MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Marlins’ top draft pick is an 18-year-old Texan accustomed to getting up at 6 a.m. to feed livestock and fix fences on his family’s 10,000-acre cattle ranch. He thinks that’s one reason he can throw 100 mph.
The Marlins took right-hander Tyler Kolek with the second overall pick Thursday. He was the hardest-throwing pitcher in the draft.
“I think growing up on a ranch had a little bit to do with it,” Kolek said. “I take a lot of pride in it. I think it makes you a lot tougher than the average high school kid.”
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Kolek pitched for Shepherd High School, where his fastball consistently registered in the upper 90s and exceeded 100 mph.
“We’ve seen the fastball up to 102 mph,” Marlins vice president of scouting Stan Meek said. “You kind of see some Roger Clemens in his delivery.”
Kolek has also drawn comparisons to fellow Texans Nolan Ryan, Josh Beckett and Kerry Wood. He played defensive end and tight end for his high school football team.
“How do you pass up a guy throwing 100?” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s a big, old country-strong right-hander.”
The Marlins chose Kolek over two other players considered candidates for the No. 2 pick, North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon and Alex Jackson, a high school catcher-outfielder from Escondido, California.
Meek said they even liked Kolek better than California high school left-hander Brady Aiken, taken with the first pick by the Houston Astros.
“In the end, this was kind of our guy,” Meek said. “With Houston picking first and him being in that state, you obviously feel kind of nervous.”
Kolek said he didn’t know which team was going to draft him, although Marlins scouts did show interest.
“I took them around the ranch and I showed them some deer, and that’s the last I heard,” he said.
Said Meek: “We helped the economy in Shepherd, Texas.”
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