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Marlins aren't a home-grown sensation


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DENVER - With a payroll that is annually at the bottom of the league and a roster filled with names that are familiar only to relatives and close friends, the Florida Marlins are often lauded for their scouting and player development.

And while it is scouting that provides the basis for the Marlins' ability to be competitive, it is professional scouting that does the heavy lifting in Florida, not the amateur scouting side.

The Marlins had only one home-grown player in its Opening Day starting lineup: left-fielder Jeremy Hermida, the Marlins' first-round draft choice in 2002.

And they enter this weekend with only six home-grown players on their 25-man roster, and one of them, backup first baseman Ross Gload (a 13th-round pick in 1997), is really a vagabond who actually played in the big leagues with the Cubs, Rockies, White Sox and Royals before making his Marlins debut this year.

The five who have never known an organization other than the Marlins are right-handed pitchers Chris Volstad (first round, 2005), Josh Johnson (fourth round, 2002) and Logan Kensing (second round, 2003), plus outfielders Hermida and Brett Carroll (10th round, 2004).

There are various ways to evaluate the productivity of an organization's farm system, and the release of the All-Star ballots this week provides some insight. The 240 players listed for All-Star consideration represent the projected regular lineup that each team submitted late in spring training.

Six players originally signed by the Marlins are on the list, leaving Florida 18th among the 30 major league teams. In addition to Hermida on its own roster, the Marlins originally signed first baseman Derrek Lee of the Cubs, Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego and Miguel Cabrera of Detroit, shortstop Edgar Renteria and outfielder Randy Winn of San Francisco and Mets second baseman Luis Castillo.

By contrast, Atlanta, Arizona, Toronto, Cleveland and Oakland each have 12 originals on the All-Star ballots, and Colorado, Boston and Seattle had 11 each. The Cubs, with three, and Baltimore, with four, were the least productive organizations.

Colorado led the majors with all eight of the Rockies players on the ballot having been originally signed by the organization. Milwaukee and Arizona were tied for second with six. The Marlins and Nationals were at the bottom with one apiece (third baseman Ryan Zimmerman with Washington).

The June draft produced 186 of the 240 All-Star nominees, including 69 players who were first-round draft choices, and 29 who were selected in the second round. Toronto catcher Rod Barajas is the only draft eligible player on the ballot who was undrafted. He was an undrafted signee out of Cerritos (Ca.) College in 1996.

There are 53 foreign signings, including catcher Ivan Rodriguez of Houston, first baseman Carlos Delgado of the Mets and catcher Bengie Molina of San Francisco who were signed out of Puerto Rico before the island was included in the draft. The Dominican Republic has the biggest contingent of All-Star candidates among foreign signees with 23. There are 14 players from Venezuela, five from Japan, three from Cuba, two from Columbia, and one each from Korea, Mexico and Panama.

While the Marlins have not had a lot of success in the draft, they have been successful uncovering bargains on the open market, and finding quality out of the quantity that they have received in exchange for their veterans they have dealt when their salaries got too steep for Florida's ownership to swallow.

Consider the quality of return Marlins' scouts have discovered in trades:

Outfielder Cameron Maybin, right-handed pitcher Burke Badenhop and lefty Andrew Miller (currently on the disabled list) were among six players that Florida received prior to the 2008 season from Detroit for left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who has been a headache for the Tigers, and third baseman Miguel Cabrera, whose defense was so horrid he was forced to first base.

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco and left-hander Renyel Pinto, along with right-hander Sergio Mitre, came from the Cubs on Dec. 7, 2005 for outfielder Juan Pierre.

Closer Matt Lindstrom was acquired along with hard-throwing Henry Owens from the Mets on Nov. 26, 2006 for Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick.

Third baseman Emiliano Bonaficio was acquired last November from Washington for outfielder Josh Willingham, and left-handed pitcher Scott Olsen.

Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez came this past offseason from Kansas City for first baseman Mike Jacobs, whose defense was a liability for a team that can't use the DH.

Right-handed pitcher Hayden Penn was acquired from Baltimore on April 1 for infielder Robert Andino.

Catcher John Baker came from Oakland two years ago for Jason Stokes, and backup catcher Ronny Paulino was a March 2008 addition from San Francisco for Hector Correa.

The irony is Gload originally was dealt out of the Marlins farm system with Dave Noyce to the Cubs for a then fading first baseman/outfielder Henry Rodriguez, a deal that shows how differently current general manager, Larry Beinfest is from predecessor Dave Dombrowski.

And then there are the real bargains.

The Marlins purchased outfielder Cody Ross from Cincinnati on May 26, 2006, and third baseman/first baseman Wes Helms in April last year from Philadelphia, which picked up the bulk of last year's salary.

Infielder/outfielder Alfredo Amezaga, Gload, right-hander pitcher Kiko Calero and first baseman Jorge Cantu all joined the organization on minor-league contracts before making spring impressions that opened the big-league door.

Here's who originally signed the All-Star candidates (still with the franchise):

12 players -- Atlanta (five), Arizona (six), Toronto (four), Cleveland (four) and Oakland (three).

11 players -- Colorado (eight), Boston (five) and Seattle (five).

10 players -- Chicago White Sox (three).

9 players -- New York Mets (three), Washington (one), St. Louis (five) and New York Yankees (four).

8 players -- Philadelphia (four), Los Angeles Dodgers (three), Tampa Bay (four), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (four).

6 players -- Florida (one), Houston (two), Pittsburgh (three), Minnesota (three), Texas (two) and Milwaukee (six).

5 players -- Cincinnati (three), San Diego (two), San Francisco (four), Detroit (two) and Kansas City (two).

4 players -- Baltimore (three).

3 players -- Chicago Cubs (three).

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