Miami Marlins 2018 MLB Draft Grades
BEST PURE HITTER: A 20-year-old out of Meridian (Miss.) JC, OF Davis Bradshaw (11) has hit at every level he's played. After slashing .422/.523/.718 with more walks (29) than strikeouts (23) in his one season at Meridian, Bradshaw hit .376/.453/.484 with seven extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He was then promoted to short-season Batavia, where he hit .324/.368/.352 in a 19-game sample. Bradshaw still needs to fill out his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame in order to hit for more power—he didn't hit a home run in his 46-game pro debut—but the lefthanded hitter has plus-plus speed and showcases an advanced approach at the plate.
BEST POWER: Although he is listed at just 6 feet and 181 pounds and was one of the youngest players in last year's draft class, SS Osiris Johnson (2) has quick hands and plus bat speed, leading scouts to project plus power in the future. A lefthanded hitter, Johnson hit just three home runs in his 50-game pro debut in 2018, but that included an aggressive promotion to the low Class A South Atlantic League, where he played in 23 games (and hit two home runs) as an 18-year-old.
FASTEST RUNNER: Bradshaw has plus-plus speed and stole 20 bases in 25 attempts during his time in the Gulf Coast and New York-Penn leagues in 2018. OF Milton Smith (22) also has plus-plus speed, and he recorded seven stolen bases in 10 attempts during his 31-game sample of the Gulf Coast League. Both Bradshaw and Smith use their excellent speed in the outfield, where they're able to get quick jumps and feature above-average range.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Considered by many evaluators to be the best defensive catcher in last year's draft, C Will Banfield (2s) has a plus arm, with some scouts even labeling it a future plus-plus arm behind the plate. Last year, major league scouting directors unanimously voted Banfield as being the best defensive catcher in the 2018 high school class and also picked the former Vanderbilt commit as having the best arm among prep catchers. At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Banfield is lauded for his flexibility behind the plate, which helps with both his receiving and blocking abilities. Banfield threw out nearly 39 percent of potential basestealers in his pro debut, which included time in the GCL and South Atlantic League.
BEST ATHLETE: The No. 13 overall pick, OF Connor Scott (1) was considered one of the most athletic players in the 2018 draft class. At 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Scott is at least a plus runner, with some considering him a current plus-plus runner, and he also possess a plus arm. In high school, Scott spent time on the mound, where his fastball regularly sat in the low 90s and he had feel for both a curveball and changeup from the lefthand side. His pro future is in the outfield, however, where he is currently best suited for centerfield but could move to right field as he continues to fill out his frame.
BEST FASTBALL: After drafting position players with their first five picks, the Marlins selected RHP Chris Vallimont (5) with their sixth pick and signed him for $300,000. A 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander out of Division II Mercyhurst (Pa.), Vallimont's fastball touches 98 mph and regularly sits in the mid-90s. As a senior at Mercyhurst, Vallimont struck out 122 hitters and walked just 17 in 80.1 innings, all while recording a miniscule 0.44 ERA. His pro debut didn't go as well, posting a 0-2, 6.21 record in 12 appearances (11 starts) in the New York-Penn League, and he still needs to improve his command. Vallimont walked 23 batters in 29 innings with Batavia, but his fastball velocity remains one of his strongest assets.
BEST SECONDARY PITCH: A 22-year-old reliever out of Texas A&M, RHP Cason Sherrod (7) made 15 relief appearances in the Gulf Coast League in 2018, striking out 23 hitters in 19 innings. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Sherrod's main out pitch is his slider, with features sharp bite and good tilt from a low three-quarter arm slot. Sherrod's slider works off his 93-97 mph fastball, giving him a pair of above-average offerings that should continue to play up as an effective 1-2 punch out of the bullpen.
BEST PRO DEBUT: A three-year starter out of Kentucky, OF Tristan Pompey (3) made it all the way to the high Class A Florida State League in his pro debut after quick stops in both the GCL and South Atlantic League. In a combined 48 games at low Class A Greensboro and high Class A Jupiter, Pompey hit .302/.413/.407 with 12 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Pompey is probably best suited for a corner outfield spot in the future, but his plus raw power and potentially above-average hit tool should continue to carry him up the minor league ranks relatively quickly.
MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: The second cousin of three-time All-Star and 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, Johnson has plenty of baseball bloodlines, as his father Marcel played in the minors with the Mets and Braves organizations. Hailing from Encinal High in Alameda, Calif., Johnson worked with Rollins throughout his high school career on improving his defense and specifically his arm action at shortstop. Although some scouts though Johnson would be best suited for centerfield in the future, it appears Johnson and the Marlins are committed to him staying in the infield, just like his second cousin.
CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: After selecting high school position players with their first three picks, Pompey was the first college player drafted by the Marlins in 2018. The younger brother of Blue Jays outfield prospect Dalton Pompey, the switch-hitting Tristan led all SEC hitters with a .410 batting average in conference games in 2017, and he has the high-end college pedigree typical of players who are able to track through the minors quickly. He reached high Class A Jupiter in 2018, and it would be no surprise to see Pompey in the upper levels of the Marlins' system by the end of his first full season.
BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: Listed at just 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, LHP Zach Wolf (18) isn't physically imposing on the mound, but he proved to have excellent stuff in his brief pro debut. Making 19 combined relief appearances in the New York-Penn and South Atlantic leagues in 2018, Wolf went 2-1, 2.08 with 31 strikeouts and nine walks in 21.2 innings. The University of Seattle product works with a low-90s fastball that regularly hits 94 mph and a potential swing-and-miss curveball with solid bite and 11-to-5 break. Opponents hit just .165 off of Wolf, who also utilizes a third-pitch changeup and stays aggressive by challenging hitters in the zone.
THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: The Marlins signed their first 15 draft picks and 29 of their first 30, with the only exception being RHP Zach Greene (15), who instead chose to return to South Alabama for his senior season. After transferring from St. John's River (Fla.) JC prior to the 2018 season, Greene went 2-4, 3.79 in 23 appearances (two starts) for the Jaguars, striking out 80 hitters in 57 innings. The Marlins also took a late chance on prep pitcher LHP Garrett McDaniels (30), who ranked No. 203 on the 2018 BA 500 and will honor his commitment to Coastal Carolina. McDaniels is a projectable, 6-foot-3, 160-pounder with a fastball up to 93 mph and excellent feel for a mid-70s curveball.