This is the time of the year that Miami Marlins fans typically ask the same question in unison.
The Marlins have been known to reach in the first round of the Major League draft, and have been as successful with their first round selections as Steve Cishek is in closing out games this season.
This season is no different. The Flounders went North of the Border to reach for Josh Naylor, a first baseman/outfielder that MLB.com did not rave about in their pre-draft analysis. They stated “There is a ton of power in the bat as well, with the potential to be a serious home run threat in the future. The other parts of Naylor’s game lag behind as he is a well below-average runner and doesn’t really have a true defensive position, though first base is likely to be his home. The team taking Naylor in the top few rounds will be buying his power potential, even if his best position will always be “batter’s box.””
So, MLB.com was suggesting that he be selected, as a power hitter, in the first few rounds, and the Marlins took him with the 12th overall selection. Sounds like a typical Miami move. Reach for a player that no one else wants at that position and let him die in your minor leagues. Miami has not gotten it right with the top pick since Jose Fernandez in 2011.
Since then, the picks have not seemed to work out. Their 2012 selection, pitcher Andrew Heaney, is no longer with the organization and was traded. Their top selection in 2013, Colin Moran, was also traded, to Houston, as part of the Jarred Cosart trade.
This is not to say that Naylor won’t be a good prospect, but was he was not worthy of being a first-round selection. Miami also did not need to address the first base position when they have Michael Morse and Justin Bour at the Major League level. Bour is a rookie and is outperforming Morse at present time.
The Marlins could have used the pick on more established, non-reach players such as UCLA pitcher James Kaprielian, Louisville pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, Florida shortstop Richie Martin or Vandy pitcher Walker Buehler. Miami is always in need of good young starting pitching. You can never have too much of that down on the farm.
Scouts have compared Naylor to 5-foot-11, 275-pound Prince Fielder, now of the Texas Rangers, and a first-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002, as well as six-foot, 250-pound Dan Vogelbach, a second-round choice of the Chicago Cubs in 2011.
Naylor is listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds.
“Josh is a more advanced hitter than anyone I’ve ever coached or seen in Canada including [last season’s 74th overall selection] Gareth [Morgan],” said Dan Bleiwas, to the Toronto Sun, who runs the amateur program in Toronto that Naylor played in and also doubles as a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. “His raw power is a tick above Gareth’s but, really, you are comparing an 80 power (on a 20-to-80 scale) with 70, so both would be at the very highest end for amateur players. The true separator however is Josh’s ability to hit with power in-game”.
The Marlins also had made selections in the first ten rounds by the end of Tuesday night. They failed to take one player from a Florida college, or one player from a South Florida high school that is considered a hot bed for Major League talent. Palm Beach County saw two top high school pitchers get selected in the second round, Tristan McKenzie and Austin Smith. The Marlins did not select either of them. It makes one wonder what other teams see in the local talent that the hometown team does not.
The University of Miami had three players selected in the first two days, as did Florida State University. None were selected by the Marlins. The University of Florida had six players selected in the first ten rounds, and the Flounders passed on all of them.
Instead, the Marlins go ice fishing in Canada for a first baseman.