Marlins target position players in Draft
Team does not select pitcher until the fifth round
A third baseman. Then an outfielder. Then a catcher. Then another outfielder. By the time Florida selected right-handed relief pitcher Matt Cishek in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft on Thursday, pundits everywhere had to be wondering the same thing:
Who are you, and what have you done with the real Marlins war room?
After all, this is the same franchise that two years ago took pitchers with its first five picks, and hasn't gone the first three rounds without taking a pitcher since 1998.
"It was a little different," admitted Jim Fleming, Florida's vice president of player development and scouting. "Even last year, when we took more hitters than we normally do, there were pitchers mixed in early. But the top-of-the-Draft pitching [this year] wasn't as deep on our board. Most times, this is what happens -- when you look at your Draft, it's kind of a reflection of what the strength of your board is."
And the strength of the Marlins' board was versatile position players, as reflected in the talent they secured in the Draft's opening rounds.
Matt Dominguez, taken 12th overall, is a highly touted high school third baseman whom the Marlins were comparing to Washington's Ryan Zimmerman. Dominguez attended the same high school as Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest.
At the No. 76 spot -- a glut of compensation picks meant the Marlins had to wait 64 spots to select again, Florida grabbed outfielder Mike Stanton, considered one of the best athletes in the Draft. Stanton excelled in baseball, basketball and football in high school and has been offered scholarships to play multiple sports in college.
In the next few rounds, the Marlins got several players who display multi-tool talent. Catcher Jameson Smith (106th overall) hit .379 with seven home runs, 40 RBIs and 10 stolen bases for Fresno City College this season. Outfielder Bryan Petersen (136th overall) had five home runs and stole 22 bases in 24 attempts for UC Irvine. Outfielder Taiwan Easterling hit .485 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs for Oak Grove (Miss.) High School, and has signed a letter of intent to play football at Florida State.
"We're obviously happy with the players we got," Fleming said.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Fleming said the Marlins had some pitchers they were considering with those first four picks, but they were all gone by the time things came back around to them.
"Our board got hit pretty hard," Fleming said, "but it always does."
Besides, the Marlins still stockpiled plenty of arms in the later rounds.
Cishek, their first pitching selection at 166th overall, is an intriguing late-bloomer who has reportedly improved the velocity on his fastball more than 10 mph in the last three years at Division II Carson-Newman. Fleming said Cishek projects well out of the bullpen.
"He's one of those big guys that can come out really tough with lots of movement and sink," Fleming said. "Pretty interesting guy."
Right-handed pitcher Brett Durand, out of Delta State (11th round, 346th overall), finished in the top five in Division II this season in victories (11) and strikeouts (117 in 115 innings). Right-hander Chris Shafer allowed nine runs in 42 2/3 innings for Cajon (Calif.) High School, and also hit .479 with seven home runs in 73 at-bats. Right-hander Adam Campbell (16th round, 496th overall) went 4-1 with eight saves and a 1.69 ERA for the University of New Orleans this season.
Even after that early run on hitters, the Marlins ended up drafting 26 pitchers -- the same number they took in last year's Draft. "We always have lots of pitching on the board, have lots of emphasis for pitching in the organization, do lots of scouting on it," Fleming said. "But we don't ever take pitching just because we like pitching."
Local tie: Chris Ingoglia, Florida's 18th-round pick, is from Boynton Beach, Fla., and graduated from Wellington High School. The left-hander was 9-6 with a 3.16 ERA as a starter for Stetson this season.
Third baseman Rafael Carlot, the Marlins' final selection of the Draft, is from Coral Gables.
Roll call: Here's the final breakdown of the Marlins' 50 Draft picks -- 26 pitchers (eight lefties, 18 right-handers), five catchers, 12 infielders and seven outfielders.
Tom Keller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.