Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Riley Mahan, Kentucky, 2B

Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Marlins didn’t surprise many people with the way they drafted. It was a conservative approach in all 40 rounds. Let’s take a look at their third round selection, 89th overall.

Being taken in the third round means the team still expects a lot out of you. For the Miami Marlins, Riley Mahan is a player they took despite more immediate needs elsewhere. A college prospect out of Kentucky, they’ll expect his trip through the minor leagues to be speedy and efficient.

Mahan played all three skill infield positions in college. Most of his time was split between second base and shortstop. It appears that the Marlins view him as a second basemen at the highest level. He was announced as a second baseman when they selected him.

Mahan bats from the left side, but throws from the right. His arm his accurate, but isn’t strong enough to throw from across the diamond at the MLB level. A possible move to left field is possible if second base doesn’t work out.

While his defense is solid, the real reason the Marlins drafted him is his bat.

Mahan doesn’t hit for a ton of power, though the potential does exist. Scouts rave about his smooth, left-handed swing. He hits a lot of line drives into the gap and possess excellent bat control.

What sold scouts on Mahan was his ability to make adjustments at the plate. Despite his previous statistical output being impressive, his numbers still improved significantly in 2017. While hitting .336 this season at Kentucky, he produced 15 home runs and 67 RBI’s.

He slashed .336/.392/.618 for the 2017 baseball season. 1.010 OPS.

His collegiate career ends with him ranked highly in a number of all-time statistical categories for Kentucky. This season, he was ranked as the 31st draft-eligible player in the SEC, one of the most competitive baseball conferences.

What else can he do?

Mahan possess great speed and excellent base running abilities. His IQ on the base paths is high, and he seldom makes mistakes running the bases. His combination of speed and intelligence often allows him to stretch singles into doubles, and score when other runners can’t.

Of his 88 hits this past season, 23 of them were doubles. He finishes his career tied with legendary Reds shortstop Barry Larkin for most career triples in program history. He also finished second all-time in career steals with 50.

The Marlins aren’t the first team to recognize his projectable Major League abilities. Mahan was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 40th round coming out of high school. He elected to go to college instead, and improved his draft position by 37 rounds.


En route to becoming a professional ballplayer, Riley Mahan accumulated quite the trophy case of acknowledgments and achievements. Particularly in his 2017 season:

  • Baseball America Third-Team All-America (2017)
  • Collegiate Baseball Second-Team All-America (2017)
  • Second-Team All-SEC (2017)
  • Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist (2017)
  • 3x SEC Player of the Week

Let’s hope that his success in 2017 is the result of a ballplayer starting to figure things out, not a one-hit wonder. Previous success in college and high school provides enough evidence that isn’t the case.

Next: A list of all the Miami Marlins 2017 draft selections

Taken in the third round, Riley Mahan should make it to the Major Leagues eventually. He’s a fairly mature player coming out of college and should be able to rise through the system quickly. He could arrive in Miami as early as 2019, but 2020 or 2021 seems more likely.

What he does, he does well. Work the count, line drives, create defensive problems on the bases. Riley Mahan, the 89th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, now a member Miami Marlins.