MO2 observations from the MLB Draft and All-Star Game
So much action in so few days. The MLB Draft and All-Star Game overlapped this years. Man On Second Baseball breaks down some of the highlights as it relates to the Marlins
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Weeks before the 2014 MLB Draft, former Marlins manager and special advisor Jack McKeon was at the ballpark taking in a Marlins game. I bumped into Jack, and our conversation eventually turned to the upcoming draft.
The Marlins picked second overall that year, and it was up in the air who the Astros would take at No. 1.
The consensus top three pitchers then, in no particular order, were left-handers Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic (Ca.) H.S.), Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State), and hard-throwing right-hander Tyler Kolek (Shepherd (Tx) High School).
From what I was hearing then, Aiken wasn’t in serious consideration for the Marlins. So I asked McKeon, who should Miami take — Kolek or Rodon?
Without hesitation, McKeon replied: “I’d take Trea Turner and put him at short. He would be my shortstop and leadoff hitter for a decade.”
Turner was a college teammate of Rodon at N.C. State, and McKeon, who lives in Elon, N.C., had seen him play plenty of times.
Turns out, the top three picks in the 2014 draft were: Houston – Aiken; Marlins – Kolek, and White Sox – Rodon.
With the 13th pick, the Padres selected Turner, who eventually was traded to the Nationals. The rest is history.
McKeon nailed it. Turner is a staple at the top of Washington’s order and one of the league’s better shortstops.
Aiken and Kolek never panned out. While Rodon was an All-Star this year (he threw a no-hitter), his career has been filled with ups and downs.
The past few days, I’ve been thinking about what McKeon said in 2014. Not to remind that there are no sure bets in the MLB Draft. We can address why Kolek, who is no longer with the organization, didn’t pan out on another day.
For now, I’m thinking about Turner, and McKeon’s projection. I’m wondering if the Marlins in the 2021 Draft just landed a Turner-caliber player in Kahlil Watson.
With the 16th overall pick on Monday, Watson slipped to Miami. Many projected the left-handed hitting shortstop from Wake Forest (N.C.) High School star to go in the top 10.
Could Watson become to the Marlins what Turner is to the Nationals? From what I’m hearing, he can be an impactful shortstop and top of the order-caliber player for years to come.
If Watson is that kind of player, you that all-day, every day.
No shortage of shortstops
Shortstops were a strength of the 2021 MLB Draft, and the Marlins took three of them with their first four picks.
After taking Watson in the first round, Miami selected Cody Morisette from Boston College in the second round, and Jordan McCants from Pensacola Catholic High School in round three.
In all, 10 of the first 28 players taken in the first round were shortstops.
“There were some really, really good shortstops in this draft,” Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said. “High school shortstops are a strength. College shortstop, maybe not so much. But high school shortstops were the strength of the draft.”
In Morisette, the Marlins added an advanced college hitter.
McCants is a Mississippi State commit, so we’ll see how they manage their bonus money to get everyone signed.
Watson projects to be the prize of Miami’s draft.
“Just a very dynamic player,” Svihlik said. “When you sign a high school player who is this dynamic, and can do so many things, you don’t always know where they’re going to end up on the field.”
Having athletic players creates positional flexibility.
“I think in today’s game, it’s something that we stress, positional flexibility,” Svihlik said. “It’s part of our evaluation. You always feel good about shortstops.”
The fifth inning was Trevor’s time in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Marlins rookie left-hander Trevor Rogers took the mound for the National League in that frame, and he dealt with some tough luck. He was charged with two unearned runs, but overall, threw the ball well.
Rogers’ fastball maxed at 98.8 mph, and he struck out J.D. Martinez on a changeup.
Rogers has been the Marlins’ breakout performer in 2021. In his first full big league season, the lefty has a 2.31 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 101 1/3 innings.
Now, he has a chance to rest up, regroup and get ready for the second half.
It will be interesting to see what Rogers takes away from the All-Star experience. In 2019, Sandy Alcantara was an All-Star, and he became a much better pitcher after that experience.