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Marlins See Polish On Garrett

MIAMI—One week before the 2016 Draft, Marlins scouting director Stan Meek agreed his farm system—greatly depleted of talent at the upper levels—could use a college first-rounder who was advanced and could move quickly to the majors. The Marlins got that advanced player on Thursday. They found him, however, in high school.
Lefthanded pitcher Braxton Garrett, an 18-year-old who recently graduated from Florence (Ala.) High, was the seventh overall pick in the draft. As a senior, Garrett went 6-2, 0.56, striking out 131 batters and walking just 13 in 65  innings while earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors for the state of Alabama. “He’s a strike-thrower and one of the more polished high school players we’ve ever taken,” Meek said of Garrett, a player he and other Marlins scouts have been tracking for the past 12 months. “His delivery is already in place. Maybe there are a few tweaks needed, but nothing major.” Garrett’s selection marks the third straight year the Marlins have selected a high school player first. The past two picks have a long way to go before they can be called successful. Righthander Tyler Kolek, the second overall pick in 2014, is out for the year after elbow surgery. Fiirst baseman Josh Naylor, the 12th overall pick in 2015, recently injured a teammate while engaging in a knife “prank.” But those situations didn’t cause the Marlins to run for a college player who might be more mature or more MLB-ready. Instead, they took Garrett, who is physically mature at 6-3 and 190 pounds and could eventually fill out at up to 210 pounds, Meek said. Garrett’s fastball is not overpowering at 90-94 mph, but Meek said “that doesn’t bother me at all” and added he likes that Garrett doesn’t try to overthrow. Meek said there’s not much projection required because the stuff is already there. That includes an above-average changeup and one of the five best curveballs Meek said he has seen, complete with a tight spin. Garrett, who was 13 when his father taught him the curve, is considered a “safe” pick who could progress quickly through the minors and ultimately rise to become a No. 2 starter in the majors. Asked if he considers himself “advanced,” Garrett had an interesting response. “I’m not a flame-thrower like some guys,” he said. “But I take pride in throwing my three pitches where I want to. “If that’s considered advanced, then I guess so.” Garrett’s easy delivery repeats well, and the Marlins would love if he were to ultimately emerge as the top left-hander in the draft. But before that happens, Miami must sign him away from his college choice, Vanderbilt. Meek did not seem concerned about the upcoming negotiations, saying the Marlins had “adequate dollars” in their bonus allotment to get the signing done. Garrett, who also played quarterback until he got injured as a sophomore, avoided the subject. “I’m not sure right now,” said Garrett, who has a 3.7 grade-point average and is interested in studying exercise science. “I’m living in the moment right now. We’ll talk about (signing) when the time comes.” FISH BITES

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• Meeks compared Garrett to lefthanders Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who have combined for seven All-Star selections, a World Series MVP award and a Cy Young Award. • Garrett helped Team USA win gold at the 18U World Cup in Japan last fall. He also pitched eight scoreless innings in a 2-0 Florence win this past March at the National High School Invitational in Cary, N.C.

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