Published On: Tue, Jun 22nd, 2010

Scouting 2010 First Round Selection Christian Yelich

By: Matt Bluestein

Remember the name Christian Yelich. You may very well be watching him in a Marlins uniform in a few years. The Marlins were very ecstatic to see Christian Yelich’s name still on the draft board at number 23. Interestingly, the Marlins have had a tendency to draft tall, high school pitchers from California. In addition, the Marlins draft philosophy has always been to pick the best player available in the first round.  In my opinion, I believe they followed through on that philosophy. Christian Yelich is a left handed hitting first baseman/ outfielder out of Westlake High School in Westlake village. Interestingly, advanced scouts have compared Yelich’s swing to former big leaguer Mark Grace. Even though his main position in High School was first base, the Marlins strongly believe that they can convert him into a very good defensive outfielder. Yelich is known as a terrific athlete. At 6’4 190 pounds, he has tremendous speed, which definitely factored into the Marlins decision to draft him. Many advanced scouts also believe that he will gain more power as he physically gets stronger.

Not only have the Florida Marlins been very high on this super talented young player, but so has Baseball America and Keith Law from ESPN.com. The fact is Baseball America had Yelich ranked at no.52, while Keith Law ranked Yelich at no 26. According to Yelich, he was genuinely surprised that the Marlins decided to pick him. “I knew they had interest, but not this kind of interest. It’s definitely a welcome surprise.” It is no secret that the Marlins Organization has done an outstanding job drafting and developing players over the years. Of course like any Major League organization, they have had their fair share of first round disappointments such as Brett Sinkbell in 06, Jeff Allison in 03, and Jeremy Hermida in 02. However, many of the team’s draft picks have gone on to have a tremendous amount of success in the Major Leagues such as Josh Johnson, Josh Beckett, and Adrian Gonzalez.

The Marlins have come to the realization that they need more left handed hitters in their farm system. As a result, Yelich is the 2nd lefty hitting position player taken since catcher Kyle Skipworth in 08. In High School, Yelich batted an impressive .451 with 14 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 25 runs batted in for Westlake High this season. The only legitimate concern with Christian Yelich is his funky throwing motion. Therefore, the Marlins have promised to correct his throwing motion by making it more fundamentally sound. “He has a little bit of an odd throwing motion that we’ll try and smooth out. It’s not anything that will prevent him from playing the outfield,” said Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Jim Fleming. “We really love the bat,” there are a lot of tools there, still some growth to go. He’s got a nice frame. He’s going to fill out and be a big man. There are a ton of things to like about this kid. He’s our kind of guy.”

The Marlins have an excellent track record, so therefore you must trust their judgment and their ability to evaluate prospects. Yelich has been on the Marlins radar for quite some time. Hopefully, his development will go according to plan and he will meet expectations. High School draft picks are considered as high risk high reward players. Therefore, an organization is always taking a calculated risk and gamble by drafting and signing a player out of High School.  As an organization, the Marlins have put an emphasis on drafting High School talent. Since the current Front Office took control in 2002, the Marlins have selected seven High School players, including three pitchers in the first round.

This will be another draft pick in which you can go back and evaluate in a few years. The question is will this draft pick be categorized as a success or a bust in the future? Only time will tell. The bottom-line is the Marlins will give it their best shot. The Marlins ability to draft the right players and develop them into quality major leaguers will continue to determine how much success they have in the future.

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