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Marlins Draft Report

By Mike Berardino
June 4, 2002

FORT LAUDERDALE--One name kept popping into scouts' minds as they watched Jeremy Hermida this season: Paul O'Neill.

After taking Hermida, a high school outfielder from Marietta, Ga., with the 11th overall pick in Tuesday's draft, the Marlins hope the comparison holds true. The famously intense O'Neill retired after last season with five World Series rings, including four with the Yankees.

"Physically he will remind you of Paul O'Neill," Marlins scouting director Jim Fleming said. "Big, strong guy with long legs and a beautiful swing. This is one of those swings that doesn't come along very often."

Hermida, a Clemson signee, was rated as the fourth-best position player in the draft and the best pure hitter on the prep level. At 6-feet-4 and 200 pounds, Hermida has an average arm for right field and good speed for his size. He projects to add power.

Hampered by a sprained ankle early in his senior year, Hermida, 18, came on strong at the end. Some projections had him going as high as No. 2, but the Marlins were ecstatic Hermida slipped to them.

"He could have very easily gone before," said Fleming, supervising his first Marlins draft and fifth overall. "He was in a lot of people's mixes. We were hoping he would be there. Everybody in the room was on board with this one."

Some scouts called Hermida the best high school hitter since Eric Chavez. Others compared his body type to that of a young Andy Van Slyke.

Fleming, who saw Hermida play three times, called him a natural-looking hitter who shows tremendous rhythm at the plate. Hermida, who was his high school's No. 1 pitcher and center fielder, has a 90 mph fastball and gained 20 pounds since the end of his junior season.

Hermida comes from the same suburban Atlanta youth baseball program that produced Pirates pitcher Kris Benson and Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson. The son of Clemson coach Jack Leggett was one of Hermida's youth-league teammates, but Hermida is said to be interested in starting his professional career.

Word spread among scouting directors Monday night that the Marlins had reached a predraft agreement with Hermida, but Fleming denied that.

"Signing your first-round pick is never easy," he said. "I don't know what to expect. We've had no preliminary talks with anyone. We didn't have any apprehension on this pick that there was going to be any difficulty."

With their second-round pick, 52nd overall, the Marlins took Miami Southridge shortstop Robert Andino. Scouts compare him to the Indians' Ricky Gutierrez, another Miami product.

Sources said the Marlins had targeted Texas high school outfielder Brent Clevlen for that pick, but he went three slots earlier to the Tigers and former Marlins executive Dave Dombrowski.

Third-rounder Trevor Hutchinson, a righthander from the University of California, is the younger brother of Cowboys quarterback and former Cardinals pitching prospect Chad Hutchinson. Trevor, a senior with little negotiating leverage, is a Scott Boras client.

The younger Hutchinson throws 86-90 mph with a hard slider and good durability. He was a 20th-round pick of the Mets last June but didn't sign.

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