Previewing the 2012 MLB DraftBy
The 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, or Rule 4 Draft as it’s officially known, is less than two weeks away and we’re just now starting to get a better feel for where some players are likely to get selected. Unlike the NFL and NBA Drafts, the MLB Draft is notoriously difficult to accurately mock, due in part to the immense collegiate and high school player pool, as well as the overall lack of national television exposure for prospects throughout the prep and collegiate seasons.
The MLB Draft has grown in popularity over the last several years, aided by its first-round broadcast on MLB Network beginning in 2007, as well as recent super-prospects such as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper drawing national interest. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will also affect the draft in several ways, with key changes being ten fewer rounds (50 to 40), an expedited signing deadline, and harsher penalties for teams that go over slot.
The Marlins hold the ninth pick in this year’s draft, putting them in a good position to get an impact prospect that has the long-term potential to be a cornerstone of the organization. I decided to take a look at a few draft prospects that should be around when the Marlins make their first-round selection, with some scouting notes and video on each.
RHP Lance McCullers
McCullers is a righty with power stuff out of Jesuit HS in Tampa who didn’t allow an earned run during the entire regular season of his senior year and is likely to hear his name called early on draft day. His repertoire includes a mid-90′s fastball, good slider, and average changeup. McCullers is also part of a good baseball bloodline, as his father Lance Sr. pitched for seven seasons with the Padres, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers. The Marlins took another Florida prep righty with their 2011 first-round selection Jose Fernandez, who has been stellar to start his professional career, and McCullers could be another high-ceiling arm to add to Miami’s minor league system.
SS Deven Marrero
No one questions Deven Marrero’s defense at shortstop, but the bat has always been a bit of a concern, perhaps heightened by the very pedestrian collegiate line of .287/.342/.419 he put up for Arizona State this season. In the field, Marrero shows good instincts with great range and a strong arm, even drawing to comparisons to Omar Vizquel according to his coach in the Cape Cod League. His bat still has the potential to profile as above-average, and he has put up good numbers in wood bat leagues in the past. Marrero as the chance to be selected anywhere from around picks 5-12 come draft day and while he doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as recent big-name shortstop prospects like Francisco Lindor or Manny Machado, but his combination of well-rounded tools and overall feel for the game could make him a quick riser through the Marlins’ system.
LHP Max Fried
Fried, a 6’4″ prep lefty, was part of perhaps the most intimidating 1-2 punch of any high school rotation in the country along with righty Luc Giolito. Hailing from Harvard Westlake HS in California (HS of Marlins’ 2010 first-rounder Christian Yelich), Fried isn’t projected to be an ace like his rotation mate, but still has chance to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Fried’s best pitch is his sharp curveball that features plenty of downward movement and should have no problem helping him rack up strikeouts in the lower levels of the professional ranks. The Marlins currently have several fringe lefty prospects in the system, led by Chad James, but Fried would surpass them in terms of upside.
OF Courtney Hawkins
Rumors have been floating around that the Marlins are high on Hawkins, a prep outfielder out of Carroll HS in Texas. At 6’3″, 210 lbs., Hawkins is a tremendous athlete with big time power potential. He’s still extremely raw in terms of his hitting ability, as evidenced by quite a few holes in his swing, but when he does get ahold of one, Hawkins has the ability to hit it out to all fields. In addition to his power potential, Hawkins also has a strong arm that profiles well in right field. He also pitched in his time at Carroll, with his fastball running up to as high as 92 mph. Because Hawkins is still so raw, he’ll be a bit of a project for the team that drafts him, but he certainly has the athleticism to be able to put it all together. An outfield featuring Hawkins and Christian Yelich has got to sound pretty nice for Marlins fans, don’t ya think?
Others to watch for: RHP Marcus Stroman (Duke), OF Albert Amora (Mater Academy – FL), RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco), SS Carlos Correa (PR Baseball Academy)
Scouting reports/statistics were gathered from sites like MLB Draft Insider and Baseball Prospect Nation. It’s great that more and more people are starting to become interested in the Draft in recent years and the Internet has allowed everyone to keep tabs on prospects like never before.
You can also read up on the specifics of how the new CBA affects the Draft here at Baseball America.