Marlins pile up pitching down stretch in Draft
Club selects 21 arms after focusing on speed, power in early rounds
MIAMI -- A premium was placed on speed and power in the first three rounds, but the Marlins' main focus in the MLB Draft was to stockpile pitching. They did just that.
The quest for arms was obvious over the three-day event, as the Marlins selected 21 pitchers in 40 rounds. The breakdown was 15 right-handers, and six lefties, including second-round pick Brett Lilek from Arizona State.
"We hit the pitching hard," vice president of scouting Stan Meek said. "We took some high school kids who have upside, and we took some college guys that we like. We did well there."
Lilek and fourth-round right-hander Cody Poteet from UCLA, are accomplished college performers from a major conference. The hope is both will advance quickly through the system.
The two position headliners came in rounds one and three. With the 12th pick, the Marlins selected Josh Naylor, a power-hitting first baseman from St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Canada. Third-rounder, Isaiah White, is a speedy center fielder from Greenfield High School in North Carolina.
The two are young talents with plenty of upside. But they will need time to develop.
"We took big power, which there wasn't a lot of in this Draft," Meek said. "In the third round, we went back to a high school outfielder who has speed, and also has some power."
Justin Cohen (sixth round) is a catcher from Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. He has a commitment to Florida State, but Miami is hopeful to reach a deal.
In its top 10 rounds, pitching dominated.
Lefty Justin Jacome, from the University of California-Santa Barbara, was taken in the fifth round. Travis Neubeck, from Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, went in the seventh round, and he was followed by Texas prep standout Chris Paddack in the eighth round. Reilly Hovis, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was the ninth-round pick from the University of North Carolina, and Kelvin Rivas, a 6-foot-4, 245-pounder, was a 10th-round choice from Oklahoma Baptist University.
"We do need some college pitching," Meek said. "As you see, our pitching usually has size. We kind of buy pitching by the pound, is the term I use. We get big, strong guys. These guys kind of fit what we're after."
On Wednesday, Ryan McKay, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-hander from Satellite (Fla.) High School, was picked in the 11th round. Terry Bennett, a center fielder from Atlantic Coast (Fla.) High, was selected in the 12th round, and in the 13th round, right-hander RJ Peace was picked from Serrano (Calif.) High.
These three are interesting prep athletes.
Bennett, a standout running back, has the opportunity to play football at Florida Atlantic.
"We've talked to him," Meek said. "He's indicated to us that baseball was really his passion," Meek said. "When you take these two-sports guys, if you're just taking them because they're athletic and they don't really know what they want to play, most of the time, I think it doesn't bode well. We feel comfortable we'll be able to get him signed."
McKay and Peace are right-handed pitchers with upside.
"These are the guys we tend to take that we think can really blossom," Meek said.
The Marlins used a couple of later-round picks on sons of former players.
In the 25th round, they selected left fielder Alex Fernandez Jr., whose father Alex Fernandez, was on the 1997 Marlins World Series title team. And in the 31st round, outfielder Griffin Conine, son of Miami special assistant Jeff Conine, was taken.
Fernandez, a senior at Nova Southeastern University (Fla.), is expected to sign. But Conine, from Pine Crest High (Fla.), is likely going to attend Duke.
Miami feels it may have found a gem in the 20th round in catcher Korey Dunbar from the University of North Carolina.
"We did like Dunbar in the 20th round, a college catcher who has been a performer," Meek said. "It may take a little money to sign him."