06/06/06 4:51 PM EST
Marlins select Sinkbeil as No. 1 pick
Right-hander was 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
But when the Marlins were on the clock with the 19th overall pick on Tuesday afternoon, Sinkbeil found himself becoming the latest talented pitcher to be brought into their organization.
Staying the course of past drafts, the Marlins again used their first draft pick to continue their stockpiling of young arms.
It's now four straight years that Florida's first draft choice is a pitcher. Sinkbeil, a hard-throwing right-hander out of Missouri State University, is projected to be a pitcher who can rise quickly through the system.
A 6-foot-3, 195-pounder from Sand Springs, Okla., Sinkbeil throws in the mid-90s and has a solid slider. In high school, he previously played against current Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson.
Now in a few years, Sinkbeil could find himself in the same rotation with Johnson, a native of Tulsa.
"I'm just looking forward to coming in and doing my job," Sinkbeil said. "Growing up in Oklahoma, I was always a Cardinals fan. But I paid attention to the Marlins in recent years because they had a player who was from around where I live, Brad Penny. And I played against Josh Johnson in high school."
Actually, coming out of Charles Page H.S. in 2003, Sinkbeil was a 38th round pick of the Cardinals. When taken that low, he was a draft-and-follow, but he opted to go to college.
Since then he filled out from a lanky 165 pounds to 195 pounds. He jokes that he's been measured at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, claiming he is "somewhere in the middle."
Like so many young pitchers, Sinkbeil greatly admires Roger Clemens because of the future Hall of Famer's work ethic.
As a product of Missouri State University, Sinkbeil hopes to become another prospect to make it to the big leagues. Matt Cepicky, playing for the Marlins' Triple-A Albuquerque farm team, and Phillies slugger Ryan Howard are Missouri State products.
This past season, Sinkbeil was 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts. He tossed one complete game, and logged 69 2/3 innings. He struck out 75 and walked 23, with opponents batting .184 against him.
His year was interrupted somewhat by an oblique strain. But he was healthy for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, where Marlins scouts were on hand to watch him.
"He pitched in the conference tournament and threw very well," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins vice president of player development and scouting. "We were at his last two performances and got what we wanted. His fastball velocity was there. We have no problems."
At that tournament, the Marlins clocked Sinkbeil's fastball between 90-94 mph. Fleming said he mixed that in with a hard breaking ball (or slider), and he is regarded as a polished pitcher.
The oblique injury sidelined Sinkbeil for about three weeks, but he showed enough to impress the Marlins when he returned in the tournament.
"I missed about three weeks," the right-hander said because of his injury. "But my last two outings I felt fine. It didn't give me any problems."
Sinkbeil ended his season by working eight innings in a win over Bradley.
Fleming feels Sinkbeil can be a power pitcher in the professional ranks.
"He has two power pitches," Fleming said.
Once the right-hander signs, he likely will start off in Jamestown in the New York-Penn League.
From an organizational standpoint, the Marlins make it clear they build around pitching, defense and speed.
Going with Sinkbeil is another prime example of the organization adding another hard-thrower.
Since Jeffrey Loria purchased the Marlins before the 2002 season, this current front office has participated in five First-Year Player Drafts. Outfielder Jeremy Hermida was picked first in 2002, but since then the team has gone with pitchers first in the past four drafts.
A year ago, the Marlins had three first-round selections, and two more sandwich picks before the second round. All five of those picks were pitchers.
The fact that Sinkbeil was recovering from an injury may have caused some teams to shy away, and the Marlins feel that worked to their advantage.
At the time of the injury, Sinkbeil wondered if his setback would hurt his draft status.
"It was more of a concern when it was going on," he said of being out. "I was able to make sure I could come back and prove I was healthy."
In addition to picking 19th overall, the Marlins had a sandwich choice, No. 36, as compensation for free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett signing with the Blue Jays last December.
With that sandwich pick, the Marlins went with third baseman Chris Coghlan from the University of Mississippi.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.