The big names were finally all traded. The fruits of the sell-off are all in the farm system. When the 2019 season began, expectations were that the position player depth in the organization would be solid, but it quickly became evident that the Marlins had a serious deficit in that category. Guys who came in with expectations to produce fell flat and didn’t produce at all. 2018 first rounder, Connor Scott, hit .137 in April at Single-A Clinton. 2018 69th overall pick, Will Banfield, is hitting .220 this season in Clinton as well. Prized international free agent signing, Victor Victor Mesa, is hitting .218 on the year at High-A Jupiter. 2018 2nd and 3rd rounders, Osiris Johnson and Tristan Pompey have missed significant time with injury, and there had already been questions revolving around the position player pool that existed prior to those players entering the system.
Photo via Associated Press
That said, the Marlins had the perfect set-up: great draft positioning with the 4th overall pick, 3 day-one draft picks, pitching that has been absolutely great across all levels of the organization, and a very deep class of advanced college bats. What did the Marlins do? They rocked it. Many around the league have given the Marlins due credit for having one of, if not THE best draft this year.
#Marlins had the best draft of all 30 teams. Special mention to Tigers, DBacks, Rays and Yankees (if they sign the signability picks).
— Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenGM) June 5, 2019
With their first selection, the Marlins chose Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday. Coming into the spring, Bleday was someone that was on the Marlins radar after a great performance in the Cape Cod League — he hit .311 with 5 home runs with a total of 16 XBH in 36 games. The Marlins knew that he was a great hitter, but what they wanted to see was if he could show that same power from the Cape Cod league in the 2019 college season. The question was a legitimate one, too. Bleday had only hit 6 home runs between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Vanderbilt. He answered the question, and he wasn’t subtle about it. He led the nation in home runs with 26 homers. All while sacrificing absolutely none of his patience or ability to make contact. Bleday carried a monster .346/.461/.748 slash line. While he isn’t the mega athlete who can play up the middle, scouts say he is a solid defender in Right Field with great instincts and a very good arm. Once he signs, Bleday should enter the Marlins farm system as its top hitting prospect and will likely play the majority of his first professional season in High-A Jupiter. Consider him a player who could fly up the organizational ladder because of his knack for making contact and his advanced approach. The newfound power won’t hurt one bit either. Photo via vucommodores.com
As the year began, one player getting looks from teams with top 10 choices was Kameron Misner; a left-handed hitter out of Missouri with some of the loudest tools in this draft. The knock on his draft stock? He struggled against more advanced pitching in the SEC. The Marlins, however, consider themselves fortunate to find a player they scouted for their 4th overall pick all the way back at the 35th selection. While he might need more time to develop that most college players, the Marlins made a great value pick with Misner. He could potentially remain in centerfield and the writers over at MLB Pipeline believe he could be a 20 HR-20 SB player. With the tools he has, some scouts believe that Misner could be even better than Bleday should the Marlins help him establish his timing and bring out the best of him at the plate. Bleday was a safe pick at 4th overall, and that allowed the Marlins to make a riskier but potentially rewarding choice in Misner at 35th overall. With their next four selections the Marlin selected Nasim Nuñez, Peyton Burdick, Evan Edwards, and Evan Fitterer. While their first two picks were more slam-dunk in nature, the creative choices the Marlins made here and the rest of Day Two is what got them the praise they’ve been receiving. Nasim Nuñez is high-school shortstop from Georgia who is best known for his elite level defense. A source described him to me as “one of the best, if not the best, prep shortstops in the whole class.” He is more of a contact hitter who just recently picked up switch hitting, but the Marlins see potential in his bat. On the latest Swings and Mishes podcast, Craig Mish mentioned how similar Nuñez’s game is to Francisco Lindor when he was the same age. It was reported by Mish late last week that Nuñez and the Marlins agreed to terms and that he would be signed at 2.2 million dollars, which is above the slot value at 46th overall.
Nasim Nunez was the PG @RawlingsSports Defensive Player of the Year for his ability to make plays like this look easy! Get excited @marlins fans https://t.co/NOLn549WMh pic.twitter.com/NVVUm3nVNL — Perfect Game All-American Classic (@PGAllAmerican) June 4, 2019
Evan Fitterer is the other Marlins draftee expected to sign above slot value. The UCLA commit fell all the way to 141st pick where the Marlins selected him. He is described by MLB Pipeline as a projectable 6’3” right hander with a good feel for pitching and “live stuff.” They end their evaluation with a comparison to a “young Kyle Hendricks” with a bigger fastball. Perhaps there were some signability concerns, but the Marlins were able to make the choice in the 5th round confident they will sign him. Again, per Mish, the Marlins are expected to sign him along with the rest of the day two selections.
Som how were the Marlins to sign all this impressive young talent above slot? College seniors. They didn’t settle either. They got some of the best college seniors out there.
This started with Wright-State’s Peyton Burdick in the 3rd round, an outfielder that Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo says has “70-grade raw power.” Burdick hit .395 with 13 home runs this past season. The Marlins also selected his teammate, JD Orr, in the 10th round. He led Division 1 baseball with 57 steals. NC-State’s first baseman, Evan Edwards, was selected in the 4th round. He was a player who has hit for power every year in college totaling 45 home runs in his three seasons. He, impressively, cut down his strikeout rate from 25% to 16% from his junior to his senior year. Even though this group represents some of the best college seniors available in this year’s draft, they don’t bring much leverage to the negotiation table, so they sign for virtually nothing. Fortunately for the Marlins, that is what gave them the flexibility to go above slot with high-schoolers like Nuñez and Fitterer.
B3: Player of the Year Peyton Burdick puts @WSURaiderGang up for the first time today as he smashes a three-run opposite field home run!
— Horizon League (@HorizonLeague) May 24, 2019
This was the first draft that the new Marlins regime with new Director of Amateur Scouting, D.J. Svihlik, and it was their first high selection as a result of the rebuild. The Marlins really needed a great draft, and the consensus is they knocked it out of the park. Once the players are signed, they’re in the hands of the Marlins development staff and that is when the Marlins will prove if the results of their draft were truly great. At least for now, Marlins fans can rejoice in the fact that the front office is showing signs of unity and competence that had been lacking for the majority of this last decade.