Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Ryan Lillie, RHP, UC Riverside, 5th round

Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /

After selecting a right-handed pitcher in the fourth round, the Miami Marlins continued the trend in the fifth round.

Stocking up on arms was a priority for the Miami Marlins. With a number of valuable players available throughout the second day, it’s a chance to build your future bullpen. The team continued along that vein by selecting right-handed pitcher Ryan Lillie.

Lillie stands an even 6 feet tall, and weighs in at 190 pounds. Considered small by Major League standards, Lillie is still able to bring considerable heat from the mound. He is young as a pitcher, but the team loved the potential for upside they saw in Lillie.

A converted catcher, Lillie hasn’t been pitching for all that long. Being taken in the fifth round speaks volumes for what the team thinks he might become.

Just ask his former college baseball coach, Troy Percival, what he thinks of the converted catcher.

"“He (Lillie) has been great. He comes in here three or four times a week and we just talk baseball — situations, and what to expect at the next level … He’s been very proactive in trying to learn the ins and outs of becoming a pitcher.”"

Percival should know what he’s talking about, and when he says that Lillie has a strong arm, you’re inclined to believe him. Percival made the transition in college as well, and eventually would up winning a World Series with the Angels in 2002 as their closer.

For a time, he was as dominant a closer as there was in Major League baseball.

Lillie will take a lot of development before he is able to start appearing in Major League games. But if he is as devoted to success as Percival indicates, he’ll get there eventually.

He certainly has the goods to get the job done.

A closer look

Ryan Lillie’s numbers aren’t impressive. But this is a matter of scouts going out and seeing what he is capable of in person. At 2-7, with a 4.69 ERA in his senior season, he wouldn’t be drawing any attention if it weren’t for his raw talent.

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Lillie bounced around between the pen and the starting rotation. He’s shown the ability to do both, but finds his greatest success when he is asked to pitch short periods of time. When he’s able to put max-effort into every pitch, the strikeouts pile up in a hurry.

He racked up 80 K’s in only 71 innings. As you’d expect, he relies heavily on his fastball which lives in the mid-90’s. He also possesses a good slider, which should develop into a plus-pitch with time and development.

Lillie will likely end up in the bullpen when all is said and done. His numbers as a starting pitcher aren’t encouraging, and developing two more usable pitches would be a significant undertaking. In an effort to speed up his development, he projects to be a one-inning, bring the heat type pitcher.

Next: Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Colton Hock, 4th round, RHP

The Marlins drafted a project with Ryan Lillie. He’ll take significant amounts of development before he is ready to pitch for the highest level in the system. If he continues to improve, he might end up being what his coach, Troy Percival was to the Angels.

The Miami Marlins organization would be just fine with that.