Marlins' Top Prospects: #1 Christian Yelich, OF
One of the best hitters available in the 2010 draft was outfielder Christian Yelich from Westlake Village, California. The Marlins drafted Yelich with the 23rd overall pick and signed him for an above-slot $1.7 million bonus. As the only teenager ranking among the top 10 for the South Atlantic League in total bases (223), he quickly proved himself by earning the organization's Minor League Player of the Year award.
Yelich started the 2011 season in Greensboro, where he helped the Grasshoppers to the South Atlantic League title and ranked among league leaders in a number of categories. An impressively consistent season is justified by his 42 multi-hit games in 122 outings, going hitless only 32 times. He finished third in the SAL in batting (.312) while ranking among league leaders in steals (32), on-base percentage (.388), doubles (32), and OPS (.871).
His quick hands and advanced approach at the plate allow him to adequately cover the zone. Scouts say Yelich's pure swing has potential to hit for above-average power and should threaten 25 annual homers once he matures. Yelich's above-average speed allowed him to safely steal 32 bases on 37 attempts. A first baseman by trade, Yelich is still adjusting to his role in the outfield.
Opening up the 2012 season, Yelich is expected to start at high Class-A Jupiter surrounded by some other familiar faces he won a championship with the year before in Greensboro. He needs more time to iron out his poor throwing mechanics, but is still a good bet to advance quickly. Baseball America projects him as a left fielder with above-average range and a smooth swing that should eventually land him in the middle of Miami's order.