If not Kolek, Marlins coveted Aiken

MIAMI — With the No. 2 overall pick in the June 5 First-Year Player Draft, the Marlins selected the No. 1 player on their board.

All along, the Marlins coveted Tyler Kolek, the power-house right-hander with the 100-mph fastball. If Miami had the first overall pick, they would have selected the hard-throwing Texan.

Until a few hours before they picked, the Marlins weren’t completely positive they’d be able to land Kolek. Nolan Ryan, who now works in the Astros’ system, pushed for Kolek. But Houston was locked in on their primary focus — lefty Brady Aiken, the prep star from San Diego.

What if the Astros took Kolek, who lives roughly 90 minutes away from Minute Maid Park. There was some sentiment to take the local star, but it didn’t pan out.

If the Astros had gone with Kolek, the Marlins were prepared to take Aiken. There was some sentiment to take Carlos Rodon, who went third overall to the White Sox.

Rodon, the lefty from North Carolina State, is the closest to being big league ready. The Marlins watched more than a dozen of his starts this year.

A couple of factors played into the equation. Signability was one. Rodon is advised by Scott Boras, and the asking price would have been an issue. Aiken and Kolek are both advised by Casey Close’s Excel Sports Management firm.

Aiken has already signed with the Astros from $6.5 million and the Marlins locked up Kolek at $6 million.

Regarding Rodon, if the Marlins didn’t have doubts about his upside, and felt he was the hands-down better pick, they would have gone with the N.C. State southpaw and dealt with trying to sign him.

The conviction in Rodon wasn’t there. The Marlins also had good looks at Aiken, and liked him as a fallback if Kolek was off the board.

The position player the Marlins liked was Alex Jackson, the prep standout from San Diego.

Jackson’s bat impressed, but there were questions about position. Is he a catcher? Is he a left fielder or third basemen? There was some skepticism.

Bottom line is the cards fell exactly as the Marlins’ hoped, and Kolek already has arrived in Jupiter, Fla., getting ready to compete in the Gulf Coast League.

Joe Frisaro

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