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08/17/10 12:30 AM EST

Marlins sign first-round pick Yelich

Left-handed-hitting speedster projects as an outfielder

PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins came to terms with first baseman Christian Yelich, the club's first-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, on Monday, beating the midnight deadline for signing picks.

Taken with the 23rd overall pick, Yelich is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound left-handed hitter from Westlake High School in California.

The 18-year-old first baseman can also play the outfield, which is where the Marlins project him. As a fallback plan, Yelich had signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Miami.

Yelich's swing has been compared to former big leaguer Mark Grace.

Possessing above-average speed, he has the ability to play center field and hit at the top of the order.

"We really like this young man as a hitter. We thought he was as good a high school hitter as there was in this draft," said Marlins director of scouting Stan Meek when Yelich was picked. "We're excited we were able to pick him at that spot as we believe he has a chance to be a really good player."

As a high school senior, Yelich batted .450 with nine home runs and 28 stolen bases.

"I think I'm a patient hitter with a really relaxed stance," Yelich said. "I'm not too tense, and I try to have a fluid swing. I want to have everything at the plate nice and smooth, and it's been working for me since I was little. I've never had anything coached or anything like that -- it's kind of been just naturally that I've been able to hit a ball since I was a little kid."

Yelich continues a trend of the Marlins using their top pick on players from California. Matt Dominguez (2007, from Chatsworth High School) and Kyle Skipworth ('08, from Riverside) also were first-rounders from the state.

Another gem from California was taken in the second round in 2007 -- Mike Stanton out of Sherman Oaks. At age 20, Stanton reached the big leagues the day after the Marlins picked Yelich.

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.