With the parting of ways with Kim Ng occurring earlier this week, another domino fell on Friday afternoon. The Marlins separated from the services of amateur scouting director DJ Svihlik, Fish On First can confirm. The news was originally reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
An original part of the Jeter/Sherman takeover, Svihlik joined the Marlins organization in November 2017 and ascended to director of amateur scouting in June 2018. Before coming to Miami, Svihlik was a longtime contributor to the New York Yankees as an area scout and national talent evaluator of the New York farm system.
The 2019 MLB Draft was Svihlik’s first time in charge of the process. He selected the collegiate bat of JJ Bleday with the fourth overall pick over the likes of Riley Greene, CJ Abrams, Josh Jung, and Corbin Carroll in what has proven to be a star-studded first round. Bleday was traded to the Oakland Athletics earlier this year for A.J. Puk.
That 2019 Marlins draft class also included Peyton Burdick, Nasim Nuñez, Evan Edwards and Kameron Misner. Burdick has since earned his way to a big league call-up, but his production has been shrouded by a very high strikeout rate and inconsistencies in finding the barrel. Nuñez is a special defensive talent and a threat on the bases, but his lack of hard contact could limit his ceiling.
In 2020, Svihlik played to the Marlins’ greatest developmental strength and used the draft to shore up pitching. In the shortened draft, the Marlins selected six arms: Max Meyer, Dax Fulton, Kyle Nicolas, Zach McCambley, Jake Eder, and Kyle Hurt. Meyer, Fulton, and McCambley remain in the Marlins organization. All have struggled through some modicum of lengthy injuries early in their careers related to their throwing elbows, with both Meyer and Fulton currently rehabbing from surgeries. That said, the above-average ceilings of all three of those arms could still positively impact the Marlins’ organization as soon as next season.
Svihlik returned to the war room in 2021 and continued to use his best player available strategy to select Kahlil Watson, a presumed top-10 pick who fell to the Marlins at 16 overall. The lefty-hitting prep pick out of Georgia got off to a hot start to his pro career with Miami, but struggled through dealing with his first taste of failure. In 659 MiLB ABs, he has a .744 OPS. Other notable Svihlik selections from 2021: Joe Mack, Cody Morissette, and Jordan McCants. The most successful minor league career amongst these selections so far has been that of LHP Patrick Monteverde, who earned 2023 Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors.
In 2022, DJ prioritized a polished bat above all by selecting Jacob Berry, a .360/.450/.655 collegiate hitter but a player with defensive limitations. In 144 MiLB games, Berry is slashing .236/.300/.382. He is currently participating in the Arizona Fall League. Berry was selected over Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, and Jace Jung. Additional Svihlik & Co. selections in 2022 included Jacob Miller, Karson Milbrandt, Marcus Johnson, and Torin Montgomery.
Since the 2022 draft, the Marlins have done well dealing from prospect capital drafted by Svihlik to acquire big league talent. They traded Watson for Josh Bell and Jake Eder for Jake Burger, both of whom were integral to the Marlins’ postseason run this year. Previously, they traded Johnson as part of a deal that landed them JT Chargois and Xavier Edwards. It should also be pointed out that amateur scouting under Svihlik found several diamonds in the rough in undrafted free agency such as Paul McIntosh and Jake Thompson.
However, Miami has not reaped many positive contributions from the most lucrative selections made by Svihlik, especially on the offensive side of the baseball. With the exception of his most recent first-rounder, Noble Meyer, none of Svihlik’s draftees are currently ranked as Top 100 MLB prospects.
According to the Jackson report, Ng was keen on retaining Svihlik, which could have added to disagreements between her and principal owner Bruce Sherman.
Whoever is ultimately hired by Sherman to lead Marlins baseball operations will have the flexibility to build an entirely new organizational identity. Amateur scouting and international operations will both have different looks following the departures of Svihlik and Adrian Lorenzo, respectively. In a time of uncertainty, one thing is clear: the Marlins have strengths that should be built on and they have opportunities which must be addressed in order to form a more sustainable foundation.