Draft Preview: Unclear intentions
Marlins always look for pitching, but won't pass up big bat
MIAMI -- You can't automatically say the Marlins' top priority is to find their next Josh Johnson or Chris Volstad. The past two years have shown -- they are also searching for another Miguel Cabrera or Hanley Ramirez.
Pitching remains the Marlins' highest priority, but not at the expense of overlooking major impact position players. A quick review shows the organization weighs all possibilities.
"Pitching makes the world go around. But again, we're not going to force it," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting.
Position players were their top picks in 2007 and 2008. Could they lean that way again in '09? It's not as clear-cut as last year.
Florida picked sixth overall last year, and choosing that high made it a little easier to single out who could be available. Catcher Kyle Skipworth became the choice. Now, with the 18th overall pick, there is less certainty.
Fleming maintains the Marlins will seek the best player available.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at noon on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Here's a glance at what the Marlins have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
From the Marlins' perspective, you have San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg at the top of the class, and then some disagreement. The order of the first six or seven picks isn't a given. Also, there seems to be depth in pitching at the college level, and in general, there is more pitching than hitting.
"This is a year where there is very few clear-cut guys at the top. There is the one guy, and then it's going to be unsettled. A lot of scenarios, a lot of different things can happen. Guys can get to us that we don't expect to get to us. You have to be ready. You have to be ready for a big number of people, so it spreads you a little thinner." -- Fleming
All things being equal, the organization leans foremost to pitching. If not, then the best player available becomes the choice. A couple of pitchers to keep an eye on are right-hander Eric Arnett from Indiana University and Chad James, a left-hander from Yukon High School in Oklahoma. James has committed to Oklahoma State if he doesn't sign with an MLB team.
The club won't reach for a pitcher, however, if they can secure an impact player. Should he still be on the board, third baseman Bobby Borchering of Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers, Fla., could be the choice.
Considering the number of young pitchers now making their way into the big leagues for the Marlins, adding pitching is once again at a premium. Middle infielders are another area where depth is a bit low in the system. Like pitching, quality catching always is in demand. Even with Skipworth being taken last year, another catcher or two is on the list.
From 2003-06, the Marlins selected pitchers with their first-round picks. That changed in 2007 when third baseman Matt Dominguez went first, and last year, Skipworth went in round 1.
Recent top picks
2008: -- Skipworth, a left-handed-hitting 19-year-old out of Riverside, Calif., was taken with the sixth overall pick. He's now at low Class A Greensboro. A 6-foot-4 left-handed batter, he has a bright future, according to the Marlins.
2007: -- Now a 19-year-old from Chatsworth, Calif., Dominguez is at Class A Jupiter and he projects to be at Double-A Jacksonville next year. A slick-fielding third baseman, he is adjusting to the higher level of pitching.
2006: -- Right-handed pitcher Brett Sinkbeil, taken 19th overall, is still waiting for his first big league opportunity. The 24-year-old has gone from the starting rotation at Triple-A New Orleans to a reliever role. He was in big league camp with the Marlins in Spring Training, and has been struggling as a starter.
Outfielder Michael Stanton, taken in the second round of the 2007 Draft, is listed at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds. The 19-year-old is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. A former football star who turned down a scholarship to play at the University of Southern California, Stanton is posting big numbers at Class A Jupiter. By the end of 2010, he could be big league-ready.
An impressive left-handed-hitting first baseman, Logan Morrison is at Double-A Jacksonville after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2005. However, in the second game of the season he suffered a fracture to his left thumb and he hasn't played since. Still, Morrison is regarded as a future star in the big leagues. He can also play left field.
In The Show
The fruits of recent Drafts are already surfacing. Vostad, taken 16th overall in 2005, has emerged as a front-line starter. The 6-foot-8 right-hander from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is a 22-year-old who has the makings of being a top-of-the-rotation starter for years to come.
From the 2005 class, left-hander Sean West, also at 6-foot-8, recently made his big league debut. West missed all of 2007 because of shoulder surgery. He was a compensatory first-round choice in '05.
Chris Coghlan, a compensatory first-round pick in 2006, was tearing up Triple-A before being called up in early May. He switched from third base to left field, and he has assumed the Marlins' leadoff hitter spot.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.