With abundance of picks, Marlins ready to restock
Power, pitching the focuses as franchise has five selections in first 80
MIAMI -- If you are looking for franchise-player types, chances are you won't find one in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. The general feeling is this year's class doesn't have another Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper or Mike Trout.
That said, it doesn't mean the 2013 Draft is completely void of high-end talent, either.
For an organization like the Miami Marlins that is looking to address multiple needs, the hope is that having quantity makes up for what may be a lack of high-end quality.
One reason the Marlins promise to be among the most active teams is because they have so many picks, especially early. They possess five of the first 80 overall picks -- Nos. 6, 35, 44, 73 and 80.
With their first pick at sixth overall, they are well positioned to land a future impact player.
"Just looking at the Draft overall, I would say it is not a strong Draft in a general sense," said Stan Meek, Miami's vice president of scouting. "But as we always talk about, there are good players in every Draft. Our job is to evaluate them as well as you can."
With so many picks in the first few rounds, the personnel department has been on the go for quite some time. The legwork got underway in early January, when Meek attended a showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., which featured high-profile players from Puerto Rico.
"For us, it has created more work than I can probably remember, going back to '05 when we had all those picks," Meek said.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In terms of volume of picks, this year is similar to 2005, when the Marlins had five picks before the second round. The list included three in the first round and two compensation-round choices.
The hope this year is the club's Draft class will be more productive than the 2005 version, which was headlined by right-hander Chris Volstad, who is no longer with the organization. In fact, none of the top five picks from that class are still in the Marlins' system.
The challenge for the club this season is making the right choices.
"I think you're going to have to be a little more picky as far as how you do things," Meek said. "I don't think the depth of the Draft is great. I don't think the top of the Draft is great. You just have to sift through it and mine out the best guys."
From top to bottom, the Marlins are going through a restructuring period. They've redirected, going with younger players to form the nucleus for a brighter future. By doing so, they're putting extra emphasis on developing from within, which increases the importance of the Draft.
An area of need is power bats. That's evident right now at the big league level, as Miami ranks last in the Majors in home runs. With slugger Giancarlo Stanton missing so much time with a right hamstring injury, the Marlins are hurting in the power department. They'll be looking for players capable of impacting games with one swing.
Along with power, the Marlins once again are putting a premium on pitching.
When it comes time to actually making their selections, the Marlins once again will lean toward the best available.
"If you start looking for what you need over what the best player is, you start looking at secondary guys," Meek said. "We need bats, and we need power. Trying to find some guys that fit that is what we're trying to do.
"What we've always tried to do is take the best player with the best upside, who fits what we're trying to do. It's been a challenge in that regard, because it is not an overly deep Draft."
Here's a glance at what the Marlins have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
With an emphasis on youth and development, this is an important Draft to continue bolstering the Minor League system. Power and front-line pitching continues to be a priority. "You never have enough pitching," Meek said. "I think pitching in every Draft will always be an emphasis for us."
The last time the Marlins picked as high as sixth overall was in 2008, when they selected catcher Kyle Skipworth, who currently is at Triple-A New Orleans. Being so close to the top puts Miami in an enviable position, but there is no guarantee a "can't miss" player will be around. "There probably is a consensus three or four guys at the top that everybody likes quite a bit," Meek said of the Draft's high-end depth. "I think those guys are going to be taken very quickly."
A power bat is in high demand for the Marlins, but if one isn't available, the likely fallback plan is to load up on pitching.
There are a pair of college-groomed third basemen with power that would each fit what Miami is looking for: Kris Bryant and Colin Moran. Chances are both will be gone. If that's the case, a couple of high school pitchers, right-hander Kohl Stewart from Texas and lefty Trey Ball out of Indiana, are possibilities. Another candidate to keep an eye on is Braden Shipley from the University of Nevada. The right-hander sports a 98-mph fastball.
Marlins' bonus pool
Under the 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.
The Marlins have a total to spend of $9,503,100, which averages out to $791,925, ranking them fourth among Major League teams for the amount of available money they can spend.
The recommended slot value limits assigned to the Marlins' first (sixth overall) and second (35th overall) picks are $3,516,500 and $1,587,700, respectively.
The Marlins had a streak of five straight years of selecting a high school player in the first round snapped a year ago when they went with left-hander Andrew Heaney from Oklahoma State.
If the organization is seeking players who need less time to develop, again it could lean toward college-groomed talent.
"We have a lot of history on a lot of these college guys," Meek said.
With so many high picks, there is a chance to address a number of needs. If there isn't a power bat available at sixth overall, there will be a front-line pitcher, and the Draft should still offer a quality position player early in the second round. Left-handed pitching is always in demand, as is catching.
• Recent Draft History •
Christian Yelich, a first-rounder in 2010, is likely days away from getting promoted from Double-A Jacksonville to the big leagues. Ranked by MLB.com as Miami's No. 2 prospect, Yelich is a left-handed-hitting outfielder who projects to be a .300-caliber hitter in the big leagues. He is expected to be called up by mid-June.
For Jose Fernandez, just getting to the United States was a triumphant story. The 20-year-old right-hander defected from Cuba five years ago, and he has overcome the odds to reach the Majors without pitching higher than Class A ball. Fernandez has already shown the makings of a star, and he projects as a future ace.
In The Show
Fernandez is one of two former Marlins first-round picks on the current roster. The right-hander, taken 14th overall in 2011, is joined by outfielder Chris Coghlan, a compensation-round pick in 2006.
Another Draft success story is Steve Cishek, a fifth-rounder in 2007.
And there are a couple of homegrown picks currently on the disabled list -- Stanton (2007, second round) and first baseman Logan Morrison (2005, 22nd round).
Marlins' recent top picks
2012: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Class A Jupiter
2011: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Miami Marlins
2010: Christian Yelich, OF, Double-A Jacksonville
2009: Chad James, LHP, extended spring
2008: Kyle Skipworth, C, Triple-A New Orleans