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Florida Marlins Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: LHP Todd Moser (14) led the short-season New York-Penn League with a 1.53 ERA after sharing the NCAA Division I lead with 15 wins. RHP Terry Byron (2) signed late but was unhittable for Utica and in the Class A Midwest League playoffs.

Best Athlete: OF Charlie Frazier (6), whose younger brother Todd was the star player for the Toms River, N.J., team that won the 1998 Little League World Series, is a raw tooled player with a high ceiling. He didn’t hit a home run in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League but could develop plus power down the road.

Best Hitter: SS Josh Wilson (3) is a fundamentally sound hitter with good bat speed. He still needs to add strength to his wiry frame.

Best Power: Dominic Woody (4) may not show his power right away if he stays at catcher, but the righthanded hitter is strong with very good bat speed. He hit .276-4-22 for Utica. 3B Jake Laidlaw (7) projects to have plus power as he matures.

Fastest Runner: The Marlins didn’t draft any burners. Wilson gets down to first base in about 4.2 seconds from the right side.

Best Defensive Player: Wilson has all the tools to become a starting big league shortstop, especially easy actions and balance.

Best Fastball: For $7 million, RHP Josh Beckett better have the best fastball. It’s been clocked as high as 99 mph.

Most Intriguing Background: Wilson’s father is the head coach at Duquesne. Byron, a native of the Virgin Islands, attended Indian River (Fla.) JC in Florida to enhance his draft status.

Closest to the Majors: By virtue of his contract, Beckett has to be a full-time big league pitcher by 2003 at the latest. Based on his rookie performance, Byron may beat him there.

The One That Got Away: The Marlins signed every pick through 30 rounds except 1B/RHP Jarrod Schmidt (23), who never indicated he could be swayed from a scholarship to Clemson though the Marlins took a low-round shot at him anyway. He was the key player on his national championship high school team and later was named MVP of the Connie Mack World Series. He could be a high draft in 2002.

Best Non-Draft Sign: SS Miguel Cabrera hasn’t played a game in the United States yet, but the Marlins wagered $1.8 million, a record for a Venezuelan signee, that he should be a future star.

Summary: The Marlins took a big gamble that Beckett will develop quickly enough to fulfill his big league contract. The rest of the draft list was solid, and lefties Moser and Nate Robertson (5) could surprise. Robertson went 8-1, 2.45 between Utica and Class A Kane County.

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