"I'm ready to play," declared Marshall, indicating that signability won't be an issue for the left-hander. Playing in the Majors, he said, "has been my dream since I was three years old."
• Draft Central
Marshall might already have gained professional experience were it not for a combination of circumstances following last year's Draft. When the Houston Astros were unable to sign high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall choice, club management was accused of reducing its bonus offer to Aiken to create more money to sign Marshall, Houston's 21st-round selection whose talent commanded a deal worthy of a second- or third-rounder.
Marshall, whom the Astros drafted out of Parkview (Ga.) High School, was set to attend Louisiana State University but opted to remain eligible for this year's Draft by enrolling at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., which has produced Major League All-Stars such as Jose Bautista and Russell Martin. Giants farmhands Darren Ford and Adam Duvall, who have had productive stints with San Francisco, also attended Chipola.
• Giants know there's value outside of 1st round
Jeff Johnson, who has coached at Chipola for 19 years, believes that Marshall is as skilled as any of his former standouts who reached the Majors. Johnson's fastball velocity has reached 95 mph. But an even better delivery might be his changeup, which Johnson said was "as good as any I've seen in my coaching career." It not only approaches the catcher at a slower pace, but also tails away from right-handers and into left-handers.
• Giants stock up on arms
"To me, he's a steal in the fourth round," said Johnson, who felt convinced that Marshall would have been drafted during the top two rounds were it not for a fractured thumb on his throwing hand that limited him to nine starts. It was a freak injury, resulting from Marshall simply playing catch when a throw deflected off his glove and struck his bare hand.
Johnson made the most of his season when he was healthy, finishing 5-2 with a 2.37 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 13 walks in 30 1/3 innings. He proved he was fit when he threw at an open workout on May 17 at Birmingham, Ala. -- a session attended by Giants scouting director John Barr, according to Marshall.
"I feel very blessed to be drafted by the Giants," Marshall said.