MIAMI — The Marlins didn’t have to look far to find a potential cornerstone of the organization. They found a standout prep player from the west coast of Florida.
With the 13th overall pick on Monday in the MLB Draft, the Marlins selected outfielder Connor Scott from Plant High School in Tampa. The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the most athletic players in the Draft.
“In our evaluation we took the most impactful player available at No. 13,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We, obviously, take everything into consideration, and Connor Scott checked all the boxes from our standpoint.”
The Marlins had three picks on Monday. In the second round, they went with shortstop Osiris Johnson with the 53rd pick. The 17-year-old is the second cousin of former Phillies All-Star Jimmy Rollins. Johnson attended Encinal (Calif.) High School. Closing out their night, the Marlins went with Brookwood (Ga.) High School catcher Will Banfield with their Competitive Balance Round B, 69th overall.
As an organization, the Marlins have made targeting athletic players who can play up the middle a priority.
“When you’ve got a premium athlete like Scott and Johnson, and then Banfield behind the plate, over time you find that premium athletes make adjustments much quicker as they go through their professional career,” Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo said.
A left-handed hitter, Scott batted .526 in 20 games with five home runs, four doubles, two triples, 20 runs scored and 19 RBIs as a senior. He drew 17 walks and struck out just four times.
The Marlins envision Scott as an everyday center fielder, and he has drawn comparisons to Bradley Zimmer of the Indians. Hill added with his speed and power potential, Scott also draws similarities to current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson.
“In Connor, we were so excited because you’re talking about an above-average runner,” Hill said. “We think he is going to be an above-average bat. He’s going to hit for power. In spacious Marlins Park, you’re going to have to be able to cover ground.”
Scott, who is a University of Florida commit, has playing for a national power program as a fallback option if he is not able to sign with the Marlins. But Hill said the organization plans on meeting with Scott’s representative in the near future to begin the negotiating process.
“We’re hoping he wants to be a Miami Marlin, and he can start his professional career as soon as possible,” Hill said.
The recommended bonus pool money for the 13th pick is $4,038,200.
In his prep career, Scott appeared in 72 games with a .424 batting average, 60 runs scored and 58 RBIs.
“We talk about tools that show up every day and speed is one of those tools,” Hill said.
Scott is from the same high school as Kyle Tucker, the highly regarded outfield prospect of the Astros. Plant High School also produced Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
The Marlins have been tracking Scott since he was a freshman, and a teammate of Tucker. Scott also recently worked out for Miami at Marlins Park, which helped solidify the selection.
The way the Draft unfolded, Scott was on the board, as well as a couple of University of Florida pitchers — Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar — as well as right-hander Logan Gilbert from Stetson University.
First baseman Triston Casas from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., was also available. But the Marlins liked the complete skillset that Scott provided, and went in that direction.
“As you line up the board and you identify players you think can impact your organization, we couldn’t be happier to have Connor available with the 13th selection,” Hill said. “He’s the complete package. In our eyes, he’s 6-4, athletic and has the speed-power package we think will impact the game on both sides of the ball.”
Keeping with their theme of becoming more athletic, the Marlins went with Johnson in the second round. Listed at 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, Johnson hit .535 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 26 games as a senior. Johnson is a Cal State Fullerton commit.
Banfield, 18, is an advanced defensive catcher who is a University of Vanderbilt commit. Banfield has an above-average throwing arm, and is listed at 6-1, 200 pounds.
“Osiris Johnson is someone we have had our eye on since last summer,” Denbo said. “He has improved substantially over the spring, and we feel like he was one of the best athletes available in the Draft this year.”
The Marlins believe Johnson has the potential to hit for some power, and that he has the tools to be an everyday shortstop.
Banfield had a standout senior season, batting .409 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 33 RBIs.
“Our scouts have been on him for a while,” Denbo said. “Outstanding defensive ability. That’s something we really value. His throwing arm was among the best in the Draft year for catchers behind the plate. We feel like we’ve got a guy who is a potential team leader.”
The slot value for No. 53 is $1,318,500, and the bonus money for the 69th pick is $894,600. To sign their top 10 round choices, the Marlins have $8,658,400 to spend.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.