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In first Draft under Jeter, Marlins add athleticism

Chief executive officer gives input as club selects young players
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

ST. LOUIS -- Being strong up the middle has long been a formula for success in the big leagues, and the Marlins certainly followed that path in the 2018 MLB Draft, which concluded on Wednesday.

With their top three picks in the three-day Draft, the Marlins went with center fielder Connor Scott, shortstop Osiris Johnson and catcher Will Banfield, further reminding that the organization will continue to build with athletes who can play premium positions.

ST. LOUIS -- Being strong up the middle has long been a formula for success in the big leagues, and the Marlins certainly followed that path in the 2018 MLB Draft, which concluded on Wednesday.

With their top three picks in the three-day Draft, the Marlins went with center fielder Connor Scott, shortstop Osiris Johnson and catcher Will Banfield, further reminding that the organization will continue to build with athletes who can play premium positions.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

"Our intention going into this was to get athletes," Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said. "In terms of position players, but with pitchers as well. We want them both to be athletic. We wanted guys that played in the middle of the field, in terms of position players. I think about 80 or 90 percent of the guys that we drafted are either center fielders, shortstops or catchers. Those are the types of players we targeted. I felt like we did a really good job of identifying those players."

Day 3 of the Draft wrapped up with picks 11-40, capping three frantic days of selections. On Wednesday, the club drafted 20 pitchers, with 18 coming from colleges.

The Marlins had 41 picks in 40 rounds, and they selected 25 pitchers, seven outfielders, four catchers, four shortstops and one third baseman.

The next step is seeing how many will sign. The Marlins have already locked up their top pick as Scott, taken 13th overall from Plant High School in Tampa, Fla., agreed to terms on Tuesday, pending completion of his physical.

A University of Florida commit, Scott is opting to start his professional baseball career. Miami chief executive officer Derek Jeter informed Scott that he had been selected by the Marlins.

"They've got a great staff," Scott said. "Derek Jeter has got all the connections, and I'm really looking forward to being able to rebuild and hoping we can win a lot more games and bring a World Series back to Miami."

Video: Draft 2018: Marlins draft OF Connor Scott No. 13

The Marlins are in a building period. This was the first Draft under the new ownership, led by principal owner Bruce Sherman and Jeter.

"Derek was in the room and had a lot to say," Denbo said. "He believes, as I do, that it's very important to put good athletes on the field. Above-average players are the types of players that win championships. I know he believes that. He wants players who know how to play the game, not only athletes, but athletes with baseball skills and guys who play the game right."

Since the new ownership took over, the Marlins have been aiming to be more athletic as they've restocked their system. They previously acquired a number of pitchers through trades made in the offseason and dating back to last June.

With their first four picks, the Marlins went with position players, with their top three being prep standouts. Johnson is from Encinal (Calif.) High School, and he went in the second round (No. 53 overall). Banfield, from Brookwood (Ga.) High School, was a Competitive Balance Round B selection, No. 69 overall. In the third round, outfielder Tristan Pompey was taken from the University of Kentucky.

Johnson and Pompey have bloodlines to the big leagues. Johnson's cousin is former Phillies All-Star Jimmy Rollins, and Pompey's older brother, Dalton, plays for the Blue Jays.

Rollins has worked with Johnson in the past, which may have helped the 17-year-old's development.

Video: Draft 2018: Marlins draft SS Osiris Johnson No. 53

"I'm sure that had something to do with the vast improvements Osiris Johnson made from last summer to this spring, which enabled him to be in position for us to take him in the Draft," Denbo said. "I think it's always good to have somebody in the family that's been through those types of experiences to advise a player. It's really important to have a support system for Minor League players that are coming through, because it's a tough game."

An eye on catching also was evident. The Marlins are thin organizationally, and Banfield has a chance to be a solid everyday big leaguer. Signing him will be a challenge because he is a Vanderbilt University commit.

The Marlins also used two early Day 2 picks on catchers. Nick Fortes from Ole Miss and Cameron Barstad from Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., went in rounds four and six, respectively.

"We value catching," Denbo said. "It's a very difficult position to find. Teams do not give up catching when they're trying to do deals at the [non-waiver] Trade Deadline or in the offseason. If you have a catcher who has a chance to produce on offense and is an excellent receiver, it's just very difficult to acquire those types of players."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

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