The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is a little over a week away and the Marlins will be faced with the pressure of landing a talent worthy of becoming a future star.
Ever since 2002, when new ownership took over and the nucleus of the current front office was assembled, the Marlins have had 15 picks (between the 1st and sandwich rounds) and the results have been less than satisfactory.
Their picks from 2002 to 2005 are not even at the major league level as of this current moment and that includes outfielder Jeremy Hermida (2002) and pitchers Jeff Allison (2003), Taylor Tankersley (2004), Aaron Thompson (2005), Jacob Marceaux (2005), Ryan Tucker (2005) and Sean West (2005).
Since 2006, the Marlins have changed their pitcher-heavy strategy but that has come back to bite them. In 2006, they took pitcher Brett Sinkbeil with their 1st round pick but selected infielder Chris Coghlan who won National League Rookie of the Year in 2009. However Sinkbeil ended up being another bust and Coghlan has not been the same since an infamous pie throwing celebration in July 2010.
Currently, their 1st round draft picks from 2007 to 2008 have to be considered busts because none have made it to the major leagues or have performed well enough to stay. Slick fielding third baseman Matt Dominguez (2007) has not hit well in AAA New Orleans this year (.225 BA in 160 at-bats) and catcher Kyle Skipworth (2008) hasn't fared better either (.182 BA in 132 at-bats) at AA Jacksonville.
Their 2009 pick Chad James hasn't excelled well (career record of 12-27 and WHIP of 1.53) but it might be early to call him a bust; the Marlins might just convert him into a reliever and see where that takes them.
But their last two first round picks, outfielder Christian Yelich (2010) and pitcher Jose Fernandez (2011) are bright spots and are having superb beginnings to their pro career.
The strength of the Marlins minor league system lies at the single A level between Jupiter (high class A) and Greensboro (low class A). The likes of outfielder Brent Keys and pitchers Adam Conley and Jose Fernandez lead the way in Greensboro while outfielders Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and catcher Jacob Realmuto are in Jupiter.
The farm system might not be the best but it is certainly not the worst in the major leagues like it was close to becoming last year. This year the Marlins are poised to continue swimming in the prep pool for future talent. The college pool isn't as strong this year and the Marlins have rarely gone in that direction and been successful in the last decade in the 1st round.
Here are five prep prospects who are on the Marlins radar as the MLB Draft approaches: