06/11/09 5:37 PM EST
Marlins stock up on Draft's young pitching
Florida acquires number of arms to bolster farm system
By David Villavicencio / MLB.com
Director of scouting Stan Meek said Florida expected to focus on pitching in this year's Draft to restock a farm system that has produced such players as Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad and Sean West.
"We thought we needed to add some pitching to the organization because some of the young guys have graduated to the Major Leagues," Meek said. "We felt like we were starting to thin out a little bit with pitching so we focused on it. We think we added good high school pitching in the top 10 rounds, and then some college pitching from 10 on, so we feel like we accomplished our goal."
On Day 2, the Marlins continued their search for quality arms and came away with several, like high school star Joshua Hodges and collegiate standouts Stephen Richards and Matt Montgomery. Florida also came away with some talented position players, including Baylor first baseman Dustin Dickerson and Puerto Rican prep standout catcher Jobduan Morales.
On the final day of the First-Year Player Draft, Florida selected 20 players to round out its 2009 class. A majority of its late picks will be monitored over the summer and may receive a contract offer by the Aug. 17 deadline if they perform well in the coming months. Overall, the Marlins' Draft class is balanced, with 25 pitchers and 25 position players making up this year's crop.
Florida held the 18th selection in the first round and used it on Oklahoma prep standout Chad James.
"James is a power left-hander with a great body," Meek said. "He's 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. He's a three-pitch guy that we think can be at least a middle-of-the-rotation-type starter. He's got a good arm and we liked everything about him."
While negotiations are ongoing, Meek is confident that the team will be able to sign its top selection quickly.
"We've talked with their adviser and we've talked with them and think everything is going OK," Meek said. "Like any of these situations, it takes a little time but we do have a lot of good mutual relationships with them. Hopefully this thing will speed up and we can get it done in a relatively short time."
Marlins -- Top five selections
|18||LHP||Chad James||Yukon HS|
|66||RHP||Bryan Berglund||Royal HS|
|97||CF||Da'Shon Cooper||Edison HS|
|128||RHP||Daniel Mahoney||U Connecticut|
|158||SS||Chase Austin||Elon U|
|Complete Marlins Draft results >|
Florida took another high school pitcher in the second round in Bryan Berglund. The 6-foot-4 California native has advanced command of his pitches that excited the Marlins.
"Berglund is a projection right-hander but he can still go up to 94 mph at times," Meek said. "He has a really good, solid slider and is also a three-pitch guy. He's athletic, intelligent and a real good strike thrower, which is a plus for a high school kid."
Florida's top college arm was selected in the fourth round out of the Big East Conference. Daniel Mahoney was a reliever for the University of Connecticut but Meek feels he could transition to a starting role.
"Mahoney is a right-hander that worked out of the bullpen at the University of Connecticut," Meek said. "We think he might be able to start. He's a big power guy that can throw three pitches. He did not throw a ton of innings for them. We like everything about his upside and we like his make-up."
Despite a focus on pitching, the Marlins took some hitters that they are very excited about. Third-round pick Marquis Cooper is an athletic outfielder that brings a tool to the organization that the scouting department was looking for.
"Cooper is a speed player," Meek said. "He's a center fielder that is a top of the scale runner. He's a great athlete at a premium position for us so we felt he was a good fit."
The organization picked up a quality infielder in the fifth round when it chose Chase Austin. A versatile player, Austin was named 2009 Co-Player of the Year in the Southern Conference.
"He's an athlete from Elon that played all three spots -- second, short and third," Meek said. "He hit 23 home runs for them and is a solid athletic player that can fit in the middle of the field."
The Marlins were pleased with their selections but do not anticipate any of them being fast-tracked to the Majors. Meeks feels that their 2009 Draft class will develop over time into productive players.
"I think that's a very unique situation that happens," Meek said of a player making a rapid rise to the big leagues. "With the first two guys being high school guys, they'll follow the normal path, and hopefully that path will be like it was for a guy like West, and they'll get up in that time frame. That's the upside on them and hopefully that will happen. The college guys would follow the normal path too. I don't see anybody in this group that would necessarily speed up to the big leagues."
David Villavicencio is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.