The Marlins have built a solid minor league program from top to bottom through trades, international signings, the rule 5 draft, and yes, even the annual June draft over the past three seasons.
Riley Mahan joined the Marlins organization after getting chosen in the draft in 2017, with their third round pick with the 89th selection off the board. A six-foot-three, 185 lb. second baseman, Mahan was born 24-years-ago today in Westchester, OH.
It wasn’t the first time Mahan was selected. In 2014, the San Francisco Giants chose him with their 40th round choice, only gambling a low level pick because Mahan was likely to choose higher learning. They were right.
In three seasons of Division I play with the University of Kentucky Wildcats, Mahan increased his draft stock with each passing campaign. In 2017, he slashed .336/.392/.618 in 66 games, with 15 home runs and 67 RBI. He also showed a little speed, stealing nine bases in 12 attempts, and finished the year as a third-team All-American. Mahan was second in the SEC with 162 total bases and with 41 extra base hits that year, ranking third with 23 doubles.
After signing with the Marlins for $525K following the draft, Mahan joined the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League. He only appeared in six games, and went seven-for-27 with a homer and four RBI in the short look before going on the injured list for the rest of the season.
According to the Baseball America draft report (subscription required), Mahan is a below average defender at both second base and shortstop, but projects as a decent corner outfielder with his plus arm.
Entering the 2018 season, Mahan was regarded as the Marlins number 20 overall prospect, according to the MLB Pipeline. In a full season with the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, Mahan hit .250/.298/.340 with three home runs and 40 RBI. He stole seven bases in nine tries, but the only category in which he appeared with the league leaders was in strikeouts, at an FSL fifth-most 127.
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Mahan started the 2019 season still in Jupiter, and still ranked as Miami’s number 30 prospect, according to Baseball America. In 60 games he pushed all of his metrics sharply upwards, slashing .279/.366/.400 with five round-trippers and 19 RBI. His 25 walks was good for a 10.1 percent walk-rate, but with 72 strikeouts he actually whiffed more often than in 2018, at 29 percent.
Even so, the Marlins had seen enough to push Mahan up to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the remainder of the season. He appeared in 61 games with the Double-A Southern League affiliate, hitting .222/.259/.372 with six homers and 30 RBI. His “patience” stats, so promising with Jupiter to start the season, bottomed out with Jacksonville. Mahan drew only eight walks while striking out 62 more times. He did club six home runs with 30 RBI, and the Marlins are still high on him.
Look for Mahan to commence the 2020 season back with the Jumbo Shrimp once more.