Dream Draft that almost happen: Yelich, Simmons, Realmuto in first three rounds
The 2010 Marlins MLB Draft was special because Miami landed Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. In between, they almost added slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
The 2010 MLB Draft already ranks among the best in Miami Marlins’ history.
Two picks alone make that an elite Draft Class. With the 23rd overall pick, the Marlins selected Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto was taken in Round Three. When you grab an MVP outfielder and perennial All-Star catcher, you don’t really need much else to validate the class.
As great as those two picks turned out, the player that got away still is a thorn in the side of the man who ran the Marlins’ drafts back then.
Stan Meek, formerly the Marlins vice president of scouting, notes that in round two of 2010, the Marlins were just three picks away from a trifecta that would have made it a class for the ages.
The Marlins had the 73rd overall pick, and with the pick, they were hoping to land an under-the-radar talent from Western Oklahoma State College. They felt they were going to get him, too, until the Atlanta Braves, with pick No. 70, selected shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Still, two out of three ain’t bad, right?
Theoretically, yes. Still, Meek and the Marlins can only wonder what might have been had Simmons slipped three more spots.
“That Draft sticks in my head, not because of the two guys that we got, but the guy that we didn’t get in between, that I really felt we were going to get,” Meek said in the July 7 ManOn2nd podcast. “In fact, we felt that year that we would not get Yelich.”
Meek, who retired after the 2020 season, spent 30 years in professional baseball. In his storied scouting career, Meek ran drafts in which the Marlins selected Chris Coghlan (2009) NL Rookie of the Year, Giancarlo Stanton (2017 N.L. MVP), Yelich (2018 N.L. MVP), Realmuto (All-Star), Jose Fernandez (2013 Rookie of the Year), Trevor Rogers (2021 N.L. All-Star) and more.
As a guest on the ManOn2nd podcast, Meek provided plenty of insights and stories in an exclusive on-hour interview.
When asked about the 2010 draft, Meek broke down how things played out in the first three rounds. The Marlins had targeted Yelich for the first round, but weren’t sure he would be on the board at pick 23.
David Crowson was the Marlins’ national cross checker at the time, and he had some doubts. Crowson was at a game in which Yelich belted a long home run, with rival scouts also in attendance.
“There was a club that came in and spent a ton of time with Yelich,” Meek said, not naming the team. “One of their national guys really liked his power. Crowson was there to see Yelich for about the third time. He said he hit a ball off a guy about 430 feet with that other club right there, and they were picking in front of us in the first round. They were picking in the teens. Crowson came back to me and said, ‘We need to find another guy. I don’t think we’re going to get Yelich.’ “
Yelich was a standout left-handed hitter from Westlake (Calif.) High School.
Anticipating Yelich being gone, the Marlins put extra emphasis on the fallback player.
It became Simmons, who was a pitcher and shortstop at Western Oklahoma State College.
“We had been scouting a guy who really wasn’t on the radar too much for anybody,” Meek said. “A really close friend of mine was the athletic director at this school. He told me, ‘I have a really good player in here, and I think he’s a true shortstop.’
“So I sent our regional guy down. He saw him, and the kid also pitched. And he threw the day we saw him. He played short and he pitched. He was a Junior College player. He threw like 97 off the mound.”
The Marlins did their homework on the two-way player from the small college.
“There weren’t too many people on him,” Meek said. “We were on him, and we were totally on him as a pitcher. We kept scouting him, and we saw tools to play shortstop.”
Concerned that Yelich may not be around, the Marlins scrambled for more looks on Simmons. They had then GM Michael Hill and then president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest both join the evaluation process.
“As it came down to it, with us thinking we were not going to get Yelich, we had this kid work out for us at short,” Meek said. “I had Mike Hill there. I had Larry Beinfest there. Both of those guys saw him work out, and both said, he would be a pretty nice pick if Yelich is gone.”
The plot changed on Draft Day.
“Of course, Yelich is there, and we take Yelich,” Meek said. “And a few picks before we pick in the second round, Andrelton Simmons goes to the Atlanta Braves. We were a few picks from going Yelich, Andrelton Simmons and J.T. Realmuto, which would have been really nice. Who knows? He might still be playing shortstop for the Marlins.”
Simmons broke in with the Braves in 2012, and he’s been a four-time Gold Glove award winner with Atlanta and the Angels. He’s currently with the Twins.
Yelich made his Marlins debut in 2013, and he’s now with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Marlins ended up taking lefty Rob Rasmussen from UCLA in the second round.
Rasmussen played in parts of two seasons with Toronto and Seattle in 2014-15.
The Marlins rebounded nicely to take Realmuto in the third round, with the 104th overall pick.
Realmuto made his MLB debut in 2014, and he’s regarded by many as the best all-around catcher in the Majors.
But on Draft Day 2010, Realmuto was listed as a shortstop.
Realmuto was a standout quarterback and shortstop who possessed great makeup, leadership and athletic abilities.
How he landed with the Marlins is a story in itself.
Carl Albert is about a half-hour ride from Meek’s home. Meek, who previously coached at the University of Oklahoma, watched Realmuto play in the high school football playoffs in November.
In the spring, he went to see Realmuto play baseball, anticipating he would be at shortstop. It didn’t play out that way on that day.
When Meek arrived at the field, the coach told him there was a change in plans.
The scheduled pitcher that day was sore, so the regular catcher ended up pitching. Realmuto was asked to catch, something he hadn’t done in a prep game.
Carl Albert was playing Deer Creek that day. That school featured two standout juniors: Michael Fulmer pitched and Brian Anderson played short.
Fulmer was the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year with the Tigers, and Anderson is currently the Marlins regular third baseman.
“What a day to scout,” Meek said. “Really, it’s out of a movie.”
On that day in the spring of 2010, Realmuto caught.
“J.T. Realmuto caught one game in his high school career,” Meek said. “I and the area man happened to be standing there when he caught that game.”
Behind the plate, Realmuto was unpolished, but he showed quick hands and feet.
“You could see he had really good hands,” Meek said.
It didn’t take long for Realmuto to showcase his terrific arm. In the first inning, a Deer Creek runner tried to steal second. He ended up being thrown out.
“I had no idea he had that kind of arm,” Meek said.
At the plate, Realmuto flashed surprising power.
In his first at-bat, he hit the ball off Fulmer over the batters eye in center field.
“Now my head is really spinning,” Meek said.
Realmuto showed a plus arm, great hands and real power.
What about his speed?
It didn’t take long for an answer on that question.
In his second at-bat, Realmuto bounced a ground ball to short, and sprints to first base in 4.2 seconds.
“That’s a plus Major League time,” Meek said. “So I’ve got a plus runner, with a plus arm, with a really good bat, big power. He’s got great feet and great hands. That literally doesn’t happen.”
Meek and the area scout each put a first-round grade on Realmuto.
After the game, Meek asked Realmuto if he would be willing to catch.
Realmuto replied: “Whatever gets me to the big leagues.”
The Marlins had all the answers they needed on Realmuto.
“We never went back,” Meek said. “I said, stay away.”
In Yelich and Realmuto, the Marlins landed two prize picks. But, the pick that got away in-between still stings a bit.