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05/12/08 10:00 AM EST

Sixth pick has Marlins sitting pretty

Fish not focused on need, want best available player

MIAMI -- Not since Adrian Gonzalez was tabbed as the first overall pick in 2000, have the Marlins sat this high on the board entering the June First-Year Player Draft.

Situated sixth, the Marlins find themselves with a clearer picture of what may be available in front of them.

"It simplifies things because you're only worried about five teams," said Jim Fleming, the team's vice president of player development and scouting. "You only have to get to the point where you have six players you can take. It doesn't change the way you scout. You still scout them all. But when you get to narrow it down, it makes it that much easier."

At such a lofty perch, the Marlins hope to find quality similar to what they selected when the gifted Gonzalez came out in 2000. Gonzalez, now an All-Star first baseman with the Padres, never reached the big leagues in Florida.

Still, his presence was vital to the organization. In July of 2003, the Marlins packaged Gonzalez, then a prospect, as part of a deal with Texas that brought closer Ugueth Urbina to Florida.

Urbina spent half a season with the Marlins, but he was a key figure in the team winning the World Series that year.

Since 2000, the Marlins have not picked higher than 11th overall, and that came in 2002, when right fielder Jeremy Hermida was taken.

From that point, Jeff Allison went 16th in the first round in 2003, while Taylor Tankersley was 27th in '04. Chris Volstad was one of five first-round choices in '05, and he was taken at 16. Brett Sinkbeil was chosen 19th in '06, and a year ago, Matt Dominguez was the 12th selection of round one.

Picking sixth would obviously mean the Marlins are positioned to land an even bigger impact player than more recent years.

"You would hope, but every Draft is different," Fleming said. "In some Drafts, there are a bunch of quality players at the top. This Draft seems to have some quality through it. I would say it is similar to what we've been seeing the last two or three years."

Strategically, the Marlins generally focus on pitching in anything they do, especially in the Draft and trades. But they approach the Draft with the mindset of taking the best available player.

They don't look to fill needs in the Draft, but where they are stationed now, they are in better striking distance to snare an impact player wherever they want.

The club clearly would like to find catching help, and at sixth overall, there are a couple worthwhile options: Kyle Skipworth, a left-handed hitter from Patriot High School in California and Florida State University catcher Buster Posey also is a possibility.

Generally speaking, the Marlins avoid focusing on need.

"Our needs never really enter into our first-round pick," Fleming said. "It's the best player available, and we can find a place for him, and we will say, 'This is the guy we'll go for.'

"When you tend to draft for needs, sometimes you pass over some really good players."

The time that "need" comes into play, Fleming notes, is when players are so evenly matched in the organization's estimation. Then, if the club seeks another left-handed pitcher, that particular player may get the nod over, say, a right-handed pitcher or an outfielder.

"Just because you have a need doesn't mean that Draft has that player in it," Fleming cautions.

Another time need comes into play is on the second day of the Draft, and that is to primarily fill their lower-level Minor League squads.

"We never enter the Draft looking to fill spots at the big league and Minor League levels," Fleming said. "We're looking for big leaguers, and guys we think can play in the big leagues."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.