Marlins focus on pitching in draft

Marlins focus on pitching in draft

JUPITER, Fla. -- Picking to the strength of any draft has long been the Marlins' philosophy.

Tuesday was no different.

While some analysts claimed the 2006 First-Year Player Draft was strong in pitching, the Marlins saw things differently.

Aside from taking right-hander Brett Sinkbeil from Missouri State University with the 19th overall pick in the first round, the Marlins leaned more heavily toward position players.

In all, 18 rounds were completed in the first day of the two-day draft. Counting a sandwich pick and a second third-round choice, the Marlins had 20 picks. Thirteen of those were used on position players, including three left-handed hitters in the first three rounds.

"We thought this was a good for bats," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins vice president of player development and scouting. "Surprisingly we found that there were several left-handed bats. There were some others we liked too that went fairly early.

"We've always professed we'd let this draft dictate how we'd go. As this draft unfolded, a lot of people said this was a pitching draft, but we didn't think so. We felt there were more bats in it. As for the high school pitching, we didn't have as much on our board as we normally do. So we went that route, and it worked out."

With their sandwich pick, 36th overall, the Marlins selected third baseman Chris Coghlan from the University of Mississippi. Additionally, left-handed bats were added in second-round choice Thomas Hickman from Pepperell H.S. in Rome, Ga., and outfielder Scott Cousins from the University of San Francisco.

Growing up in the Tampa Bay area, Coghlan played high school ball against Tyler Jennings, the son of Marlins vice president of player personnel Dan Jennings. At the time, Dan Jennings was working for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

One of the top pure hitters in the draft, Coghlan led the Cape Code League in batting average .326 in 2005.

Mississippi is preparing to face the University of Miami in an NCAA Super Regional showdown. The Marlins scouted the 20-year-old in the recent Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Coghlan takes pride in being respected as a contact hitter.

"I take pride in not striking out and drawing more walks," he said. "That helps me hit for a high average."

What's sacrificed is power. Coghlan's lack of home-run punch makes him a candidate to eventually be switched to second base.

"That's something we may consider, but not something we have to do," Fleming said. "It may enhance him, the ability to play second base, also."

Coghlan believes he can increase his power numbers.

"I'm still 20 years old and still getting bigger and stronger," Coghlan said. "I believe I can play third base at the big league level."

Here is a review of the Marlins' Tuesday's picks.

Round 1 -- Brett Sinkbeil, RHP, Missouri State University: A strained oblique caused the right-hander to miss about three weeks, but he ended the season strong by tossing eight strong innings in a win over Bradley. Throws from 90-94 mph, and mixes in a slider. Will work on fine-tuning his changeup.

Sandwich pick -- Chris Coghlan, 3B, University of Mississippi: The 20-year-old, who grew up in the Tampa Bay area, is a left-handed-hitting third baseman who may project as a second baseman in the professional level. Has batted .349 (87-for-249) with four home runs and 48 RBIs in 63 games for the Rebels.

Round 2 -- Thomas Hickman, OF/P, Pepperell H.S. (Ga.): A 6-foot-1, 175-pounder bats lefty and throws lefty. Adds another left-handed bat to the system. Along with being a center fielder, he also can pitch.

Round 3a -- Torre Langley, C, Alexander H.S. (Ga.): Energetic and athletic, Langley isn't very big at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, but he has good strength. He has shown potential at the plate and defensively. The club feels he is a complete package.

Round 3b -- Scott Cousins, OF/P, University of San Francisco: A two-way player, Cousins throws and bats left-handed. But with his offensive potential, he looked upon as being an outfielder who can run. Has the speed and range to play center field. Fierce competitive, and a left-handed hitter. Draws comparisons to Mark Kotsay.

Round 4 -- Hector Correa, RHP, Lorenzo Coballes Gandia H.S. (P.R.): Lean at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Correa turned 18 a few months ago. Because he is young and his body is still maturing, the club will be careful how he is brought along. Throws hard. Needs to work on secondary pitches.

Round 5 -- David Hatcher, C, University of North Carolina-Wilmington: An athletic catcher and a switch-hitter. Stands 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. Good defensively.

Round 6 -- Justin Jacobs, SS, Chino H.S. (Calif.): While a shortstop in high school, Jacobs projects to be versatile enough to play a number of positions. He's even caught some in the past, and the team will move him around a little bit.

Round 7 -- Donald Czyz, RHP, University of Kansas: A hard-throwing right-hander who was used primarily as a closer, where he had 17 saves. Projects as a pure reliever.

Round 8 -- Daniel Garcia, SS, Nogales H.S. (Calif.): Impressed the club with his overall athletic ability. Not real big, but has a nice frame to grow.

Round 9 -- John Raynor, OF, University of North Carolina-Wilmington: A senior with good size, Raynor can play all three outfield spots.

Round 10 -- Graham Taylor, LHP, Miami University (Ohio): Used mostly as a starter in college, the left-hander will get a look as both a starter and reliever.

Round 11 -- Osvaldo Martinez, SS, Porterville College (Calif.): A native of Puerto Rico, the 18-year-old is 5-foot-10, 170 pounds. Athletic and gives middle infield depth.

Round 12 -- Bradley Stone, RHP, Quincy University (Ill.): A hard thrower who projects to be used in the bullpen.

Round 13 -- Andrew Saylor, 2B Kent State University: Impressed with his offensive skills.

Round 14 -- Jay Buente, RHP, Purdue University: Drafted as a senior, he has a nice track record and likely will be used out of the bullpen.

Round 15 -- Guillermo Martinez, SS, University of South Alabama: Raised in Miami, Martinez played shortstop in college and is expected to go to Jamestown, where he will play short.

Round 16 -- Jacob Blackwood, 3B, Maplewoods C.C. (Mo.): Showed nice power at the junior college level, belting 19 home runs. Can play second base and third.

Round 17 -- David Mense, OF, University of Missouri: Despite having an off-season, Mense had enjoyed success in the past, where he played on USA National squads. The Marlins feel Mense was the victim of an off-season, and that he will bounce back.

Round 18 -- Ross Liersemann, RHP, Akron University: Good size at 6-4, 205 pounds, the 22-year-old will be looked at as a starter.

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