MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It's been a very fun season so far for the Miami Marlins who continue to exceed the low expectations that came with winning only 62 games and being the worst offensive team in baseball in 2013. The Marlins organization has done a great job piecing together a strong combination of youth and experience, and the results have been superb as Miami is currently holding the first of two Wild Card spots in the National League and trail Atlanta by just a half game in the NL East.
While the Marlins have a chance to move into first place in the division by the end of the day, the team will shift their focus to the future as tonight is the MLB's First-Year Player Draft. Miami is in possession of the second overall pick in the draft and has an opportunity to choose between several top-tier prospects.
Miami has held the second overall pick once before. Back in 1999 the then Florida Marlins were in the same position but there wasn't much mystery surrounding who the selection would be. In that draft there were two prospects that everybody knew would be selected with the first two picks, and for the Marlins it was just a matter of taking whichever player that the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays passed on.
The Devil Rays ended up selecting outfielder Josh Hamilton leaving the Marlins to draft a right-handed pitcher out of Texas by the name of Josh Beckett.
This year Miami is in a similar situation as they will have to wait and see who the Houston Astros take with the first overall pick, though the options aren't as cut-and-dry as they were back in 1999.
"All of us probably feel there's not one particular guy that stands out above the rest, but there are a lot of good players up there," said Stan Meek, the Marlins' Vice President of Scouting. "We've probably got it down to about four guys."
That group of four likely consists of prep righty Tyler Kolek, prep lefty Brady Aiken, North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon and prep catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson. Considering that the Marlins farm system is much deeper at the pitcher position then they are with big hitters, it wouldn't be surprising to see Miami select Jackson if the Astros don't pick him with their first overall choice.
"They're playing it close to the vest and I understand that, but it won't really effect what we do," Meek added. "We'll put our board together regardless of what [the Astros] do."
"Obviously at number two you've got to select a standout guy."
Meek also mentioned that this year's draft is a deep one which is a good thing for the Marlins who hold six of the first 107 picks.
The organization has allocated $12.8 million to be used on signing bonuses which is the second-highest amount among all 30 MLB teams.
Regarding the second overall pick, the value that has been assigned to that slot is $6.8 million, though the Marlins have never spent more than $3,625,000 on a signing bonus. That is what Miami agreed to give Josh Beckett after he was drafted back in '99.
Last year the Marlins drafted third baseman Colin Moran with the sixth overall selection and gave him a $3,516,500 signing bonus. Moran hit a home run in his first professional at bat for the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the Class A South Atlantic League but suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) while attending Miami's 2014 Spring Training.
Moran began the season on the disabled list before being assigned to the Class A Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League. He has played in 41 games for Jupiter, batting .263 with one home run and 14 RBI's in 167 total at bats.
Should the Astros decide to select a pitcher with the first overall pick in tonight's draft, it makes sense for Miami to draft Jackson and add his bat to a farm system that is lacking in that department. It's likely that Jackson would focus on playing in the outfield instead of behind the plate as a catcher.
The Marlins could view a selection of Jackson, who is known for his home run hitting power, as an insurance policy in case Miami has a hard time signing Giancarlo Stanton to a contract extension.
Even if the Marlins don't end up with Jackson, the three pitchers at the top of the draft are all good enough that Miami should be pleased with whoever they select.
The MLB First-Year Player Draft will begin at 7pm and will be televised live on MLB Network.
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