph. Coupled with his size and upside, Kolek became too tempting to pass up.

"We didn't really see any red flags," Marlins vice president of scouting Stan Meek said. "We spent a lot of hours on him. We helped the economy in Shepherd, Texas."

Along with taking Kolek, the Marlins selected catcher Blake Anderson from West Lauderdale High School in Collinsville, Miss., with the 36th overall pick. And in the second round, with the No. 43 choice, Miami capped its first day by going with infielder Justin Twine from Falls City High School in Texas.

The Marlins are confident they will be able to sign all three of the picks.

"We feel very confident," Meek said. "We've spoken with them about what they're thinking. We think we'll get something done with them. We feel like they're all three signable kids. Those are significant picks with significant dollar values attached. We think it really shouldn't be a problem."

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The pregame show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m.

Kolek follows a long line of Texas fireballers.

Meek says there are similarities to Roger Clemens, another Texas native. The last time the Marlins selected a right-hander from Texas with the No. 2 overall choice, it panned out. In 1999, the organization picked Josh Beckett out of Spring, Texas.

Four years later, Beckett hoisted a championship trophy and was named the 2003 World Series MVP.

Kolek is an unfinished product, but he has all the makings of a future star.

"This has just been the most amazing day in the world," Kolek said.

Amazement actually comes from those who have seen Kolek pitch. As a senior, he simply dominated, posting an 0.36 ERA with 126 strikeouts and eight walks in 60 1/3 innings.

"We met with the family in January," Meek said. "We spent upwards of 100 hours on him, with all the flights in and out of there. All the things you need to do. When you're picking that high, you sure want to feel good about everything about the player. Not just the on-field performance, but how he handles himself around the field, how he handles himself around his teammates."

The Marlins kept a close watch on Kolek. But the kid raised on a 10,000-acre ranch wasn't aware Miami had enough interest to make him the second pick overall.

"Honestly, we had a meeting with them and we talked baseball questions and stuff like that," Kolek said. "I took them around the ranch and showed them some deer. That was just about the last I'd heard from them until now. Until this moment, I had no idea what was going to happen."

The Marlins clearly felt Kolek was a safe bet, and they needed to. The slot money for the No. 2 selection is $6,821,800. If Miami is unable to sign Kolek, he has a commitment to Texas Christian University.

Because of Kolek's humble upbringing, the Marlins are confident the right-hander is a safe investment.

"It's a little different growing up on a ranch than city life," Kolek said. "You get up at 6 o'clock in the morning to go feed cattle or go fix a fence. It's hot out there. It gets up to 105, 110 degrees, with humidity. I think it makes you a lot tougher than the average high school kid."

Once Aiken was off the board, the Marlins had already zeroed in on Kolek, opting for the right-hander over North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon, among others.

"We worked through a lot of things," Meek said. "We had it down to six guys we liked, then down to four. The last couple of days, we just settled on [Kolek].

"There were some other guys up there we had interest in too, but in the end, we kind of targeted that this is our guy. This is the guy we hope gets to us. We thought it could happen, but with Houston picking first, and he being in that state, you always get nervous."

When weighing through all factors, the Marlins, like so many hitters, were blown away by Kolek's fastball.

"I had always thrown hard for my age," Kolek said. "I was 94 [mph] my junior year before I broke my arm. After I broke my arm, the very first start I made, I threw 102."

Meek said it's the hardest he's ever seen. In 2011, when Jose Fernandez was the 16th overall pick by Miami, he was throwing 98 mph.

"I think 98 is about the best I'd ever seen," Meek said. "I think I saw Jose pitch that in high school. I saw a couple of other kids up that high. I think [Kolek's] is kind of a unique fastball.

"The one thing he's got to be careful of is he doesn't get enamored with the counts the [radar] guns read, just go pitch."

With power becoming such a big part of the game, 100-mph fastballs become an adrenaline rush, not only for the pitchers, but the fans and the media.

If Kolek can control his velocity and improve the polish on his breaking ball, he will rise quickly through the system.

There also is injury concern when talking about hard throwers.

"I really think when guys try to get to the top-end velocity, that's when they get hurt," Meek said. "He's got plenty of arm strength without trying to force anything. That's what we really like, a good fastball that's not being forced.

"The command of the fastball is pretty good for a high school kid. We'd hope he'd move up rather quickly, but he kind of puts that on himself."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Miami Marlins