How the Marlins parlayed a 20th round pick on Jordan Holloway

How the Marlins parlayed a 20th round pick on Jordan Holloway


MO2 revisits the scouting process that went into locating, drafting and signing Holloway as a late-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

The first MLB start was a bit rocky for Miami Marlins right-hander Jordan Holloway on Monday night in a 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In 3 2/3 innings, the 24-year-old gave up four runs (three earned), and his outing ended after 68 pitches.

Transitioning from the bullpen to a spot starter, Holloway was on a pitch limit of about 65.

Even on a night that didn’t go his way, the fact Holloway has a chance to become an impactful big leaguer is a success story.

With a fastball that has touched triple digits in the past, and an improving slider, Holloway projects to be a versatile pitching piece for the Marlins, either in the rotation or bullpen. His talents now are obvious. But they weren’t so much when he was coming out of high school in Arvado, Colorado.

While the 6-foot-6, right-hander continues to make the necessary adjustments to remain in the big leagues, MO2 reminds that his baseball journey wasn’t always considered automatic.

The Marlins selected Holloway in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Then graduating from Ralston Valley High School, Holloway signed with Miami for $400,000, opting for pro ball over a college opportunity at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

“He was what we’d call, a classic projection pitcher,” former Marlins amateur scouting director Stan Meek told MO2. “That’s why we took him a little later, because there wasn’t a lot of people on him. He was a high school kid, throwing 89-91 [mph]. We just thought the way it all worked, that this guy was going to throw harder. We didn’t know how much harder. I thought it was worth the gamble, handing him the money.”

Typically, 20th round picks are offered bonuses more in the $20,000 range than $400,000. But that was Holloway’s asking price, no matter the round once it got into the teens.

“We knew that going into the Draft,” Meek said. “He basically had said, that’s the bottom line number for me to come out, or I was going to go to college.”

Marlins area scout Scott Stanley, based in Phoenix, Ariz., first identified Holloway, who wasn’t being heavily recruited. Three years later, the Marlins drafted another player that Stanley heavily scouted, left-hander Trevor Rogers, Miami’s first-round pick in 2017. MO2 recently revisited how the Marlins ended up drafting Rogers, with Meek providing the details.

Stanley, Scott Goldby (Western U.S. Supervisor) and former national cross checker David Crowson, all played a role in Miami drafting Holloway and Rogers.

As for Holloway, Meek and Crowson had been in San Diego, Calif., scouting left-hander Brady Aiken, taken first overall in 2014. Unfortunately, injuries derailed Aiken’s career.

Aiken’s career is a reminder that it doesn’t always work out for the even the highest ranked players. The Marlins saw that in the same Draft. In 2014, they made right-hander Tyler Kolek the No. 2 overall pick. Kolek is no longer with the organization.

However, in the same 2014 draft, Miami selected third baseman Brian Anderson in the third round. Left-hander Dillon Peters was taken in the 10th round. In the fourth round, the Marlins took infielder Brian Schales. A few years ago, Miami traded Schales to Minnesota for reliever Nick Anderson.

In 2019, Anderson was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade that included outfield prospect, Jesus Sanchez, who is off to a blistering start at Triple-A Jacksonville.

Holloway is proof that a low-round pick still can emerge as a big league talent.

The day after Meek saw Aiken pitch in California, he flew to Denver.

In one day, he ended up seeing three pitchers who have since pitched in the big leagues: David Peterson, Brock Burke and Holloway.

Peterson is currently in the New York Mets’ rotation, and Burke is now with the Texas Rangers.

Jordan Holloway made his first MLB start on Monday

Peterson ended up going to college at Oregon and was the Mets’ first-round pick in 2017. Burke, who went to Evergreen High School in Colorado, was picked in the third round by the Rays in 2014.

Peterson and Burke were higher-profile targets at the time than Holloway.

Stanley had previously seen Holloway pitch in the spring, when his high school team played in a tournament in Arizona. It’s common for Colorado schools to make annual spring trips to Arizona to escape the cold.

Since Meek was in Denver, after seeing Peterson and Burke, he hustled over to see Holloway playing in the state tournament.

“He was playing third,” Meek recalls. “They had to win that game to play in the state finals the next day, which he was going to pitch. When I walked in, it was the sixth inning and they were down, 8-0. So, I go, ‘Well, It’s over. They’re going to lose, and he’s not going to pitch, and I won’t see him.’ “

In a surprise move, Holloway was given the ball in the seventh inning, the last of his prep career. To the delight of Meek, he was able to see an inning of Holloway on the mound.

“I got to see him in the last game that he pitched,” Meek said. “Our guys liked him. When you’re handed $400,000 for a low-pick, you like to have your own eyes on him, if you can.

“I thought he had a chance to be a project guy, and his velocity would continue on. Fortunately, that’s happened.”

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