For the third time in the past four years, the Marlins used their first-round draft pick on a position player, first baseman/outfielder Christian Yelich of Westlake (Calif.) High School. Jim Fleming, head of player development and scouting for the Marlins, said the organization would groom Yelich as an outfielder in order to utilize his speed.
Yelich first gained widespread scouting attention in the summer of 2008 when he put on an eye-opening batting practice display with wood bats at a Major League Scouting Bureau showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. Bryce Harper overshadowed Yelich that evening, driving several balls off the batter's eye or into the parking lot, but Yelich held his own and has produced other highlights since then, such as the long, opposite-field homer he hit in 2009 off Tyler Skaggs, an Angels supplemental first-rounder last year. Tall (6-foot-3), angular and projectable and possessing a sweet lefthanded swing, Yelich is far more athletic than the usual lumbering first-base prospect, with above-average speed. He consistently runs a 6.75 second 60-yard dash in showcase events, and shows both range and a nifty glove around the bag. That kind of athleticism usually signals a position change, but Yelich has a below-average throwing arm that limits him to first. A Miami recruit, Yelich does not project to have the profile power organizations prefer in a first baseman, but he should develop into an above-average hitter with fringe-average power, along the lines of a James Loney or Casey Kotchman.
Baseball America had Yelich listed as the top-ranked first baseman available in the draft, but had him pegged as a "second-round talent." ESPN.com's Keith Law had Yelich ranked 26th overall on his list of the top 100 prospects.
Here's additional material, including scouting reports and video, provided by the folks at Baseball Beginnings:
Scouting Report - http://baseballbeginnings.com/2010/04/16/christian-yelich-report/
The Marlins also used their first-round pick to draft position players in 2007 (Matt Dominguez, 3b) and 2008 (Kyle Skipworth, C). Their second-round pick in 2007, outfielder Mike Stanton, will make his major-league debut for the Marlins on Tuesday in Philadelphia.