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MLB Prospect Review: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Miami Marlins

Tyler Kolek ended up being the top draft pick to sign in 2014 after Brady Aiken didn't agree to terms. What could the big righty be for the Marlins, and when could we see him in Miami?

Rich Schultz

The second overall pick in this year's draft, Tyler Kolek feels like he's been a bit overshadowed in this draft class. The coverage of the draft subsisted primarily of the failure by the Astros to sign the top overall pick, Brady Aiken, and since that happened we have heard a lot more about a player that has already debuted (Brandon Finnegan) and one who was a potential call up as well (Carlos Rodon). He may be a bit of a forgotten man right now, but that doesn't mean his stock has fallen at all.

Kolek came into the 2014 season viewed as a potential #1 overall pick, which would have made him the first high school righty to go there overall. California left hander Brady Aiken jumped ahead of Kolek by the time final draft rankings were being published across the internet, and the Astros made Aiken their pick rather than Kolek. The Marlins were more than happy to take Kolek with the #2 overall pick, and were able to sign him to a $6 million bonus. Kolek went to the Gulf Coast League affiliate shortly after signing, where he threw 22 innings over nine appearances (eight starts), allowed 22 hits, struck out 18, but walked 13.

The scouting reports on Kolek start with his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s and touched as high as 102 at times before the draft, an easy elite offering. He also features both a slider and a curveball, which have the potential to be above-average offerings, and a changeup which remains a work in progress to this point. All four pitches could be at least average down the line, giving him the potential to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher if it all clicks.

As you might expect from a high school pitcher, Kolek is considered very raw and unpolished. He has shown issues with his control so far (13% walk rate in the small sample this year). His offspeed pitches, while potentially above-average offerings, are currently below average and need more work. There have been reports that he needs to work on his delivery, and specifically whether he can repeat it consistently. For a pitcher of his size (6'5", 250 lbs), this could just be something that comes with more reps over time. None of this is particularly unexpected, and realistically will be worked on over the next couple of seasons.

The best case scenario for Kolek is that he turns into a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, capable of providing elite fantasy production in four categories. Despite the Marlins' penchant for promoting starting pitching prospects quickly, Kolek will likely need more time than previous top picks Andrew Heaney and Jose Fernandez, both of whom were considered more polished than Kolek when drafted. The worst case (other than not making it at all) would seem to be that he develops into a high-leverage reliever on the strength of his fastball and at least one of his breaking pitches. While not ideal given his draft pedigree and bonus, that could still be a useful player for both the Marlins and fantasy owners.

I would estimate that his most likely timeframe for the majors puts him on a path to Miami during the 2018 season. Holding onto him for dynasty formats is likely to be a long play, which is what kept him out of my top 50 midseason prospect rankings. He will likely fall within the top 100 during the offseason on the potential to be a true #1 fantasy starting pitcher. Just remember that despite the high draft pick, there is a lot that can happen between now and Kolek pitching in a major league uniform.