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Marlins select 55 players overall

Marlins select 55 players overall

MIAMI -- Stockpiling pitching talent was a high priority for the Marlins in the two-day 2005 First-Year Player's Draft that concluded Wednesday.

Next step is signing their highly-rated choices and implementing them into the Marlins' system.

"We're confident we're going to be able to sign these guys," general manager Larry Beinfest said.

The Marlins used all three of their first-round choices on pitchers: Chris Volstad (16th overall) from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School; Aaron Thompson (No. 22) from Second Baptist (Texas) High School, and Jacob Marceaux (No. 29) from McNeese State.

On the second day of the draft, the Marlins selected 32 more players, giving them 55 total. That list includes 27 pitchers, seven catchers, 11 infielders and 10 outfielders.

"I feel really good about the draft," Marlins director of scouting Stan Meek said. "We got some high-ceiling high school arms, and some solid college players who have a chance to move quickly through the system. From our standpoint, we feel really good about this year's draft."

Volstad, a hard-throwing right-hander, attended the Marlins' game with the Mariners on Wednesday night at Dolphins Stadium. He sat in the field-seats with owner Jeffrey Loria.

Because the Marlins had three first-round picks and eight choices through the third round, the issue of "signability" was raised well before the draft. The organization discussed the budget with Loria and team president David Samson.

"We obviously went into signability, and got as much information on the draftees," Beinfest said. "We're confident that we are going to be able to strike deals."

Beinfest said Loria is "extremely supportive" of the draft and how it can replenish the organization's farm system.

"He understands the importance of pitching," Beinfest said of Loria. "And the amount of pitching and the quality of pitching we got."

The Marlins' philosophy is to draft the best player available. Since this draft was regarded as having strong pitching, especially at the high school level, Florida tapped into the young arms.

"We got the players we wanted," Beinfest said. "We didn't take players because we thought we could sign them. We didn't bypass somebody. These were the players we wanted. We had worked the budget and worked with David and Jeffrey on the budget, and we're confident if this guy is here at that number, we're going to be able to sign him and get it done."

Volstad has made it clear he will join the Marlins, going as far as telling the coaching staff at the University of Miami, which was courting his services.

Of the three first-rounders, Marceaux is the likely choice to advance to the Major Leagues the quickest because he already has college experience. With his 95 mph fastball, and willingness to work hitters inside, he is regarded as either a starter or reliever candidate.

While the Marlins focused on pitching, they also addressed the need for catching by taking Brett Hayes in the second round (79th pick) out of the University of Nevada-Reno. Sandwich pick Bryan Harvey, an outfielder from Clemson, is projected as a right fielder. The Marlins feel Harvey can develop into a 25 home run a year player.

Priorities heading into Tuesday were to add pitching, catching and some middle infielders.

Thompson, their second first-rounder, made it clear to the Marlins that he intends on playing professionally. The left-hander's other option is attending Texas A&M. And Marceaux, a hard-throwing right-hander, made it clear he will either start or relieve if it means reaching the Majors quicker.

As a general philosophy, the Marlins high school draft picks who sign will start off in the Gulf Coast League in Jupiter. The college choices will head to short-season Jamestown of the New York-Penn League.

Some Marlins top picks:

16th overall: Chris Volstad, RHP, Palm Beach Gardens H.S.: Hard-throwing 6-foot-7 prep star possesses a 94 mph fastball and shows maturity to move up the ranks quickly.

22. Aaron Thompson, LHP, Second Baptist H.S.: Growing up in Houston, about 20 minutes away from where Josh Beckett was raised in Spring, Texas, throws between 88-92 mph.

29. Jacob Marceaux, RHP, McNeese State: Power pitcher with a 95 mph. A starter who can convert to relief. Could progress quickly through the system.

34. Ryan Tucker, RHP, Temple City H.S.: Another young high school arm. The right-hander from California has a clean delivery.

44. Sean West, LHP, Captain Shreve H.S.: This Louisiana prep star stands 6-foot-8, providing much needed lefty depth to the lower Minor League levels.

64. Bryan Harvey, OF, Clemson University: Will be groomed as a right fielder. Envisioned to be power hitter capable of hitting 25 homers.

79. Brett Hayes, C, University of Nevada-Reno: There is a shortage of catching depth. Hayes goes a long way to filling the void.

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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