MIAMI -- The Marlins didn't really throw a curveball into the MLB Draft. With the seventh overall pick, they went as many expected on Thursday, taking left-hander Braxton Garrett from Florence, Ala., who is regarded as having the best curveball of any prep player on the board.The Marlins have never
MIAMI -- The Marlins didn't really throw a curveball into the MLB Draft. With the seventh overall pick, they went as many expected on Thursday, taking left-hander Braxton Garrett from Florence, Ala., who is regarded as having the best curveball of any prep player on the board.
The Marlins have never shied away from taking high school pitchers high in the Draft. They went with Tyler Kolek second overall in 2014, while Jose Fernandez was the 14th overall pick in '11.
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Garrett is regarded as polished, with a clean delivery. As a senior at Florence High School, he posted a 0.53 ERA, striking out 131 in 65 1/3 innings.
"I think he's one of the more polished high school kids we've probably ever taken," said Marlins vice president of scouting Stan Meek. "He's a left-hander who's already got pitches in place. He's a strike-thrower. His delivery is kind of in place. There will be a few tweaks, but nothing major."
The way he goes about his business reminds the Marlins of former big league All-Star Cliff Lee.
"He has one of the better curveballs I've seen," Meek said. "Probably the top five curveballs I've seen. He's got plus control of it."
Garrett, 18, is a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder who has been regarded as the best prep pitcher out of the state of Alabama since Kasey Kiker went 12th overall to the Rangers in 2006.
Garrett said his dad taught him how to throw a curveball when he was 13, and ever since, the pitch has been a weapon to go along with a 91-94 mph fastball and a changeup.
"It's a pretty generic grip, just right on the horseshoe," Garrett said. "I've tried to throw it right over top, kind of a 12-6. But as I've developed as a pitcher, and physically, I can manipulate the movement and the grip a little bit. That's a big pitch for me. It's worked out well for me so far."
Garrett's favorite pitcher also is known for having a wipeout curveball -- multiple National League Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw.
"He's awesome," Garrett said. "Just everything about Kershaw, I love."
Signing Garrett is the next step for the Marlins.
The recommended bonus slot for the seventh selection is $3,756,300, but that doesn't mean Garrett will be offered the full amount. The lefty is being represented by Boras Corp. He is a Vanderbilt University commit.
Teams frequently work out deals at a lower figure and allocate the difference to sign players in later rounds. Miami has nine picks in the first 10 rounds, and their entire bonus pool to get them all signed is $6,665,900.
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
The Marlins' second pick is in the third round, 84th overall. Initially, they had a Lottery Round A pick, but it was dealt to the Braves last July as part of the Mat Latos /Michael Morse trade to the Dodgers. And Miami's second-round pick went to the Orioles as compensation for signing lefty Wei-Yin Chen.
Garrett is the first prep left-hander the Marlins have taken in the first round since Chad James (2009). In '13, they selected college lefty Andrew Heaney.
The Marlins have traditionally leaned toward pitchers in the first round. Garrett is the latest.
"I think if you're talking about the most value for a pick, normally, he affects every pitch of the game when you're on defense," Meek said. "An outfielder, he may not get a ball for the whole game. He's going to get four at-bats. I think the most value for the money, the most time, is on pitching."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.