Marlins Draft 2020

Miami, Florida – The 2020 MLB Draft came and went and for the second year in a row, I’m pretty happy with the Miami Marlins’ decisions as a result. This time around the selection process was shortened to just five rounds (plus competitive picks) and the team loaded up with arms the entire way. Prior to the draft one of their needs down in the farm system was a catcher but Miami doubled down on the mound, two of whom can be starters right away. One can never have too many arms in this league.

Without further ado, let’s introduce the newest Marlins to join the organization that’s slowly but surely increasing its competitive quality. 

Max Meyer

Draft Order: Round 1, 3rd Pick Overall

School: Minnesota

Pick Value: $7.22m

The Marlins found themselves in a very interesting scenario after the Baltimore Orioles went with an unexpected pick in Heston Kjerstad (has good film tastes judging by the movie posters in his house) giving them the opportunity to select Austin Martin or Asa Lacy. They chose neither. Instead, the team went with Max Meyer, and looking back it seems to have been the right choice. He pitches with fire under him, pissed off even by his own words. Playing with a chip on his shoulder the kid definitely has the stuff. In fact, he is projected to be a starter. The organization has made it clear they didn’t pick him third overall to be a reliever. 

His slider is considered the best in this year’s draft with a four-seam fastball that can hit 100 mph. Another weapon in his repertoire is the breaking ball, a pitch he used more often in his junior year. According to the scouting reports, his weakness is his height. Standing at 6’0 there were concerns over his size but to borrow from the movie “Money Ball” its a bias. Do you know who else was six feet tall? Roy Oswalt.  

Daxton Fulton

Draft Order: Round 2, 40th Pick Overall

School: Mustang High School (Oklahoma)

Pick Value: $1.86m

So we’re going from one of the most explosive arms to a two-way player. Possibly the most attractive pick of the second round, Daxton Fulton was the consensus top-ranked left-handed high school pitcher in the 2020 MLB Draft. He was also selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic but missed the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. Standing at 6’6 the southpaw throws a 90-93 mph fastball that will only get better once he returns. He wields a curveball with power and depth and his changeup shows promise.

The Marlins are banking on Fulton making a fast recovery. When healthy, the lefty has control and is capable of throwing strikes with the entire arsenal. Scouts say for being such a tall young man, he does a good job of keeping his body in sync when throwing. If his rehab goes well and is able to stay fit, the youngster has the stuff to make a positive impact on the team. A prospect to keep an eye on once they give him some innings.

Kyle Nicholas

Draft Order: Competitive Balancing, 61st Pick Overall

School: Ball State

Pick Value: $1.13m

Another flame thrower, Nicholas throws a mid-90s fastball capable of hitting 100 making it one of the best in college baseball. Pitching for power, Nicholas can also overwhelm opposing hitters with a mid-80s slider that can feature a sharp break when he’s pouring it on. Both have high spin rates, offering legit swing-and-miss ratios. Moving down, his curveball is decent and has its moments with his changeup being the least impressive of what he brings to the table. According to the scouting report, his delivery is fine and the righty doesn’t throw with excessive effort but his mechanics need more work. This will be something to observe when batters look to steadily raise his pitch count at the plate.

Kyle Nicholas tossed 23 innings, posting an 0-1 record and a 2.74 ERA in four starts this season, punching out 37 with seven walks. If that doesn’t impress you, on his last outing of the year, he recorded 17 strikeouts in seven innings of work. The performance earned him National Player of the Week honors from Collegiate Baseball Network and Rawlings. His minus is inconsistency against hitters, though he did improve his walk ratio this season.

Zach McCambley 

Draft Order: Round 3, 75th Pick Overall

School: Coastal Carolina

Pick Value: $831.10k 

Scouts have been interested in this player since his high school days back in Pennsylvania. However, he suffered a minor knee injury as a senior and was deemed unsignable. In 2017, McCambley went undrafted. In his first two seasons with the Chanticleers, he jumped between the rotation and bullpen due to inconsistency. The righty did bounce back with a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. His curveball and fastball have high spin rates, appealing to a lot of ballclubs. The curve clocks in the low 80s, diving hard at the plate giving hitters fits. The heater ranges 90-94 mph and can top out at 96, making him another flame thrower for the organization. 

Zach McCambley was named part of the 2020 All-Sunbelt Preseason Team, going 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts this season. He recorded 32 K’s in 25 innings, the fifth most in the Sun Belt Conference. In order to become a starter in the pros, experts say McCambley needs to hone in on his control and command. The changeup needs further refinement and his delivery is part of the problem for him to locate his fastball. The curveball, meanwhile, might not fool advanced hitters because it breaks so much they refuse to chase.

Jake Eder

Draft Order: Round 4, 104th Pick Overall

School: Vanderbilt

Pick Value: $560.00k

This Vandy Boy was ranked the 59th best prospect in the 2020 draft. He was also the fifth-best high school lefty in the 2017 edition. A midweek starter as a freshman, Eder went over to the bullpen as a sophomore where he closed out the team’s 2019 College World Series Championship with a three-inning save against Michigan. While he did improve his stuff in the Cape Cod League last summer and continued to practice in the fall, his velocity and control regressed this year. His fastball can hit 97 mph and his curveball acts as a good complement but there are days both end up lacking.

Eder’s changeup is good but remains a work in progress due to little use. Sometimes he has trouble finding the zone and when he does, hitters make him pay dearly. The southpaw went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in six appearances (four starts) this season. In 2019, he posted a 2-0 record and a 2.97 ERA in 19 games, all of them in relief. With a frame built for durability, the hometown kid from Ocean Ridge, Florida has the potential of becoming a mid-rotation starter. If he can improve on consistency and command.

Kyle Hurt

Draft Order: Round 5, 134th Pick Overall

School: USC

Pick Value: $418.20k

A combination of a knee injury and a strong commitment to his school made this youngster pass on being selected in the 2017 draft. He went in the 34th round. Then considered a Top 100 prospect, he opted to head to campus instead. His college career is filled with ups and downs. Kyle Hurt became the Friday night starter in his sophomore year, a spot he held in 2020 before things shut down. Scouts believe he has the size and pure stuff to be a very strong pitcher. The fastball currently ranges 92-94 mph and can top out to 97 mph. Velocity can be consistently at the higher end, experts say, as he continues to add strength. The hard thrower’s best secondary pitch is the changeup that could become an asset in time. His slider clocks in at the upper 80s and his curve is in the upper 70s but both are unreliable breaking pitches. 

Hurt hasn’t always been able to lock down command, nor maintained it deep into games. Sometimes he’s throwing sharp stuff, other times less so. Not much else is known about his attributes since scouts this spring had very limited time to completely examine him. The hurler put up a 2-1 performance with a 3.71 ERA in four starts this season. He held opposing hitters to a cool .190 batting average whiffing 25 of them, walking only eight. 

Verdict

All these pitchers have the stuff needed to be great. The Marlins went with a few surprises and no doubt this selection carries the designation of high risk, high reward. But if they can develop these guys we can have quite the scary set of arms in the (near) future. Presently, at least two of these guys can be outright starters: Max Meyer and Zach McCambley. Meyer in particular can change the conversation dramatically when it comes to the Marlins’ rotation, think of the possibilities. 

Looking back at the opening round of the draft, I still wonder about Asa Lacy and Austin Martin. Considering Jazz Chisholm is the future, Martin was never truly part of the equation. Although it’s worth saying the Vanderbilt star is very versatile, playing in nearly every position except pitcher and catcher, settling in at third base most of the time. Lacy is a Top-5 prospect with his fastball and two distinct breaking balls in the form of a curveball and a slider. However, he struggles with command and control. Something about Meyer’s attitude shines out at me which is why I won’t fret too much. 

Due to the potential pitfalls of these players and no selections to fill the farm system need of a catcher, I give the Miami Marlins a B+ in this year’s draft.

Also, shout outs to both UM and FIU for a successful draft. The Miami Hurricanes saw three of their players going to the big leagues along with Florida International’s ace Logan Allen (Cleveland Indians). Slade Cecconi was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a competitive balance pick while Chris McMahon and Freddy Zamora went to the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers respectively, in the second round. Here’s to wishing all of them a very bright future.

Photo Credit | Marlins Twitter

 

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SoccerShape
Gabriel Garcia
Just an avid sports fan who happens to have a love-hate (mostly love) relationship with his local teams be it collegiate or professional and also happens to be a news junkie. Mix in outstanding optimism with cold realism and you've got yourself a balanced cocktail perfect for champions.

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