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Marlins Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: OF Will Smith (6) batted .368 and tied for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League lead with 21 doubles. Finesse LHP Chris Key (18) had a 1.75 ERA while reaching Class A.

Best Athlete: OF Anthony Brewer (4) has raw physical skills, including speed, arm strength and surprising power.

Best Hitter: 1B Adrian Gonzalez (1) was the top high school hitter in the draft. That and his willingness to accept a $3 million bonus endeared him to the Marlins as the No. 1 overall pick. After going 4-for-28 to start his pro career, Gonzalez hit .320 the rest of the summer.

Best Raw Power: 1B Jason Stokes (2) was the top high school power hitter in the draft, and he would have gone early in the first round had teams not been concentrating on signability. OF Jim Kavourias (5), who led NCAA Division II with 23 homers last spring, also has a lot of pop. His season was abbreviated by back problems. Smith set the Arizona high school record for career homers, but he’s not in the class of Stokes or Kavourias.

Fastest Runner: Brewer is exceptionally quick. He gets from the right side of the plate to first base in 4.08 seconds, the equivalent of a 6.4-second 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: The Marlins didn’t sign any outstanding glove men at a premium position. The best defender is Gonzalez, who’s slick at first base. As a result, Stokes is moving to left field.

Best Fastball: In his first season back at UCLA after Tommy John surgery, LHP Rob Henkel (3) peaked at 94-95 mph before tiring later in the spring. His knuckle-curve may have been the best breaking pitch in the draft. RHP Phillip Akens (13), a 6-foot-5 high school kid, saw his velocity jump from 88-89 mph to an occasional 94 after signing.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Jared Brite (41) is punting and playing baseball at Kansas State. Gonzalez’ older brother Edgar signed as a 30th-round pick of the Rangers.

Closest To The Majors: Henkel, though he held out all summer before signing for $650,000. He’ll probably make his pro debut at Class A Kane County in April.

Best Late-Round Pick: Akens. RHP Steve Sawyer (11) threw 93 mph when used in relief.

The One Who Got Away: LHP Daniel Moore (23), who’s projectable because he’s 6-foot-5 and already throws 90 mph. He would have gone in the top three or four rounds had a North Carolina scholarship offer not been more tempting.

Assessment: No team had a better draft. The Gonzalez signing made it seem the Marlins were most concerned about costs, but they spent to add the equivalent of two more first-round picks in Stokes and Henkel. They continued to make astute picks in later rounds, and most of their players enjoyed successful debuts.

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