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Draft Preview: Marlins target top talent

Draft Preview: Marlins target top talent

MIAMI -- Years may change, but the Marlins philosophy remains the same: If possible, lean towards taking pitching.

It's long been the team's objective in the First-Year Player Draft. Whether it pans out that way in 2010 depends on what's available, because the overriding factor remains pretty basic when it is the Marlins' time to pick.

Rather than reach on a pitcher, or any position for that matter, the organization foremost will select the best player available. In recent years, the Marlins have shown a mixture of both. Third baseman Matt Dominguez was taken in the first round in 2007, and catcher Kyle Skipworth in the opening round in 2008. Then last year, the organization went with pitching, selecting left-hander Chad James.

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The search for another Josh Beckett -- the No. 1 overall pick by the Marlins in 1999 -- remains a primary focus. Considering where they are picking this season, however, there is more uncertainty than years past.

After the Marlins finished with 87 wins and in second place in the National League East in 2009, they find themselves with the 23rd overall pick in the first round. Being at the bottom of the round creates more uncertainty as to which players may be available when the First-Year Player Draft begins on Monday.

Draft Central

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from Monday-Wednesday on MLB.com/Live. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, beginning with the Draft preview show at 6 p.m. ET.

MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo will join Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis on Monday's broadcast.

Coverage for rounds 2-50 will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed on Tuesday, beginning at noon, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed on Wednesday, starting at noon. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.

Here's a glance at what the Marlins have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
The hope will be for an upper-tier pitcher in the first round, but the reality may be none is worth taking with the 23rd overall choice. So foremost, the attention will be to find the player capable of making the biggest impact, regardless of position.

The scoop
"This Draft is a little gray, especially at the top. Usually, when you pick 23rd, you should be able to eliminate 10 to 12 guys. That's really not the case. We've eliminated four or five guys we just don't think we can get. The rest of it we've had to go scout. It's made our job a little bit tougher, and spread us out a little bit thinner." -- Vice president of player development and scouting, Jim Fleming.

First-round buzz
Should they go the high school route, right-hander Aaron Sanchez from southern California is a possibility. Peter Tago is another high school right-hander, also from southern California, but a couple of college outfielders are a possibility, according to Baseball America. The publication has listed Brett Eibner, a right-handed pitcher/center fielder at the University of Arkansas, as a possibility. Another choice may be University of Michigan outfielder Ryan LaMarre.

Shopping list
A shift had occurred in recent years, as the club's top prospects have gone from pitchers like Chris Volstad to position players, like outfielder Mike Stanton. Once again, there is a demand to stockpile pitching in the organization, as it has run thin. Middle infielders and left-handed bats are also in demand.

Trend watch
In the past three Drafts the Marlins have gone with high school players in round one. They've also taken a prep standout first in four of the past five years. Considering the fact that the organization feels this Draft has more high school depth than college, don't be surprised if they go with a prep star once again.

Recent Draft History

Marlins' recent top draft picks
Year Player Position Current team
2009 Chad James LHP Class-A Greensboro
2008 Kyle Skipworth C Class-A Greensboro
2007 Matt Dominguez 3B Double-A Jacksonville
2006 Brett Sinkbeil RHP Triple-A New Orleans
2005 Chris Volstad RHP Florida Marlins

Rising fast
The most ballyhooed prospect the Marlins have had since Miguel Cabrera broke in as a 20-year-old in 2003 is Stanton. The 20-year-old outfielder -- a second-round pick in 2007 -- has dominated at Double-A Jacksonville. He has tremendous power and potential to be a home run champ in the big leagues. He is on the verge of getting his first big league opportunity.

Cinderella story
Right-handed reliever Tim Wood was picked in round 44 out of Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., in 2002. The 27-year-old made his big league debut in 2009, and he currently is in the Marlins' bullpen, although he has also spent some time this year at Triple-A New Orleans.

In The Show
Chris Coghlan, the Marlins compensatory first-round pick in 2006, was the NL Rookie of the Year in '09. Picked out of the University of Mississippi, Coghlan transitioned from an infielder to the everyday left fielder. Volstad, a first-round choice in '05, has been a part of the rotation since he was a rookie in '08.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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