MLB Draft analysis: The lesson in who Miami Marlins draft

Can Miami Marlins fans learn anything about roster plans from who the club picks in the MLB Draft?Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Can Miami Marlins fans learn anything about roster plans from who the club picks in the MLB Draft?Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Josh Beckett easily stands out as the best first round draft pick in Miami Marlins history. But the success of that selection has been far from the norm for this franchise.

The MLB Draft history of the Miami Marlins is a bizarre one indeed when it comes to that first round, to the point of it being comforting to Miami Dolphins fans and difficult to make rhyme or reason of. But this article, in honor of the start of the 2017 MLB Draft tonight, is going to give it a shot for all you Marlins draftniks out there.

Tonight, when the team makes their first round selection, it will technically be for the thirty-second time in franchise history. That inflated number is the product of a slew of competitive balance and compensatory picks.

The 2005 MLB draft that saw the Miami Marlins make five first round selections thanks to the loss of Armando Benitez and Carl Pavano in free-agency.

The problem is that of those five picks, only Chris Volstad ever stuck around on the MLB roster long enough to do anything constructive. Even he put together a mediocre career, going 32-39 with an ERA just south of 5.00 for his career.

Only one other selection (Sean West) made more than  six appearances with the club, and two never made it to the majors at all.

In fact, only five first round picks in franchise history can be considered legitimate successes. And one of those was traded before he could make the team, ironically to give the poster child pictured above some needed bullpen help in picking up that 2003 World Championship.

Charles Johnson, Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez. That’s it.

Is the future brighter?

Five years from now, Braxton Garrett, Andrew Heaney, and Tyler Kolek might all have blossomed into household names. And yes, I am blowing bast former Rookie of the Year Winner Chris Coghlan. Capable roleplayer is not being considered as a successful career in this space.

Not since 2012 pick of Heaney has a first rounder cracked the roster for Miami. Colin Moran in 2013 marks the last time for any MLB roster, and that streak appears to be in no danger of ending soon. So we are due. There’s that.

The bigger question is if we can hope to glean anything about the intended direction of the team from who they pick tonight. Is there a specific position that, if focused upon, sheds some light on who may, or may not be traded this July if things go south again?

The answer is probably not.

Unlike the NBA and NFL, decoding intentions in the MLB draft is really difficult. There are just too many rounds, too much variation. Giancarlo Stanton was the 76th pick in 2007. You’d have a hard time saying more than three players taken ahead of him are actually better.

Tom Brady being drafted in the sixth round is a historically great pick for that league. A Stanton-type selecting happens every year in baseball.

Nearly six hundred players were drafted before John Smoltz. Well over a thousand before Mike Piazza. At least ten pitchers went before Randy Johnson in 1985, and you’ve probably never heard of any of them.

What they’ll do

More than likely, the Marlins will be drafting a pitcher with the thirteenth selection tonight. If you’re a glass half full type person, Jose Fernandez was taken one pick later. Glass half empty, fondly reflect on Matt Dominguez being taken twelfth, two picks ahead of where Jason Heyward was drafted that year.

Pitching screams out to be addressed. The Fish usually draft pitching, having done so seventeen times overall, but just once in the last three years. They’re due to take a pitcher.

That last is the closest I’ll come to a prediction. If the Miami Marlins do go the position player route- especially outfielder Austin Beck- then I would take that as a sure sign the team is planning on moving one of their MLB regulars for pitching prospects.