The MLB Draft is fast approaching and the Miami Marlins are in the best position to revamp their farm system and put them in a Tampa Bay Ray-like trajectory. They have three of the first 43 choices, and five of the top 106, which carries the Draft through the supplemental third round. They can and should stock up on local arms in both the high school and collegiate ranks.
Their top pick should be Touki Toussaint of Coral Springs Christian High School, who is ranked eighth in the Top 200 prospect list. Scouts gave his 91-93 mph fastball a 70 in a 20-80 grade scale. He has shown the ability to reach 97 with his fastball which could be more inevitable as he grows into adulthood. He also possesses a curveball and changeup which combined with his powerful fastball makes him a future Major League starter at best and reliever at worst.
His catcher in high school was Benito Santiago, the son of the original Marlins catcher who shares the same namesake. If that doesn’t serve as a sign that the Marlins should draft him, I don’t know what a sign is anymore.
For the next Alex Fernandez, the Marlins don’t have to look further than Archbishop McCarthy High School pitcher Brian Gonzalez, who capped off an amazing 2014 postseason with back-to-back no-hitters.
“I see a lot of me in Brian Gonzalez,” said Alex Fernandez who coached him and taught him how to throw a curveball the way he did in the big leagues. “He should be a very high draft pick. Somewhere in the 3rd to 5th round.”
Why the next Alex Fernandez? Because he was coached by the 10-year MLB veteran himself. After capping off a decade long career with the Chicago White Sox and the Florida Marlins, Fernandez became an assistant baseball coach and the director of baseball operations in Archbishop McCarthy. Since he started in 2008, the Mavericks won the state championship four times in four-peat fashion.
Detroit Tigers rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos, University of Miami catcher Garrett Kennedy and Gonzalez were a big part of Archbishop McCarthy’s success. Both Gonzalez and Kennedy are draft eligible but will be working together with the Miami Hurricanes should the two not sign.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they had all three starting pitchers throw over 100 innings in 16 starts with a sub 3.00 ERA. Only Bryan Radziewski totaled over 100 strikeouts. Their staff ace, Chris Diaz, is ranked 138 in the top 200 prospect list and scouts believe his can reach the Majors as a reliever. Andrew Suarez, ranked 86th out of 200, also profiles as a Major League starter.
Despite the tough season at the plate, Kennedy was a big part of the Hurricanes pitching success behind it. Fernandez said Kennedy reminds him of his old battery mate and fellow 1997 World Series Champion Greg Zaun; “Good defense and pitchers like to throw to him.”
Another local catcher that the Marlins should look at is FIU’s Aramis Garcia (78th out of 200). The All-American catcher hit .368 this season with 14 doubles, eight home runs and 37 runs batted in for the Panthers this season. He tops the C-USA in batting average (.368), slugging percentage (.626), and is second in on-base percentage (.442) and home runs (8). He is literally the best draft eligible player in that conference and his work with the pitching staff has helped staff ace Mike Franco (1.06 ERA) who also shares the same traits as Alex Fernandez.
FIU third baseman Josh Anderson comes into the MLB Draft with power potential and experience with using wooden bats, something he learned while playing at Yavapai College in Arizona.
"It's good to play 66 games, get used to the wood bat because I want to get into the Major Leagues eventually,” Anderson said.
Anderson finished this season hitting .300 and leading the Panthers in RBI with 43. He also led the team in calf size.
The Marlins have the opportunity to have a very historical draft class by selecting all of the top prospects from the State of Miami. It works in college football, it also works in professional baseball.