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2010 Draft Preview - Florida Marlins

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The nineteenth part of my draft preview series is on the Florida Marlins and their scouting director Stan Meek. Meek has run the Marlins’ drafts since 2003, but I will focus on the most recent five, starting in 2005.

Owner: Jeffrey Loria, bought club in 2002
General Manager: Michael Hill, first season was 2008
Scouting Director: Stan Meek, first draft was 2003

Looking Back

2005 Draft: $7.7 Million Budget

1. Chris Volstad, RHP, Palm Beach Garden HS (FL), #16 Overall: Volstad was the first of three true first round picks in Meek’s third draft with the Marlins. He was a true first-rounder on most boards, and he offered tons of projection and was still signable. Solid first pick. Following players selected: C.J. Henry, Cesar Carrillo, John Mayberry. Signing bonus: $1,600,000.
2. Aaron Thompson, LHP, Second Baptist HS (TX), #22 Overall: Thompson wasn’t considered a universal first round prospect, but he was far more advanced than even the top level of prep starting pitchers. There were major concerns about his ceiling, but the Marlins felt his high floor made him attractive. Following players selected: Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Bogusevic, Matt Garza. Signing bonus: $1,225,000.
3. Jacob Marceaux, RHP, McNeese State, #29 Overall: Marceaux was a borderline first round draft prospect, mainly due to not being on the prospect scene for very long and also due to questions about his long-term role. He still offered a fresh arm for a collegiate pitcher, plus extra upside. Following players selected: Tyler Greene, Matt Torra, Chaz Roe. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
4. Ryan Tucker, RHP, Temple City HS (CA), #34 Overall: Tucker was a closely-followed SoCal prospect with a plus to plus-plus fastball, but little else. Still, teams loved his quick arm, despite having little feel for any sort of breaking balls. He was expected to go in the area of the second round, and this was a solid pick. Following players selected: Cesar Ramos, Travis Buck, Trevor Bell. Signing bonus: $975,000.
5. Sean West, LHP, Captain Shreve HS (LA), #44 Overall: West was considered a solid, signable prep arm that was expected to go in the supplemental first round to late second round range. He was huge, standing 6’8’’, and the projectability with the size was attractive to scouts. Following players selected: Jed Lowrie, Tyler Herron, Michael Bowden. Signing bonus: $775,000.
Other Notable Selections: C Gaby Sanchez (4th), Miami, $250K bonus; RHP Chris Leroux (7th), Winthrop, $152K bonus; 1B Logan Morrison, Northshore HS (LA), $225K bonus.

2006 Draft: $5.1 Million Budget

1. Brett Sinkbeil, RHP, Missouri State, #19 Overall: Sinkbeil was a solid first-round prospect, and while he didn’t offer a lot in terms of upside, he offered relative safety. He profiled as a signable mid-rotation starter, and this was a solid start to the 2006 draft for Meek. Following players selected: Chris Parmelee, Ian Kennedy, Colton Willems. Signing bonus: $1,525,000.
2. Chris Coghlan, 3B, Ole Miss, #36 Overall: Coghlan was considered more of a second to fourth round prospect, but few doubted his hit tool. Most scouts didn’t think he’d developed much power, and his defense wasn’t sparkling, but he was a solid, signable pick, another in a line for Meek’s 2006 draft. Following players selected: Adrian Cardenas, Cory Rasmus, David Huff. Signing bonus: $950,000.
3. Tom Hickman, OF, Pepperell HS (GA), #63 Overall: Hickman was considered more of a pitching prospect than hitting prospect for some teams, but the Marlins liked Hickman’s upside with the bat. He wasn’t considered an early prospect, though, so this second round selection seemed a bit strange at the time. Following players selected: Joe Benson, Drew Carpenter, Trevor Cahill. Signing bonus: $575,000.
4. Torre Langley, C, Alexander HS (GA), #90 Overall: Langley was considered a solid fourth to sixth round prospect as a defense-first catcher. He was known on the national stage for his defensive skills, but there were plenty of doubts about his bat, leading to concerns about his high-level ability. Following players selected: Stephen King, Cole Gillespie, Cedric Hunter. Signing bonus: $422,500.
5. Scott Cousins, OF, San Francisco, #95 Overall: Cousins was a gritty college player that was also known as a pitcher to some scouts. He featured solid power upside, along with solid defensive potential, though he rated as a ‘tweener, without enough power for right field or enough speed for center. However, this was a solid pick. Following players selected: Tyler Robertson, Jason Donald, Matt Sulentic. Signing bonus: $407,500.
Other Notable Selections: OF John Raynor (9th), UNC Wilmington, $17,500 bonus.

2007 Draft: $3.7 Million Budget

1. Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth HS (CA), #12 Overall: Dominguez was a very good all-around high school prospect, and he was Mike Moustakas’ teammate in a year where they both went in the top 12 picks. Dominguez had solid hit and power tools, as well as excellent defensive tools. Following players selected: Beau Mills, Jason Heyward, Devin Mesoraco. Signing bonus: $1,800,000.
2. Mike Stanton, OF, Notre Dame HS (CA), #76 Overall: Stanton was always a big-time power prospect, but he’s also always struggled with pitch recognition and contact. He featured solid all-around tools, though the raw power was his only true plus tool. Following players selected: Scott Moviel, Freddie Freeman, Zack Cozart. Signing bonus: $475,000.
3. Jameson Smith, C, Fresno CC (CA), #106 Overall: Smith was a surprise third round draftee, as he had plenty of questions about both his glove and bat. He was more athletic than the usual college catcher, and he did flash some potential to hit for average at the plate, as well as with some power. He was expected to go a few rounds later. Following players selected: Brandon Workman, Brandon Hicks, Neftali Soto. Signing bonus: $310,000.
4. Bryan Petersen, OF, UC Irvine, #136 Overall: Petersen was similar in a way to Stanton in that he was a solidly-athletic outfielder with raw power, but he struggled with pitch recognition and making contact. Petersen was a bit faster than Stanton, but he was expected to go a few rounds later than that. Following players selected: Timothy McFarland, Cory Gearrin, Blake Stouffer. Signing bonus: $191,250.
5. Steven Cishek, RHP, Carson-Newman, #166 Overall: Cishek was considered a better prospect than Smith and Petersen, who were taken ahead of him by Meek. He was an unknown prospect out of high school, and he was only a reliever in college, so there were plenty of questions about him, but his arm was of high quality. Following players selected: Jonathan Holt, Dennis Dixon, Drew Bowman. Signing bonus: $139,500.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Garrett Parcell (12th), San Diego State.

2008 Draft: $5.4 Million Budget

1. Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS (CA), #6 Overall: Skipworth was universally considered a lock to become a plus hitter in terms of both batting average and power at the pro level. Little did we all know. He was a solid top ten prospect in the 2008 class, and this pick wasn’t second-guessed by many insiders. Following players selected: Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow. Signing bonus: $2,300,000.
2. Brad Hand, LHP, Chaska HS (MN), #52 Overall: Hand was considered a third or fourth round prospect, but there were flashes of a better prospect throughout the spring. He featured good upside as a cold-weather arm, and the lack of innings on his arm was also a plus for some scouts. Following players selected: Seth Lintz, Cutter Dykstra, Destin Hood. Signing bonus: $760,000.
3. Edgar Olmos, LHP, Birmingham HS (CA), #83 Overall: Olmos was considered more of a fourth or fifth round prospect, but his projectability was a big draw for a number of teams. His motion was pretty strange, and some questioned his ability to change it in the pros, but if he could be corrected, his upside was immense. Following players selected: Zach Stewart, Stephen Fife, Brent Morel. Signing bonus: $478,000.
4. Curtis Petersen, RHP, Ryan HS (TX), #118 Overall: Petersen was considered more of a seventh to tenth round prospect, but with a good amount of projectability. The problem was that he was almost completely projection and not as much current production. Interesting pick, but one with good upside. Following players selected: Tyler Cline, Drew O’Neil, Graham Hicks. Signing bonus: $350,000.
5. Pete Andrelczyk, RHP, Coastal Carolina, #148 Overall: Andrelczyk was a solid college reliever that had setup man potential. He was expected to be picked in this range as a 22 year old junior that didn’t have much incentive to return to school after a great redshirt junior year. Following players selected: Clayton Shunick, Dan Hudson, Adrian Nieto. Signing bonus: $185,000.
Other Notable Selections: OF Isaac Galloway (8th), Los Osos HS (CA), $245K bonus; RHP Tom Koehler (18th), SUNY Stony Brook.

2009 Draft: $4.3 Million Budget

1. Chad James, LHP, Yukon HS (OK), #18 Overall: James slowly worked his way up draft boards in the spring of his senior year after an extensive conditioning program saw him increase his velocity and command. He offered big upside, and he was more signable than the other options on the board. Following players selected: Shelby Miller, Chad Jenkins, Jiovanni Mier. Signing bonus: $1,700,000.
2. Bryan Berglund, RHP, Royal HS (CA), #66 Overall: Berglund was considered more of a third to fifth round prospect, but his projectability was also attractive to pro scouts. A Swedish citizen, Berglund had a solid arsenal, showing good upside with solid performance in the current. Following players selected: Robert Stock, Jake Eliopoulos, Tanner Bushue. Signing bonus: $572,500.
3. Marquise Cooper, OF, Edison HS (CA), #97 Overall: Cooper wasn’t even on my radar for a first day prospect, and I don’t think many teams valued him this highly. He was very athletic, featuring plus to plus-plus speed, and he offered some upside with the bat. Following players selected: Joe Kelly, Jake Barrett, Telvin Nash. Signing bonus: $345,000.
4. Dan Mahoney, RHP, Connecticut, #128 Overall: Mahoney was a solid college prospect with remaining upside, and the Marlins liked what they saw from him. He featured a plus fastball and a solid breaking ball, but he had bad luck after signing, going down to Tommy John surgery. Following players selected: Scott Bittle, Ryan Goins, B.J. Hyatt. Signing bonus: $222,300.
5. Chase Austin, SS, Elon, #158 Overall: Austin was a solid college performer that profiled as a utility man at the next level. He had good upside with the bat, as he had a simply and repeatable stroke, and he was expected to be taken in the top seven rounds for his versatility and hit tool. Following players selected: Ryan Jackson, Ryan Schimpf, Brandon Wikoff. Signing bonus: $155,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.

Stan Meek is one of the most respected evaluators in the game of baseball. Having run seven drafts with the Marlins now, he’s right up there with the most experienced scouting directors of the game. He rounds out that experience with an additional seven years of experience as a national crosschecker, five years of area scout experience, and 14 years of coaching at the collegiate level. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the type of respect that such an amount of experience commands. Meek is signed through 2011, and he probably has better job security than almost any scouting director in the business. Knowing this background, let’s step into Meek’s recent history for some trends to his drafting. It becomes immediately apparent that Meek prefers prep players over collegiate ones, with the collegiate players all having either solid to plus tools or plus pitches. In terms of pitching, Meek loves the projectable prep arm, especially from the left side when they’re available. That will produce a larger number of busts than a lot of teams, but will also end in bigger successes with the ones that do end up being hits. On the hitting side, Meek loves power and speed, especially in some form of a combination. Matt Dominguez offered the hitting tools, without the speed, but he had a power arm and plus glove instead. In general, every hitting prospect that Meek drafts will have either speed or power, some with both, though those are rare in any draft class. Geographically, it should be noted that the Marlins WILL TAKE someone from California in the first day. It’s almost an inevitability. California is their breeding ground. In addition, Texas gets a fair amount of their attention, and they’re not afraid of cold-weather states. These are all trends to keep in mind, though the past is not always the predictor of the future that us historians like to think it is.

Looking at draft budgeting, it becomes pretty clear that the Marlins’ draft budgets rely heavily on how many picks they have. They almost always draft for slot, and they always pay slot, and while that limits their options, it has worked for them so far. The 2005 draft is an aberration in terms of pure spending, but when you look at slots, it was extraordinarily normal for them. They simply had more picks. In the most recent five years, the Marlins have spent the 19th-most on draft bonuses, comfortably higher than their corresponding Major League spending. Comparing current scouting director budgets with those that have had a draft with their current club, Meek’s average of $5.24 million allotted comes in 17th if you keep the Red Sox in the equation. That’s all very average, but when you look at the fact that they almost always pay slot, it’s respectable. Looking at the upcoming 2010 draft, the Marlins own picks 23, 73, 104, 137, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in every round in the natural order in which they finished in the 2009 standings, meaning they gained no compensation picks and lost none, as well. I would expect their draft spending to equal roughly $4 million, putting them comfortably in the bottom third of my projections for teams. However, they’re spending that much due to growing success at the Major League level, so there’s not much for arguing against success.

Connecting the Marlins to specific players is tough right now, since signability is such a concern in their drafting strategy. However, I’ll give it a shot as usual. My latest mock draft has connected them to California athletic prep catcher Stefan Sabol, who features power, speed, and a California connection, satisfying multiple levels of the Meek philosophy. Sabol’s a borderline first round prospect himself, and the biggest question is his signability, which is a complete question mark right now, probably even to Sabol himself. Other names that could be a possibility there include Chevez Clarke, A.J. Vanegas if his Stanford commitment isn’t as expensive as thought, and possibly Peter Tago or Taijuan Walker, who are more borderline that the other names for that slot. Later names could include Aaron Sanchez, Michael Lorenzen, and Nick Tepesch for the second round, then Jesus Valdez, Adam Plutko, Cory Hahn, and Griffin Murphy for later rounds, though Murphy has been gaining steam after a solid showing earlier in the month. These names are all speculative for now, but they all fit the criteria for Meek’s drafting philosophy. It has generally worked well to fill in the Marlins’ system in the past, and I expect Meek to continue with what has worked in the past.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think? What will the Marlins do?