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

Stanton belts No. 20 in Game No. 71

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton reached the 20 home run plateau in the Marlins’ 71st game.

With two outs in the first inning, Stanton blistered a drive to right-center off Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrieta.

The 20 before the All-Star Break are a personal high for Stanton, who had 19 in 2012.

In club history, a Marlin has reached 20 or more homers prior to the Break.

HRs prior to All-Star Break

Mike Lowell 28 ’03
Gary Sheffield 25 ’96
Hanley Ramirez 23 ’08
Dan Uggla 23 ’08
Cliff Floyd 21 ’01
Miguel Cabrera 20 ’04
Mike Lowell 20 ’04
Giancarlo Stanton 20 ’14

Joe Frisaro

Marlins open to trading for starter

MIAMI — Plan A was promoting from within for rotation help. If necessary, Plan B will be exploring trades.

The Marlins are open to dealing for a starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The club just isn’t at the point right now where they are seriously narrowing down possibilities on the market.

On Monday, the organization pulled the trigger on promoting two of their best in-house candidates, prospects Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani.

Heaney, the touted top lefty prospect in the game, will make his MLB debut on Thursday against the Mets. DeSclafani draws Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs on Tuesday.

Heaney and DeSclafani opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville, and gained a little more seasoning at Triple-A New Orleans. When Jose Fernandez was injured in May, DeSclafani received the call to fill in immediate. He made two starts before being sent to Triple-A.

The Marlins are in a “win now” mode because of where they’re positioned in the standings.

Because no one has run away with the National League East, Miami is prepared to make a deal or two to stay in the hunt until the end.

Within a few more days, the bullpen is expected to add Kevin Gregg, who signed a Minor League deal and is getting some innings at New Orleans.

In order to be a serious contender, Miami will be counting on its starting pitching to do its part. It’s a tall task, especially after ace Jose Fernandez was lost to Tommy John surgery in mid-May.

Already there is speculation linking Miami to Jason Hammel and Samardzija, who both happen to be in Miami this week taking on Miami.

News on Tuesday is the Cubs are exploring signing Samardzija to a long-term deal. Whether the right-hander stays in Chicago or is on the market doesn’t seriously impact the Marlins.

If Chicago did make Samardzija available, they’d likely seek Heaney in return, and Miami isn’t open to moving its top prospect.

With so many teams in striking distance of at least the second Wild Card, there are a limited number of potential sellers.

One match for Miami could be Tampa Bay, and not necessarily for David Price.

Again, the Marlins are waiting and seeing how Heaney and DeSclafani change the landscape in Miami. No deals are expected until July. But a potential wish list candidate could be Alex Cobb.

If Miami is prepared to move big league ready talent, they’d want a starter with controllable years.

The Marlins don’t have any desire to move Heaney, DeSclafani or Justin Nicolino, the talented lefty right now in Jacksonville.

From a position player standpoint, one of their trade chips could be Derek Dietrich, who came up with the Rays.

Dietrich is in Triple-A right now as Rafael Furcal has joined the club after opening the season on the disabled list.

Dietrich is considered the team’s second baseman of the future. And if Furcal were to go down again, he is a candidate to be called up.

As constructed, the Marlins don’t have much speed, and second is a position they could consider adding some in the future. Justin Twine, for instance, is the club’s second rounder in the First-Year Player Draft. Twine, for now a shortstop, may have a future at second. Brian Schales, a shortstop taken in the fourth round, is a shortstop who also could profile at second.

Avery Romero, ranked by MLB.com as Miami’s No. 11 overall prospect, is batting .321 at low Class A Greensboro.

Those are internal options to play second in the future.

Miami certainly isn’t eager to move Dietrich, a left-handed bat with power. But if the team is to make a big move for an impact starter, they’d weigh all their options.

Joe Frisaro

Garrett among picks close to officially signing

MIAMI — The Marlins on Monday officially announced the signing of Tyler Kolek, the No. 2 overall pick in the June 5 First-Year Player Draft.

Although not officially announced, the club has either agreed or is on the verge of reaching terms with pretty much all of their top 10 round selections.

Included in the list eighth rounder, Stone Garrett, the outfielder from Texas. Garrett is a tremendous athlete with power potential. The Marlins feel they may have a real find with the 227th overall pick. He’s expected to sign for the slot value of $162,400.

Garrett is opting to join the Marlins rather than attend college at Rice.

Other top 10 round choices to agree to terms are fourth rounder, Brian Schales (shortstop), fifth rounder, Casey Soltis (outfielder), sixth rounder Chris Sadberry (left-hander), nine rounder Benjamin Wetzler (lefty) and 10th rounder, Dillon Peters (lefty).

Peters is having Tommy John surgery, and is expected to be ready to pitch sometime in 2015.

Seventh rounder, Anfernee Seymour (shortstop) has been out of town, and is expected to reach agreement when he returns.

Joe Frisaro

No restrictions for Heaney

MIAMI — If the Marlins remain in the race in September, Andrew Heaney will not be held back due to an innings limit.

The way the organization has spaced out his starts in the Minor Leagues, Heaney can reach his target innings range without being shut down.

“There is always a range when you’re talking about innings for these guys,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “He can pitch every fifth day and fit within that range.”

The basic range is around 170.

Heaney is at 76 2/3 innings in 13 Minor League games, with 12 starts.

Anthony DeSclafani is in a similar boat.

In 2013, the Marlins received plenty of attention with Jose Fernandez, who was shut down on Sept. 11 at 172 2/3 innings.

At Triple-A New Orleans, Heaney was skipped a start on June 12 for the purpose of keeping him within a 170 range. He was lined up to throw again on Thursday for the Zephyrs, but with a need for starting pitching help, the decision was made to bring Heaney up earlier than projected.

Heaney will make his MLB debut on Thursday against the Mets. He will be going from June 7 to June 19 between starts. He threw a bullpen at Marlins Park on Monday.

“I think we all felt with Heaney it was a matter of not if, but when,” Hill said. “We really just worked through what his pitching schedule would be for the rest of the year, and make sure when he did come there would be no restrictions.”

With the All-Star Break in July, the Marlins can work things out to push Heaney back a few days before he makes his first start of the second half.

“That’s the one thing I’ve said, when he came here there were no restrictions,” Hill said.

Joe Frisaro

Heaney, DeSclafani, Marisnick, Bour join Marlins

MIAMI — The future is starting now for the Marlins.

In the thick of the National League East race, Miami has finally pulled the trigger on their top prospect, promoting lefty Andrew Heaney from Triple-A New Orleans.

Miami had been planning on giving the 23-year-old one more Triple-A start, which would have been Thursday. Instead, Heaney has been called up to help a struggling rotation.

The Marlins also have called up right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who was scratched from his Triple-A starter on Sunday.

Outfielder Jake Marisnick and first baseman Justin Bour also were brought up.

On a busy day, Miami also placed outfielder Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list, retro to June 14, with a lower back strain. Infielder Donovan Solano was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Pitchers Randy Wolf and Kevin Slowey were designated for assignment.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was transferred to the 15-day disabled list after he had been on the seven-day concussion list since June 1.

Heaney, the ninth overall pick in 2012, is ranked as the 25th overall pick by MLB.com, as well as the No. 1 lefty prospect.

The former Oklahoma State standout was 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA in four starts for New Orleans. He opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville, where he was 4-2 with a 2.35 ERA.

To help curb his total innings, Heaney was scratched from his most recent start, which was to be last Thursday.

Miami headed into Monday night one game behind the Braves in the NL East. The Marlins have been struggling to find quality starting pitching. Heaney and DeSclafani are two highly successful prospects.

Joe Frisaro

Dyson recalled, Eovaldi on paternity leave

MIAMI — A worn out Marlins’ bullpen is getting some immediate relief.

On Sunday morning, the Marlins recalled right-hander Sam Dyson from Triple-A New Orleans. To make roster move, Nathan Eovaldi was placed on paternity leave.

Eovaldi started on Friday night against the Pirates. In the days leading up to the start, the team had been weighing fallback options in case his wife went into labor.

To stay in line to make his start on Wednesday against the Cubs, Eovaldi was scheduled to throw a bullpen session at Marlins Park on Sunday morning. Then he is heading to his home in Texas to be with his wife. She is scheduled to have labor induced later in the day.

Dyson, 26, pitched in five games for Miami last year. He is on the 40-man roster and offers versatility because he can pitch multiple innings, and even spot start.

In 20 1/3 innings with New Orleans, the right-hander has a 2.66 ERA, with 15 strikeouts and seven walks. He last threw on June 9.

Joe Frisaro

Furcal off disabled list, makes Marlins debut

MIAMI –- The Marlins on Friday night are playing their 65th game of the season. For Rafael Furcal, it’s like Opening Day.

Furcal has been reinstated from the 60-day disabled list and made his 2014 debut for Miami.

To make space on the 40-man roster for Furcal, Miami designated right-hander Angel Sanchez, who was at Double-A Jacksonville. Sanchez was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay.

The Marlins obtained Sanchez last July as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade with the Dodgers.

The 37-year-old, who signed as a free agent for $3.5 million, also is returning to big league action for the first time since he was with the Cardinals 2012. He missed all of last year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Furcal’s comeback season got off on rough footing. In Spring Training he strained his left hamstring, and opened the season on the disabled list. During a rehab assignment game in late April with Double-A Jacksonville, he received another setback when he strained his right groin.

Furcal played in six rehab assignment games from May 30-June 10 after recovering from his groin injury.

In all, Furcal batted .297 (11-for-37) with two doubles and four stolen bases.

Joe Frisaro

Heaney, for now, remaining in New Orleans

MIAMI — Don’t read too much into this, but Andrew Heaney will not be starting for Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday night at El Paso.

No worries, the Marlins’ top prospect is not hurt. And no, Heaney is not on the verge of being called up to Miami.

The organization is simply skipping Heaney from starting Thursday to hold back his innings. Nothing more.

The only way Heaney will be able to pitch into September is by slowing down his innings from time to time along the way.

Heaney already has logged 76 2/3 innings, with 53 2/3 at Double-A Jacksonville and 23 more at New Orleans.

Ranked as the top lefty prospect in the game by MLB.com, Heaney is living up to the billing. He’s combined for a 7-2 record with a 2.47 ERA.

Heaney has fanned 79 and walked 15.

Based on performance, Heaney is making a strong case to be called up. But there is a logistical side to the sport.

Before the 23-year-old gets the big league nod, the Marlins will have to make a corresponding 40-man roster move.

Miami’s front office has some tough decisions to make. On Friday, they are expected to reinstate second baseman Rafael Furcal from the 60-day disabled list.

Before Furcal joins the team, someone currently on the 40-man must be moved.

Also, before opting for Heaney, the Marlins will have to identify which starter he replaces. Someone may have to move to the bullpen.

All Heaney can do in the meantime is his part, and pitch at a high level. Everything else is out of his control.

– Joe Frisaro

Kolek, Marlins moving closer to deal

MIAMI — The Marlins are in advanced negotiations with Tyler Kolek, the second overall pick in last week’s First-Year Player Daft.

According to multiple sources, Miami is getting close to finalizing a contract that would start the 18-year-old right-hander’s professional career. Barring any late holdups, the deal could be official within a couple of days.

Along with Kolek, the Marlins also are making progress with all of their first 10 rounds of picks. There is strong optimism that deals will be reached soon with catcher Blake Anderson (36th overall), shortstop Justin Twine (43rd), second baseman Brian Anderson (76th), left-hander Michael Mader (105) and shortstop Brian Schales (107).

According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Brian Anderson has agreed to a $600,000 deal.

Before deals are official, each player must complete his physical. That process with some of the picks is already underway.

Kolek is the marquee prize for Miami in the Draft, which got underway on June 5.

Kolek, the power pitcher from Shepherd, Texas, caught the attention of the Marlins and the entire league with his overpowering fastball. His 102 mph fastball is the highest ever recorded by a high school pitcher.

The slot value for the No. 2 overall pick is $6.8 million. But it is unclear if Kolek will receive exactly that amount.

Joe Frisaro

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