SECAUCUS, N.J. - The Marlins haven't had a consistent starter on the hot corner since they traded away Miguel Cabrera five years ago. They may finally have their third baseman of the future now.
Thursday night, the worst hitting team in baseball with the worst record in game took one of the best third baseman at the collegiate level when they drafted University of North Carolina All-American Colin Moran.
The left-handed hitting Moran, a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to the top player in college game, drove in a nation's best 85 runs this season, hitting .351 with 13 homers for the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.
"He brings so much on base potential. He doesn't strike out, walks a ton. He's a line drive, gap hitter who is not going to be disturbed by the power numbers in that ball park," MLB analyst Peter Gammons said of the pick. "And he will be very fast to the big leagues. I kept hearing they were in love with him from his workout and his interview. Extremely talented hitter."
Thursday's draft marked only the sixth time since 1992 the Marlins had one of the first six picks in the draft.
The other times didn't pan out so great. The home runs: first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (2000) and Josh Beckett (1999) who were the first and second overall picks in the 2000 and 1999 drafts. The misses: shortstop Josh Booty, who went fifth overall in 1994 and outfielder Jaime Jones, who went sixth in 1995. The jury is still out on catcher Kyle Skipworth (2008), who went sixth.
The Astros, picking first for the second year in a row, opened the draft Thursday by taking Houston native and Stanford All-American pitcher Mark Appel. The polished 6-4 right-hander, who turned down nearly $4 million to go back to school after being taken eighth overall by the Pirates last year, could be in the big leagues as early July according to MLB analyst Harold Martinez.
With the second pick, the Cubs went after college baseball's home run king Kris Bryant from the University of San Diego, a power hitting third baseman the Marlins knew wouldn't slip far enough to get to them.
Right-handed pitchers Jonathan Gray (Rockies) and Kohl Stewart (Twins) went with the next two picks. The Indians then took high school outfielder Clint Frazier of Loganville, Ga., opening the door for the Marlins to take North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran.
How much will it cost to ink Moran before the signing deadline is July 12? The alloted draft slot is $3.5165 million.
Last year, former Hialeah Mater Academy shortstop Albert Almora was the Cubs' sixth overall pick. Slotted at $3.25 million, the Cubs went over slot and he signed with them for $3.9 million -- an extra $650,000.
The Marlins have done the opposite when it comes to signing players. Last year, Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Heaney had been asking for the recommended slot bonus of $2.8 million for the ninth overall pick, but ended up taking the Marlins' final offer of $2.6 million with about 40 minutes to go before the signing deadline.
The history of the sixth overall pick in the MLB draft has been hit and miss over the years.
But here are a few of the recent ones that panned out pretty well: left-handers Ross Detwiler (2007) and Ricky Romero (2005), right-hander Zack Grienke (2002), shortstop Derek Jeter (1992), former Marlin Gary Sheffield and home run king Barry Bonds (1985).