With the annual Rule 4 draft coming very soon, we reach the present-day draft history of the Florida Marlins. This draft class constitutes the most important set of players to the current Marlins team. The players of the 2006 draft class and forward in particular are going be the backbone of the team’s future, so it is imperative that the Marlins get the most of what they can from these draft picks.
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Obviously this class has not had a lot of time to breathe as professionals. Only four of these players have seen more than one season’s worth of significant playing time at their positions, with three others figuring to receive heavy playing time sometime in the future. Only one player on this list, Chris Volstad, has been named the #1 prospect on the Marlins by Baseball America. The player with next highest rank in a BA prospects list was Sean West, who ranked fourth on the team’s list last season.
The only valuable pieces so far have been Volstad, Chris Coghlan, and Brett Carroll. Volstad was your classic Marlins draft pick, a first-round high school/prep arm, the type of player the Marlins have been spending first rounders for years. So far in the majors, he has disappointed. His early promotion in 2008 went extremely well, but was the beneficiary of an extremely low home run rate. As if by karmic magic, Volstad’s 2009 was the polar opposite in terms of home runs; he gave 29 home runs in 29 starts and was sent down to the minors late in the year. This year, he has returned and looks much better, though questions have risen about Volstad’s ceiling, especially with his ground ball numbers still decent for a GB pitcher and his walk rates not acceptable for a pitcher who does not miss bats.
Coghlan is the oinly other player on this list that is assuredly in the Marlins’ long term plans. Drafted in the supplemental round in 2006, he broke out in 2009 with his excellent rookie season. However, he also struggled a good deal on defense adjusting to left field, and his value suffered there. In addition, Coghlan’s plate discipline and BABIP have slipped to start 2010, with only marginal improvement as the season has progressed. Coghlan’s role in the future of the Marlins is at second base, but he has to prove that this season’s early problems are not indicative of anything but an early season slump.
Of course, the players listed are perhaps slightly less important than the players that the Marlins have drafted during this time period who have not reached the majors yet.
These are the biggest in the Marlins’ most recent draft history, and they will help define the future of this organization. Matt Dominguez is struggling with his bat in Double-A again this season, but he has a plus-plus glove at third base and is ready defensively for the majors. Mike Stanton is arriving shortly on the Marlins’ front door and is expected to produce immediately. Kyle Skipworth is on his last legs as a prospect, but still holds a lot of promise. Chad James is yet another stellar prep arm that the Marlins took in the first round. Along with these guys come players like Logan Morrison, Bryan Bergelund, and Brad Hand from recent drafts that will look to make an impact soon.
It remains to be seen what the Marlins will ultimately get from the likes of Volstad, Coghlan, or the youngsters who have not yet arrived, but their performance will be critical to the Marlins’ contention in years to come. If Dominguez, Stanton, and Morrison all connect at the big league level, the Marlins offense may be one of the best in the game. But only time will tell in this regard.