Category: MLB Draft

Recapping The Draft: Rounds 21-40

Brandon Rawe

The Marlins’ scouting department flexed its muscle on the second day of the draft, finding some great talent at low priced picks as well as getting in on the ground floor of some very projectable high schoolers. Let’s take a look.

21 – #626 – SS Giovanny Alfonzo – University of Tampa
Grade: B+

Alfonzo is a stout 5’11”, 185 middle infielder Florida native from Palm Beach County. Proven by the fact that he ran a 7.01 60 in his senior year, Alfonzo has plus speed, attributing itself to his good arm, good footwork and quick hands, making him a well-equipped defensive player with the small build to match. His quick reaction time and solid physical tools are maintained at the plate. He times his swings well, staying back well on breaking stuff and swinging through the ball with solid line drive power. This season with the Spartans, Alfonzo held down the fourth best BA and SLG on the team (.344, .570) all while showing his physical durability, starting every game and getting the most ABs. He made his power potential and ability to find the gaps apparent to scouts as 29 of his 76 hits were of the extra base variety. All of this happened in his junior year. What Alfonzo needs to work on in order to round out his game are his mechanics on the field. Although he exhibited good range, he committed a team high 20 errors this season between not getting low enough to field balls hit his way and making inaccurate throws. If Alfonzo can clean that up, he is a very intriguing prospect with power potential at a usually weak offensive position. Keep an eye on this one.

22 – #656 – RHP LJ Brewster – Hawaii
Grade: C+

Brewster is a 6’2″ 205 righty out of Hawaii. This year, the converted infielder showed good velocity in the 89-95 MPH range along with solid secondary stuff for a guy seeing his first work on the mound. He flashed a three pitch repertoire, including a well tipped curve and a nice fading change with plus potential. In his 94 2/3 innings, he struck out 63 and held down a 2.95 ERA. He pitched into the 5th inning in all of his starts, pitched into the 7th in five of them, and held the opposition to two runs or less in six. Brewster uses his long limbs to his advantage, throwing from a 3/4 overhand arm slot and getting out in front well. Where Brewster understandably needs work is in the command and control departments. While he did record 63 strikeouts, he also walked 41 and threw 11 wild pitches. Despite his struggles in those areas, his abiltiy to hold runs and hits to a minimum prove he has the head and wherewithal to succeed as a pitcher. If he can improve upon his command and control and continue to improve his stuff, he could become a serviceable back of the roty arm or reliever.

23 – #686 – LHP Trevor Lacosse – Bryant University (RI)
Grade: B-

Lacosse is a 5’11” 185 pounder who isn’t going to light up radar guns but, thanks to the deceptiveness of his stuff, will keep the opposition from lighting up the scoreboard. While his heat barely touches 90, he can move it at will, running it, cutting it or sinking it, which keeps hitters guessing. He also has a changeup that flashes plus. In his freshman year of college, Lacosse was one of his team’s most reliable arms out of the pen, holding down a 2.51 ERA and compiling 20 Ks to 15 walks in 32 1/2 IP. If he continues at his current pace, Lacosse will be a valuable change-of-pace arm that can be affective in short spurts.

24 – #716 – RHP Octavio Arroyo – San Ysidro HS (CA)
Grade: C

Arroyo is a 6’0″ 175 pound righty who has quite the backstory. A native of Mexico, Arroyo came to the United States by way of a visitor’s visa and pitched three seasons in San Ysidro, a town just inside the border of the United States in California. He pitched parts of two seasons with at San Ysidro High School, posting an ERA under 2 and an 2.00 K/BB ratio by way of a low 90s fastball, a diving sinker, and a good running changeup, putting himself in prime position to be drafted as early as round 15. However, just before draft day, Arroyo was deported to Mexico after being deemed inadmissable at a border entry station. Arroyo shows tons of promise talent wise and the fact that he was taught by the brother of former major leaguer Esteban Loiaza in his days at San Ysidro High make him even a more encouraging piece but at the moment, his future is unclear. Because he was once deemed inadmissable, it is questionable whether the US government will reward him with a work visa. While Arroyo waits, he tosses the ball as much as he can with family members but it is far from anything formal and a very far cry from being tutored by professional baseball minds. Life is also tough in Tijuanna and family matters don’t permit Arroyo anywhere near the practice time needed to make it as a pro. Thus, the longer he waits on the US government to make a decision, the more detrimental it is to his future. If Arroyo is admitted the right to play for the Marlins, he’s a very attractive prospect but that is still very much in the air. Unfortunately for Arroyo, it’s nothing but a waiting game right now.

25 – #746 – OF Alexander Fernandez – Nova Southeastern University
Grade: B+

At pick 746, the Marlins drafted the first of two recognizable surnames with former Marlins’ ties. Alexander Fernandez, the son of former Marlins hurler and 1997 World Champion Alex Fernandez is a college senior out of NSU in Davie. He began his college career there after attending baseball powerhouse high school Archbishop McCarthy. Fernandez was drafted as a left fielder but he has the athletic ability to play virtually anywhere on the diamond so there are a multitude of options when it comes to getting him in the lineup. Though he was drafted as an outfielder, Fernandez played second base for most of his high school and college careers and looks to continue playing there early in his minor league career. His tools, good hands, good reaction time, good speed which allowed him to run a 7.14 60, and a strong arm that was once clocked in the mid 80s, best suit him for that position. At the plate, Fernandez stands tall in the box and gets his bat through the zone well with good speed and a typical line drive swing. His good hands follow him to the plate where he remains relaxed and loose before displaying good strength in them. The approach allowed him to finish 2015 second on the Sharks in homers and slugging while his speed garnered him a team leading five triples. As he proved this season, when he squares the ball up which he has a good knack for doing, Fernandez’s tools make him a threat for an extra base hit every time. Where he needs to improve is in the patience department, proven by the fact that he struck out a heightened 66 times in 203 ABs this season. If Fernandez can learn to pick and choose his swings by way of improving his plate vision, there is nothing to suggest he can’t become a complete baseball player. He is already a complete athlete both physically and mentally and he comes from a great baseball pedigree. There’s reason to be excited about the next member of the Fernandez family becoming part of the Marlins’ long term future.

26 – #776 – RHP Obed Diaz – Casiano Cepeda HS (Puerto Rico)
Grade: —

Diaz is a sizeable 6’3″ 175 pound righty out of Puerto Rico whom very little information is available on.

27 – #806 – SS Taylor Munden – West Virginia
Grade: C

Munden is a 5’10 185 pound college senior out of West Virginia who led his team in power production this past season, slamming 11 homers and driving in 31 runs. He was second on the team in slugging at .468 as well as doubles with 12. Munden also flashed good speed and baserunning instincts, swiping a team high 11 bags. At the plate, the stout Munden makes use of a small strike zone and is fairly selective when it comes to waiting for his pitch. When he gets it and barrels it up with a straight swing in which he maintains his strength all the way through, Muden can be quite surprisingly — especially for a guy his size — the masher. Where he could use improvement is seeing the ball to the barrell. While he more often than not makes contact, it is not often enough solid contact. He also tends to fly open on his swings. On defense, Munden reacts to contact well but his infield mechanics could use a bit of work. Last season, he made a team high 17 errors. Munden has an edge in that he possesses power at a weak power position but he will need grooming on both sides of the ball if he hopes to make it as a pro.

28 – #836 – LHP Jeff Kinley – Michigan State
Grade: B

Kinley is a 6’1″ 175 pound southpaw who has been through a lot in his college career. After taking home league MVP honors twice in his high school career and getting off to a good start in the first two seasons of his collegiate career, Kinley received quite the health scare in 2013 when blood clots were found around his lungs. Kinley underwent two surgeries, one of which cost him one of his ribs before coming back stronger than ever in 2014. That season, Kinley set a Michigan State record by recording 13 saves. He also held down a 2.45 ERA. This year, Kinley once again began the year as the closer before being moved to the rotation. As a reliever, he gave up just 8 runs in 25.1 IP before giving up 9 over 25.2 innings in his last 5 games, all starts, proving he is more affective in shorter spurts. Kinley has a three pitch repertoire which also backs that assertion. His fastball tops at 93 and he gets in on hitters well with his breaking stuff. Kinley has a good closer or late inning reliever’s make up. He could use to improve upon his command as he has been liable to give up some big contact when he misses his spots. Other than that, he projects decently as a guy who can contribute to the bullpen at the professional level.

29 – #866 – RHP Ben Meyer – Minnesota
Grade: B

Meyer is a righty hurler with baseball in his blood. Meyer’s father pitched at Minnesota and Ben, although he was at first at basketball player, eventually followed his bloodlines to the mound. He is an imposing figure as he toes the rubber, standing at 6’6″, 200 pounds. He is as imposing with his low 90s fastball which he has all the confidence in the world in. Because of it’s good movement and the good handle he has on it, Meyer is not afraid to challenge hitters with the pitch. He has a great feel for it and has the ability to pitch it black-to-black. As for his secondary pitches, Meyer completely overhauled that area of his repertoire when he came to Minnesota. Four years later, he possesses a high 70s slider and a tricky low 80s circle changeup. He used his arsenal to compile the seventh most career strikeouts in Minnesota history. He also pitched the second most innings (288) in 59 games and 39 starts. His great control and command are best evidenced by his 3.08 K/BB ratio as a collegiate player. Meyer could have probably gone a lot higher than the 29th round if not for struggling with giving up the long ball in his senior year giving up 10, a new experience for Meyer who had only allowed a total of 5 homers in his first three seasons. Other than those struggles with homers, it was another great year for Meyer. He totaled a career high in strikeouts (71) while walking just 24, leading to a 2.96 K/BB ratio. He did match hits with IP with a 9.00 H/9 but that can be attributed to a high BABIP. All-in-all, Meyer is an imposing downhill throwing righty with a well established repertoire. As long as the heightened number of longballs he gave up this year were a one-time thing, with continued natural production, Meyer could become a back end of the rotation starter or at the very least a long reliever/spot starter at the professional level.

30 – #896 – SS Joseph Chavez – University of California – Riverside
Grade: B

Chavez is a 6’0″, 195 infielder who is an absolute speed demon, proven by his 49 stolen bases in 172 games in his collegiate career. To get on base, Chavez uses a good batter’s eye, plus patience and plus plus power which allowed him to collect 57 XBHs between his sophomore and senior years. For his career, Chavez slashed an impressive .299/.393/.436 culminating with a .308/.390/.453 year last year. When he makes good contact, his solid line drive swing which is the product of soft hands and good lower body action combined with his blistering speed makes him a threat for extra bases every time. Chavez’s weakness lies in the fact that he struggles to see the ball to the barrell. He really needs to improve upon his contact rate in order to make it at the next level. Defensively, Chavez uses the same speed he uses on the bases to cover a lot of ground at shortstop and he makes the right decisions with the ball. However, he needs to work on solidifying a consistent arm angle. Last year, he made a team high 14 errors, a lot of them as a product of his throws. If Chavez can work on making more consistent contact thus cutting down on strikeouts as well as cleaning up his defensive mechanics, he’ll be worth keeping in your thoughts as a type-B prospect.

31 – #926 – OF Griffin Conine – Pine Crest HS (FL)
Grade: B+

The next generation of Conine has come to the Marlins! The son of Mr. Marlin himself, two time World Series champ and original 1993 Marlin, Conine’s surname is one every Fish fan will recognize immediately. A lefty hitter standing at 6’1″ and weighing in at 195, Conine hits from a very spread stance and possesses some of the best bat speed in South Florida. He has an uphill swing and a power first approach but also exhibits good patience and plate vision allowing him to wait out opposing pitchers. When he squares up, the ball explodes off his barrell and more often than not goes for extra bases. In the outfield, Conine possesses raw arm strength but his mechanics needs some work but as he fills out, improvement will undoubtedly come. Conine will more than likely head to college as he has already committed to Duke but the fact that the Marlins have already put the thought in the minds of the fanbase of hearing the name Conine being announced once again as a member of the Marlins’ starting lineup sometime in the near future is enough to excite any long time fan of the team.

32 – #956 – 3B Kris Goodman – Iowa
B

Goodman is a 6’1″, 193 third baseman who hits from an extremely spread stance with a front foot toe tap and has an extremely fluid and easy follow through. He retains his looseness very well and swings all the way through the zone with a straight through stride. He has some hidden power and a knack for finding the outfield gaps. Upon making contact, Goodman flies down the line with plus speed and has the ability to turn anything into an XBH. As a senior, he collected team highs in doubles (11) and triples (5). He also stole 10 bases on 14 attempts. Goodman also possesses good patience at the plate which allowed him to total a 36/30 K/BB in 2015. Like a few previous picks, Goodman could also use to improve upon the rate at which he makes contact. On defense, Goodman is more than sufficient at the hot corner, flashing a good glove and good instincts, fielding the big hop almost exclusively. He has an accurate arm that will only get better as he fills out. Natural production suggest Goodman has a good opportunity to turn in to a quality prospect.

33 – #986 – RHP Ryley MacEachern – SUNY Stony Brook
Grade: B-

MacEachern is a sizeable 6’2″ 213 pounder from New York with a good feel for pitching. He throws from a high 3/4 slot with a solid follow through. He tosses a solid plus fastball in the low 90s which he keeps down almost exclusively with good sinking action. The breaking stuff also flashes plus. His slider and curve both spin well with the curve holding good depth and the slider good late break. He also holds a mid 80s changeup which he has a good feel for and pairs well with his heat. MacEachern has shown improvement with each passing season. The question regarding his stuff is whether or not he can maintain consistency. While his arsenal is good, he has shown the tendency to fall off from game to game. If he can figure that out, he could become a viable rotation option. If not, he will still be useable in relief capacities.

34 – #1016 – OF Brandon Rawe – Morehead State (KY)
Grade: B+

Rawe is a 6’2″, 190 outfielder who was a force to be reckoned with in his college career at Morehead State. The country grown Rawe lives up to his namesake by displaying great raw power which allowed him to post an impressive .351/.405/.548 slash line. Rawe has matured quickly. After struggling with plate discipline and contact rate in his freshman year, he came back in his sophomore year to set the Morehead State single season record for hits with 98. This season, he nearly equaled that figure with 92, second in the Ohio Valley Conference, while belting a team high 24 doubles (4th in the OVC) and 12 homers (5th in the OVC). The K/BB ratio has improved every season to the point where this season he had it down to 1.24 while his OBP sat at .432 while getting the most ABs and second most PAs in his conference. His gargantuan senior year led his team to a conference championship. He was also a second team All-Conference selection. If his college numbers are any indication, Rawe is a well balanced two way player with huge power upside. His arm shows above average to plus, he possesses a good glove, and he covers a lot of outfield ground with plus speed. He could use to become a bit more selective at the plate and as a student of the game who has made strides each year, that shouldn’t be much of a problem for him to accomplish under professional tutelege. Rawe is a great find at this point in the draft and could contribute at the major league level sooner rather than later.

35 – #1046 – OF Cameron Newell – University of California – Santa Barbara
Grade: B-

Newell is a wiry 6’1″ 190 outfielder who nearly fell out of the watchful eye of scouts last year before coming back to attract them once again with a great year this year. After hitting just .271/.350/.341 in 2014, he came back to lead UCSB’s offense by slashing .368/.447/.473. While his ability to find holes may have fallen off in 2014, he has displayed great patience since his days as a sophomore, walking more than he has struck out. That trend continued this season as he walked 27 times to 23 Ks. While the lefty bat shows a great work ethic as well as plus speed, working against him is the fact that he had his best year in a season where his BABIP was at an unsustainable .399 and his worst season where his BABIP was as close to average at .291. While he does have some raw tools, makes contact more often than not and has a great hitter’s eye, the book is still partially out on his ability to hit ’em where they ain’t and on what kind of production he can really provide. Since he’s been either extrememly lucky or slightly unlucky its hard to put a finger on exactly what kind of production he could provide at the next level at the moment. Right now, we would put him in the B type prospect range with the prospect for more.

36 – #1076 – LHP Gunnar Kines – University Of Mount Olive (NC)
Grade: B

Kines is an athletic 6’3″ 210 pound lefty out of Mount Olive in North Carolina who enjoyed a decorated college career. This season, by way of a 3.26 ERA in 96.2 IP and an insane 121/24 K/BB, Kines was named the Conference Of The Carolinas Pitcher of the Year. Using impeccable control and an extremely deceptive arsenal, the southpaw struck out 11 batters per game and held down a .247 BAA. On the hill, the tall lefty throws from a 3/4 arm slot after a high leg kick delivery. He makes the most of his long limbs keeping the ball as far away from the hitter’s eyes as possible until he begins his follow through. He comes through the ball well and ramps his fastball up to the mid 90s. He pairs the heat with a solid secondary changeup which tops out around 85 with good fade. He needs to work on keeping the rest of his secondary stuff down. By keeping it up the zone, he gave up 11 homers this season. Other than that, Kines is a sleeper pick with a solid starter’s makeup, a great feel for his fastball/changeup combo and a guy who could surprise in the near future.

37 – #1106 – OF Ruben Cardenas – Bishop Alemany HS (CA)
Grade: B+

Cardenas is an athletic 6’2″ 185 pound high schooler from California who enjoyed an exquisite varsity career. In two years, he hit .417 and OBP’d .502. The outfielder shows plus speed and a prototypical line drive swing. He has college aspirations and will attend it at the University Of Nevada. If he continues to grow and produce on a similar level there, this will be a name to remember a few drafts from now and the Marlins are in on the ground floor.

38 – #1136 – RHP C.J. Newsome – Columbia HS (MS)
Grade: B+

Newsome is a fast as lightning outfielder from Mississippi who once ran a ridiculous 6.60 60. He put that speed to use over his three year high school career, stealing 45 bags, including 21 in his junior year and 23 this year. He also showed he can get on base to use his jets in multiple ways — by way of the walk thanks to great patience (27/18 K/BB) and by way of the hit thanks to a snappy bat (.350 career BA). All of this lead to a career .398 OBP. His ability to stretch any ball that falls as well as his knack for finding the gaps with above average power allowed him to become a career .461 slugger. Newsome is another kid who will continue his education in college but another guy who the Marlins will follow closely leading up to future drafts.

39 – #1166 – 3B Bucket Goldby – Yuba City HS (CA)
Grade: B

Goldby, a 6’0″ 185 pound infielder, is another kid with ties to the Marlins’ organization. He is the son of Scott Goldby, a west coast team scout. After getting his feet wet with the varsity club in 2014, Goldby enjoyed a fantastic senior campaign, slashing .371/.475/.690. His plus power allowed him to smash 17 XBHs including a team high 5 homers. A prototypical power hitter with an uppercut swing at the plate, Goldby maintains his strength through the ball with good hands. If he continues to progress at the college level, he could become a future top 20 round pick. The Marlins will watch this kid with much interest.

40 – #1196 – C Matthew Foley – Rhode Island College
A

Miami rounded out the draft with Foley, a catcher with a great huge catcher’s build. At 6’4″ 230, the plus sized Foley does a great job covering most of the plate. He has a strong arm as well as athletic hands which make the ball come out quickly. His footwork behind the plate could use to improve a bit when it comes to his crouch to pop time. At the plate, Foley hits from an extreme spread stance. He uses great strength behind a straight through swing which allowed him to post gargantuan numbers in his senior year. All three areas of his ridiculous .453/.515/.872 line were among the top 5 in his conference. His 11 homers led the conference. He rounded out his Triple Crown winning season with a conference leading 45 RBIs. He also exhibited good patience when it came to waiting for his pitch by walking 15 times to 16 Ks. In just his junior year, Foley has shown the skill needed to become a top tier hitting catcher. If the defensive side of his game can improve, he has the athletic ability to become a complete two way player. A great find for the Marlins in the final round of the draft.

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MLB Draft Recap: Rounds 1-20

Josh Naylor

Last week at the MLB Draft, the future of baseball got a lot brighter in Miami. Just how much more talent rich will the Marlins be, pending contract signings? Here is a round-by-round look at each Miami draft pick.

1 – #12 – 1B Josh Naylor – St. Joan of Arc Catholic SS (ON)
Grade: A

Since 2012, the Marlins have struggled to find power outside of anyone not named Giancarlo Stanton. Each season, the team has finished in the bottom four in the leauge in power production. Part of the reason for these offensive shortcomings lends itself to the fact that the team opened one of the most pitcher friendly parks in the league. Since Marlins Park’s inaugural year, the Marlins have tried out lefty options such as Logan Morrison, Garrett Jones, etc in hopes that they would be able to find the seats closest to home plate in left field, 335 feet away as well as the triples alley in right center. While those plans have gone awry with all of those the Marlins have attempted it with thus far, they may have found their guy in Naylor. A 6’1″ 225 pound lefty from Canada, Naylor and his gargantuan power have drawn attention from scouts ever since he was 15 years old. That year, Naylor ironically hit a ball 480+ feet out of Marlins Park during a power showcase, one of many such events in which Naylor has drawn ooh’s and ahh’s from onlookers. Looking through reports from scouts, it is more common than not to read that Naylor makes the best contact, has the best exit velo and hits the ball the farthest out of all participants. He does so by making the most of his extra large frame and strength while also maintaining his looseness. At 17, he already has outstanding above average bat speed that should only get better during his journey to the majors. The only knock on his pre-swing approach is that he could use to utilize his back legs more as his current swing is almost all upper body with a very short stride below the waist. He is a pull first hitter but can hit to all fields when he squares up. Naylor will need to improve upon his patience and his ability to fight pitches off as he does swing and miss a lot when he doesn’t make contact but that will undoubtedly come with age and experience. On defense, Naylor is athletic, covering a good amount of ground for a kid his size. His arm is very good but a bit inconsistent as he tends to drop his arm slot and release point, an issue that will also be easily fixed with experience and coaching. There’s plenty of reason to be excited about Naylor who is much bigger and is showing more power than the smaller Giancarlo Stanton did at the same age. Whether or not he reaches the plateau Stanton is currently at is still up in the air but it is a distinct possibility. And that is enough to excite anyone.

 

2 – #50 – LHP Brent Lilek – Arizona State
Grade: A

Lilek is a 6’4″ 190 pound lefty who matured early in high school to become one of the top lefty arms in the 2015 draft. The tall lanky southpaw has a great pitcher’s build and uses his size to his advantage. Remaining loose, he uses a high leg raise delivery and tosses from an extended 3/4 arm slot. Lilek’s utilization of his body doesn’t stop there as he is also a very heady pitcher who makes great pitch and spot selections. His 89-92 MPH fastball is mostly straight but he has the ability to spot it wherever he wants, working both sides of the black consistently. He works eye levels well, usually setting up an elevated fastball with his breaking stuff, 74-76 MPH well shaped curves and fading changeups, which he keeps low in the zone. He is also working on a slurvy slider. As his arsenal develops even more, Lilek has the potential to become ace material. We will be following his progression in earnest.

3 – #85 – OF Isaiah White – Greenfield School (NC)
Grade: A-

White is a 6’0″ 175 pounder with a good athletic structure. At the plate, he hits from a square straight away stance and maintains his relaxation well. With good hands and bat speed, he finds the barrel often and hits all the way through the ball, making good line drive contact on swings straight through the zone. If the ball does find green grass, White and his speed which allowed him to run a 6.46 40 is a threat for extra bases every time. Defensively, White uses the same speed to cover a lot of ground, runs good routes and has a strong along with a quick transition and follow through that make it very projectable. White is a catalyst type hitter with already good but still developing defensive instincts and all the god-given tools to succeed in this league.

4 – #116 – RHP Cody Poteet – UCLA
Grade: B

Poteet is an athletic 6’1″ 190 pounder with an over-the-top release and good downhill action to the plate. Delivery is easily repeated. Has a good fastball which tops out at 92 with good life when he hits his spots but his bread and butter is a nasty well-tilted one that lives in the high 70s. He is also working on a developing changeup that has flashed above average. He limits pitches by living in and around the zone which lead to a 49/16 K/BB last season. He does need to improve the command of his pitches as he tends to find a bit too much of the plate at times but entering just his junior year at 21 years old, there is still room for improvement.

5 – #146 – LHP Justin Jacome – University Of California –¬†Santa Barbara
Grade: A

Jacome is a huge lefty who surprisingly fell to round 5, possibly because he was overshadowed by teammate Dillon Tate. After a fabulous first three years of college at UC Santa Barabra, many scouts had him going off the board in the first three rounds. Jacome’s sparkling college career thus far was capped by a 116.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 96/26 K/BB this year. He did so by utilizing a 4-pitch arsenal and having extreme confidence in each pitch. Working quickly with good command, Jacome possesses a fastball which tops out at 92, a good fading changeup, and a best pitch curveball with good 12-6 bite. Good mechanics and control have lent themselves to a 3.27 career K/BB ratio. Jacome is a guy who already at 21 possesses three plus pitches and is working on a fourth. He already has the success to succeed in the minors and could take the fast track to the majors. The Marlins likely stole one here.

6 – #176 – C Justin Cohen – Riverview High School (FL)
Grade: B+

Cohen is a catcher with the build to prove it. At a stocky 6’0″, 190, he stands tall in the box and has a nice fluid swing. From a straight away open stance, he has a snappy bat with projectable line drive power. Last season in his junior year in high school, he hit .325/.392/.580 with three homers and nine doubles. Cohen excels even more on defense where he really puts his athleticism on display. He has a strong but controlled arm and goes from crouch to pop in the blink of an eye. The biggest and possibly only hole in Cohen’s game lies in his inability to pick the ball up out of the pitcher’s hand. He is fooled often and swings and misses even more. He will likely head to Florida State University to attempt to iron out those issues. If he succeeds, he could become starting catcher material. Even if he doesn’t, Cohen has enough defense skill to make it as a primarily defensive player.

7 – #206 – RHP Travis Neubeck – Indian Hills Community College (IA)
Grade: B

Neubeck is a tall, thin righty from the Air Force Academy. An athletic guy who lettered in both baseball and hockey in high school, Neubeck relies heavily on his wrists that can both crank up a heavy slap shot as well as bury a sharp curveball. Throwing from a 3/4 arm slot and working very quickly with good rhythm, Neubeck is Jamie Moyer light, relying heavily on finesse stuff. Though his fastball barely touches 90 MPH, he has the secondary stuff to make up for it. His best pitch is a low 70s curve that is tough for opposing hitters to pick up out of his hand and sneaks up on them with sharp break and fantastic movement. He has also flashed a low 80s mix in curve that needs work. Though he is virtually a one pitch pitcher at the moment, the curveball is good enough to give him a solid ground floor to work from. If he can gain some velo and movement on his fastball/changeup combo, Neubeck could have success at the major league level.

8 – #236 – RHP Chris Paddack – Cedar Park High School (TX)
Grade: B+

Paddack is a huge 6’4″ 195 pound righty who tosses free and easy from a high 3/4 arm slot. He has an easily repeated delivery with good downhill motion. He can do several things with his low-mid 90s fastball including cut it and sink it, turning his three pitch repertoire into more of a five pitch repertoire. His secondary stuff, a straight high 70s change that he has a good feel for and a slow 71 MPH 10-4 curveball that he will dip his arm slot a bit to throw, is still developing but both pitches show promise. He also shows versatility on his curveball by turning it in to a slurvy slider. Paddack will likely initially head to college at Texas A&M but, with a good foundation and a semi-pro ceiling that doesn’t appear to be far away, shouldn’t take long to reach the minor leagues.

 

9 – #266 – RHP Reilly Hovis – North Carolina
Grade: B

The 6’3″ 195 pound Hovis is another tall lanky righty who pitches from a 3/4 arm slot. He works at a slow but methodical pace and drives hard off his back leg to gain velo on his low 90s heat. In just his junior year of college, Hovis already has well developed secondary stuff including a good fading 88 mile an hour change. His best pitch is his outpitch curve, which sits in the upper 70s has good depth and good downward motion. He will sometimes drop arm slots when he throws the curve, allowing hitters to pick it up and sit on it but with a good knowledge of the zone and the ability to change hitters’ eye levels, it doesn’t hinder him much. Last season, Hovis went 9-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 64 innings and primed himself to be a top three round draft pick. However, in the offseason, Hovis underwent Tommy John surgery and will not pitch again until at least next season. If he can bounce back from the surgery, Hovis is a quality, heady pitcher with a good starter’s mentality. In round nine, Hovis was well worth the gamble.

10 – #296 – RHP Kelvin Rivas – Oklahoma Baptist University
Grade: A

Rivas is a massively framed 6’4″ 245 pound righty power arm. He uses all of his strength and gets out in front well with a downhill delivery that is easily repeatable. He ramps his plus fastball that both runs and sinks up to 95 with the ability to paint both sides of the black. He has a good feel for a simialr changeup which he drops down in to the mid-80s for a nice chance of speeds. His out pitch is a late breaking slider with sharp movement. This year in his junior year of college, Rivas led all of Division I basbeball in strikeouts (144), K/9 (13.64) and wins (12, including 3 CGSOs) while also ranking 29th in IP (95) and ERA (1.80). Rivas also put his control on full display by walking just 36. A quality arm with a good starter’s poise, Rivas could begin contributing at the minor leauge level immediately.

11 – #326 – RHP Ryan McKay – Satellite High School (FL)
Grade: B

Rounding out the string of pitching picks, McKay is a 6’4″ 170 pound north Palm Beach County native who makes the most of his long limbs on the mound. Working at a slow pace, he performs a high leg raise and a complete rotation of his arm before releasing from a high 3/4 arm slot. His arsenal includes a low 90s fastball with some slight cut to it, a mid-70s curveball with hard spin and dropping action which he tips well and a developing mid 80s changeup. He’s also started to work on a slider. McKay does tend to overthrow and is definitely still a work in progress but in just his senior year of high school, improvement will undoubtedly come as his body and mind mature. He will be worth keeping an eye on during his college career at Louisanna State University.

12 – #356 – OF Terry Bennett – Atlantic Coast High School (FL)
Grade: B-

Another in-state product, Bennett is a two sport athlete who has a decision on his hands. Not only was Bennett drafted by the Marlins, he was also signed by Florida International on national signing day to play football. Bennett was a star on the football field in high school but was also good enough in baseball to draw an All-American mention. As you may have guessed, Bennett has plus speed which allows him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield which would be a huge asset to Marlins Park. That same quickness allowed him to steal 11 bags in 22 games in his junior year. Bennett has also flashed extremely good patience at the plate, walking 31 times while striking out just 18 times in his high school career and accumulating a .492 OBP, suggesting he would be a viable option at the top of the order. While we won’t know until the day college classes resume what Bennett’s decision is, it would appear as if he is more interested in football as he did not partipate in baseball this season. However, on the chance that he does decide to pick the bat and glove back up, the infinitely athletic Bennett, though he will need a lot of grooming, could turn some heads.

13 – RHP RJ Peace – Serrano High School (CA)
Grade: B+

Peace is a 6’2″ 175 pound righty with a well groomed arsenal for a kid his age. Throwing from a high 3/4 arm slot, Peace has a slow and easy delivery which is easily repeated. He also has an extremely fluent follow through. His fastball sits in the 89-92 MPH range with good run to both sides of the plate. His best pitch by far though is his out-pitch slurve. Sitting in the 77-79 MPH range and evidencing a great mix of speeds, the slurve has extremely late break. When Peace is on, it is virtually untouchable. He also mixes in a pretty average low 80s slider. While he can get wild at times, Peace has great poise and confidence, allowing him to bounce back quickly. He usually controls his pitches very well and has the ability to paint the entire black. If Peace can clean up his wild antics during his college career, he could become a quality professional arm.

14 – #416 – Jordan Hillyer – Kennesaw State
Grade: A

Hillyer is a second time Marlins draftee out of Kennesaw State in Georgia. Standing at 6’0″, 200, he a lefty offspeed specialist. He possesses an 86-92 MPH fastball, an above average changeup, and a very good plus mid-80s curveball which he spins well. What gives Hillyer’s stuff even more of an edge is his extremely deceptive delivery which is something to behold. Working at a quick pace, Hillyer transitions from glove to hand then drops his arm nearly directly downward and behind his back before driving to the plate and releasing from a side-arm angle. His tricky mechanics along with his outstanding control have allowed him to enjoy a great college career proven by a 3.13 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, a 194/97 K/BB and the fact that he started the 2014 Cape Cod All Star Game. He projects very well as either a back of the rotation starter or productive bullpen piece who should be able to contribute sooner rather than later.

15 – #446 – OF Kyle Barrett – Kentucky
Grade: B-

Barrett is a 5’11” 185 pound speedster who once ran a 6.77 40. At the plate, he is a slap singles hitter who’s speed allows him to leg them in to XBHs. He also isn’t afraid to drop down a bunt at any given moment. When he squares up, he makes good line drive contact and sees the ball to the barrell. That being said, his approach could use a bit of work, especially in the hands and flying open departments. In the field, Barrett covers as much ground as anyone if not more, takes good routes, and has a plus arm. With a bit of work on his approach at the plate, Barrett could become starter material acting as the sparkplug that helps turn the lineup over. At present, he projects best as a fourth outfielder.

16 – #476 – LHP Justin Langley – University Of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
Grade: C

Langley is a 6’6″ 225 pound lefty who struggled with injury early in his college career, limiting him to just 34 IP over his first two seasons. However, this season in his sophomore year, Langley has come back strong, posting a 3.33 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and a 2.06 K/BB ratio over 67.2 IP. His repertoire includes 89-92 MPH heat and a developing circle changeup which has flashed plus. While he is a bit of a gamble due to his being limited by health issues, he has started his comeback journey strong. His offspeed arsenal includes a high 80s fastball and two plus secondary pitches — an 83 MPH changeup and a 72 MPH 12-6 curve — both of which have sick movement and both of which he will throw in two strike counts. Langley mixes it up well, making up for his lack of velo with extremely fast firing neurons and the ability to get in opposing hitter’s heads. With continued success and good health, Langley, an avid competitor and great athlete who played two sports in high school, could still find himself in the pros some day soon.

17 – #506 – SS Max Whitt – Lewis-Clark State (ID)
Grade: B-

Whitt is a one time pitcher who has made the transition to the infield. After a good high school career in which he earned first team all conference honors in both his junior and senior year, Whitt has enjoyed continued success early in his college career. Last season, he showed his durability by starting 56 games and the skill he holds in his snappy bat by slashing .296/.405/.586. He also flashed plus power by hitting 17 homers, fifth most in the nation. His patience was also on full display as he walked 29 times to just 24 Ks. In the field, Whitt still possesses the same strong arm that he used to throw 89 MPH fastballs with. If he gets his glove on the ball and makes an on-line throw, even the fastest of runners doesn’t stand a chance. Making the transition to the diamond dirt hasn’t been all sunshine and butterflies for Whitt who made 11 errors last season but with more experience, that should clean itself up. While the book is still out a bit on his defensive capability (especially since he played at 2B and was drafted as a SS), Whitt’s bat makes him an intriguing young prospect with good upside.

18 – #536 – RHP Kyle Keller – Southeastern Louisianna University
Grade: C

Keller is a 6’4″ 200 pound hurler who enjoyed a good college career as a reliever. He went out on a strong note this season by allowing just 11 runs while striking out 40 and walking just 10 in 36 IP. When he is on, he keeps the ball down extremely well and limits damage. In his entire college career spanning 129 innings, he gave up just four long balls. On his good days, his low 90s heat and mid 80s changeup combo are effective and he keeps everything down in the zone. But if he is going to make it in the majors, he is going to have to become a lot more consistent. On any given day, his control can turn to nothing, which was the culprit in getting him removed from a starting role. Though he has great raw talent, Keller is going to need to be groomed well at the minor league level in order to succeed as a professional reliever.

 

19 Р#566  RHP Curt Britt РNC State
Grade: B+

Britt is a sizeable 6’2″ 240 pound righty. He uses his strength well behind his heavy mid 90s fastball as well as his good biting curveball which can touch the low 80s. He isn’t afraid to challenge hitters as he pounds the zone before pitching them in on the hands deep in counts. He has a quick arm and a fluid delivery especially for a guy his size. Between two colleges, he enjoyed a spectacular college career, mostly as a reliever, compiling a sub-3 ERA, an 82/35 K/BB and a 1.28 WHIP. With good tools and athleticism, Britt has the stuff to succeed at the professional level as a late inning reliever and was a great find at this point in the draft.

20 – #596 – C Korey Dunbar – North Carolina
Grade: C+

Rounding out the first 20 rounds worth of picks is another North Carolina product, catcher Korey Dunbar. Dunbar is a defense first catcher but his bat has also come around late in his college career. This year for the Heels, Dunbar enjoyed by far and away his best season at the plate, slashing .288/.362/.484 (the BABIP was slightly inflated at .353). He is an extremely picky hitter, especially for a catcher and has flashed plus power potential. If he gets a hold of one, he can hit it a long way. In 2015, 23 of his 56 hits were XBHs, including six homers. Where Dunbar still struggles offensively is finding the barrell or the bat at all. His rate of contact needs a lot of TLC as he enters the next level. Defensively, Dunbar is a beast. His strong arm and quick pop time give him the ability to cut down any runner. In his sophomore year, he threw out 23 guys. This season, he threw out 21. Dunbar also makes all of the plays when he is called upon to do so. Since his sophomore year began, he has only committed three errors. Dunbar does everything right on defense and most things right on offense with a few hitches that will need to be worked on. If he can start making more consistent contact, Dunbar could become starting material. Right now, we would reserve a backup role for him.

Rounds 20-40 coming later this week.