The Miami Marlins went with the big arm over the hometown kid with the second overall selection Thursday in the draft.
The Marlins chose Tyler Kolek, a massive 6-foot-5, 260-pound right-hander from Shepherd (Texas) High School. There was much speculation they would select North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon, a Cuban-American who grew up in Miami and was taken third by the Chicago White Sox.
Another in a long line of hard throwers from Texas, Kolek’s fastball tops out at 102 mph and sits at 96-98. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup, though he rarely needed to use those pitches in high school as he was 4-1 with a 0.45 ERA in eight starts this spring, allowing 14 hits in 46 innings while striking 100 and walking just six.
“He fits exactly what we like, which is power pitching,” Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said. “In my 26 years in scouting, I’ve only seen two other guys light the gun at 100 mph as an amateur. He is a big man with a tremendous delivery and beautiful arm action, just an outstanding athlete.”
Kolek, 17, grew up on a ranch on the outskirts of Shepherd, a town with a population of about 2,000. He feels that has uniquely prepared him for professional baseball.
“When you live on a ranch, you’re up at 6 a.m. every day feeding the animals or fixing fences or doing some kind of chores,” Kolek said. “I think it makes you mature faster. I don’t think I’m the typical 17-year-old because of the way I’ve grown up.”
Catcher Blake Anderson was selected in the Competitive Balance Round A from West Lauderdale High School in Collinsville, Miss., with the 36th overall pick. Baseball America had him ranked as the 216th-best player available, but his stock rose in recent weeks when he showed outstanding defensive skills while leading West Lauderdale to a state championship. Anderson has committed to Southern Mississippi.
Shortstop Justin Twine of Falls City (Texas) High School was taken in the second round. His skills are still quite raw, though he was one of the fastest players available in the draft. Twine, who committed to play baseball at TCU, was better known in high school for being one of the best running quarterback in Texas as he accounted for 41 touchdowns last fall.