Miami Marlins draft prospect: Dakota Bennett, LHP, 11th round

Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images
Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images /

The Miami Marlins got lucky with their 11th round selection. To start the third day of the draft, Miami selected the U.S. high-school strike out leader.

The first pick of the final day of the draft was off and rolling with a gamble from the Miami Marlins. They selected prep school lefty Dakota Bennett, and prayed that he’d sign. Bennett originally committed to pitch for the University of Arkansas, and it appeared he’d be following through with that commitment.

That was until he got a call from the Miami Marlins. It took Bennett all of two hours to decide he wanted to start his pro career. With the selection, the Marlins got a pitcher who could one day develop into a dominant left-handed arm.

If he has anywhere near the success he had in high school, he’ll be setting records once he arrives.

In 64.1 innings, Bennett has totaled 144 strike outs. That’s good for 2.3 K’s every inning, and is believed to be the best in the country. Standing at 6-foot-2, and weigh only 170-pounds, he could grow into the mid-six foot range. Bennett is only 18 years old, after all.

If he does, it could be curtains for would-be base runners. According to his high school coach, there isn’t a single tool that Bennett doesn’t possess:

"“He is a 6-2 lefty that throws a lot of strikes, locates well, hides the ball well, works quick, usually throws mid-upper 80’s, has a lot of movement, reads hitters well, and thinks ahead in the count,” coach Tony Drinkard said. “Basically, he does all the things you have to do as a pitcher to have that many strikeouts.”"

Even when batters are able to put the bat on the ball, it usually doesn’t result in a hit. Bennett allowed only 14 hits in his entire senior season. Of the 238 batters that he faced the entire year, only 36 reached base.

A dose of context

The potential for Bennett is great. And there is certainly reason to get excited and start dreaming of a future where he is a member of a stable of dominant arms.

But keep in mind the jump from high school to professional baseball is large. In fact, many later-round youngsters crumble under the weight of competition. Hitters are better, more patient, and more willing to take a walk. Bennett will be asked to pitch to contact more often if he wants to stay in the starting rotation.

If he is unable to do that, he projects to be more of a strikeout specialist, lefty matchup type pitcher. That isn’t what Miami wants out of him though, so they’ll give him a long leash before deciding to put him in the pen for good.

Next: Miami Marlins draft spotlight: Denis Karas, 10th round

He hasn’t put too much wear on his arm to this point. He threw fewer than 1,000 pitches during his entire senior season; including three complete game no-hitters.

Despite being drafted in the 10th round, Miami decided to give him a signing bonus of $350k, well above the normal amount for a third day selection. They feel that they’ve gotten a steal with Bennett, and they might be right.

He possess everything you could possibly want in a pitching prospect. It’ll be a long ride until he’s able to make an appearance in a Major League game, but one day you might see a graphic that says something like: “Players who were taken before Dakota Bennett” slideshow.

The Miami Marlins think he can be that good.