Welcome to the Marlins prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.
Bleday goes deep (April 15)
JJ Bleday has gotten off to a slow start (.642 OPS) in his first taste of the Triple-A level, but MLB Pipeline’s No. 68 overall prospect hit a solo homer over the high left-field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The 24-year-old outfielder also walked twice as the leadoff batter. — Christina De Nicola
Birthday boy (April 15)
Right-hander Eury Pérez finally turned 19, striking out six batters across 3 2/3 innings for Double-A Pensacola. He did allow five runs (three earned) on four hits with two walks. MLB Pipeline’s No. 40 overall prospect is facing competition nearly six years older than him. — Christina De Nicola
Watson stays hot at the plate (April 14)
Kahlil Watson is scorching the ball right now.
The Marlins’ No. 1 prospect and the 16th overall pick from the 2021 Draft hit his fourth home run on the season during the third inning against Single-A Fort Myers. The 18-year-old also singled to lead off the game and added a walk in the sixth.
The shortstop has been among the best hitters in the Florida State League during the young 2022 season. Over his first six games, Watson has slashed .391/.440/1.043, with three doubles, nine RBIs and a stolen base. — Dylan Svoboda
Watson brings the boom (April 13)
Kahlil Watson wasted little time making a resounding impact, leading off the game with his third home run of the season. Watson was feeling so good that he ambushed the first pitch of his next at-bat and plated two more runs with a double to right field.
Still just 18 years old, Watson became the first player in the Florida State League to collect three homers, doing so in just five games. In that span, Miami’s top prospect has slashed .368/.400/1.000, with three doubles, eight RBIs and one stolen base to his credit as well.
After an electric start to his professional career last summer, Watson has picked up right where he left off, showcasing the all-around offensive potential that led Miami to pony up its largest-ever signing bonus to a high-school position player. — Jesse Borek
Meyer perfect in abbreviated outing (April 12)
Max Meyer’s fastball, changeup and slider were all working beautifully in a dominant outing, but the factor he singled out as a difference maker was something else: his thoughts.
Watson goes deep on back-to-back nights (April 10)
Hey, this Watson guy can play.
It hasn’t taken Marlins No. 1 prospect Kahlil Watson much time at all to adjust to pro ball. The 16th overall pick from the 2021 Draft homered again in Single-A Jupiter’s 9-2 win over Palm Beach, clearing the wall for the second time in as many nights.
Cranking a leadoff solo homer off righty Trent Baker, Watson went yard one night after collecting his first professional homer. The 18-year old is 4-for-9 with five RBIs over his first three games, and 17-for-42 with nine extra-base hits as a pro dating back to last year.
Watson’s big weekend ended on a bit of a bittersweet note, however. He was removed from the Hammerheads’ latest win one at-bat after the homer, shortly after he slammed his bat in frustration leaving the batter’s box. MLB Network insider Craig Mish reported Watson was pulled due to a “non-injury related” reason. — Joe Trezza
Watson hits first professional homer (April 9)
Kahlil Watson flashed his power stroke and hit his first professional homer for Single-A Jupiter. Watson, the Marlins’ No. 1 prospect and the 16th overall pick from the 2021 Draft, went yard in the fourth inning as he hammered an 0-2 offering out to right-center. The 18-year-old added another hit and is 3-for-8 with four RBIs through two games. — William Boor
Pérez makes Double-A debut (April 8)
Teenager Eury Pérez had a solid start to the 2022 season in the Blue Wahoos’ 13-11 loss, striking out five batters across 4 1/3 innings. Perez, who doesn’t turn 19 until Friday, allowed three runs on three hits with two walks.
Four of the right-hander’s first eight outs came via the K, and he didn’t permit his first hit until the fourth. But Pérez was chased in the fifth after a hit-by-pitch and a single with one out. Lefty reliever Will Stewart proceeded to give up two inherited runs charged to Pérez.
Ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 41 overall prospect, Pérez broke out in 2021 with a 1.96 ERA and an 0.89 WHIP between Single-A Jupiter and High-A Beloit in 20 starts during his first pro season. The Marlins organization continues to challenge Pérez, who is facing much older competition.
“I actually didn’t see Eury last year,” general manager Kim Ng said on Thursday. “Definitely not in games, so it was great for me to be able to see him out on the backfields. He is every bit as advertised. Obviously with the buzz about him, and having gone through the offseason and hearing his name from — I wouldn’t say all 29 other clubs, but many of them — he is highly sought after.” — Christina De Nicola
Meyer whiffs five in season debut (April 5)
After reaching Triple-A in his first pro season, right-hander Max Meyer picked up right where he left off in his season debut for Triple-A Jacksonville. The Marlins No. 3 prospect (No. 35 overall), Meyer struck out five in four innings as the Jumbo Shrimp lost their opener to Worcester.
Meyer held the Red Sox to one hit before running into some command issues in the third, when Meyer allowed his first run on a wild pitch. A walk, hit batsman and Franchy Cordero single resulted in another run off Meyer in the fourth. Meyer did not factor in the decision, leaving after 69 pitches and four innings in a tie game. The third overall pick in the 2020 Draft, the 23-year-old Meyer pitched to a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts between Double- and Triple-A in 2021. — Joe Trezza
Watson makes Grapefruit League debut (April 3)
Kahlil Watson (MLB Pipeline’s No. 25 overall prospect) entered the game for second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out on three pitches in the ninth against Mets right-hander Trevor Williams.
With Minor League camp breaking, there were fewer prospects and non-roster invitees around as substitutions for Miami’s regulars.
“Good for them to come up, and trust me, getting that one at-bat, they’re happy as can be,” manager Don Mattingly said. “They wait around all day for that. It is good to see those guys.” — Christina De Nicola
Morissette singles in lone at-bat (April 1)
Cody Morissette (No. 16 prospect) pinch-ran for Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the seventh inning and scored on Erik González’s single in Miami’s 2-1 Grapefruit League loss to Houston on Friday. Morissette then collected a one-out base hit in the ninth. — Christina De Nicola
Manager Don Mattingly wants Cabrera to keep refining, especially the two-seamer he is working on to complement the four-seamer. Locating those fastballs along with his breaking pitches will be the key to his success.
“He’s a guy you could say, ‘You can put him out there and he’s going to be competitive, and it’s going to look OK,’ but there’s development left for him,” Mattingly said. — Christina De Nicola
Bleday collects a hit (March 29)
JJ Bleday, MLB Pipeline’s No. 69 overall prospect, served as the designated hitter in a 10-0 loss to the Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Bleday, who is no longer in big league camp, went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning single against right-hander Félix Peña.
— Christina De Nicola
Conine smashes first Spring Training hit — a solo homer (March 28)
Griffin Conine, Miami’s No. 27 prospect and the son of “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine, made a big splash in Monday’s 8-1 win over the Nationals when he sent the Marlins’ second home run of the game screaming over the left-field fence at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Conine had entered in the bottom of the seventh to replace Roman Quinn in right field. Batting eighth, the only chance Conine had at the plate was with two outs in the ninth inning, a chance he made sure to snatch as he roped the first pitch he saw from Joan Adon out of the park.
Last season, Conine hit 36 home runs between High-A Beloit and Double-A Pensacola. He finished the year with a combined .218 batting average, but boasted a .530 slugging percentage. Monday’s solo homer was further proof of the power and potential Conine exhibits. — Paige Leckie
Fortes optioned (March 26)
Nick Fortes (Miami’s No. 30 prospect) was among four players optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville. He will receive more consistent playing time with the Jumbo Shrimp rather than serving as the backup catcher to Jacob Stallings on the big league roster. — Christina De Nicola
Bleday, Burdick reassigned; Encarnación optioned (March 24)
JJ Bleday (MLB Pipeline’s No. 69 overall prospect) and Peyton Burdick (Miami’s No. 10 prospect) were non-roster invitees at big league camp for the second time, while Jerar Encarnación (Miami’s No. 22 prospect) is on the 40-man roster. He had gone 2-for-7 with a solo homer and a three-run double in Grapefruit League play. All three will begin to gear up for the Jumbo Shrimp’s season, which begins on April 5.
“It’s always good to have them in camp and get some experience,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Obviously a little shorter this year, little less playing time because of trying to push our guys to get ready earlier or in a shorter period of time. So they’re playing more innings faster. So there’s less at-bats, and it’s just time for them to get ready for a season.”
— Christina De Nicola
Encarnación comes up clutch (March 23)
Jerar Encarnación (Miami’s No. 22 prospect) knocked the go-ahead bases-clearing double to center in the sixth inning of the Marlins’ 3-2 Grapefruit League win over the Nats. He is 2-for-7 with a double and a homer this spring.
“We haven’t got a chance to see him near as much because of the COVID last couple of years, but this guy can swing,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s going to be dangerous. He’s a guy that’s going to be good.” — Christina De Nicola
Meyer ‘ready to roll,’ spotless in spring debut (March 21)
Right-hander Max Meyer, MLB Pipeline’s No. 35 overall prospect, pitched four perfect innings in a 3-0 win over the Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Piggybacking No. 4 starter Elieser Hernandez, Meyer struck out five batters while facing a Mets lineup featuring several big leaguers. Story > — Christina De Nicola
Encarnación sends pitch into orbit (March 19)
Jerar Encarnación may have shaved off his shaggy hair, but he wears a golden lion necklace around his neck to keep that spirit roaring. Miami’s No. 24 prospect showcased his plus raw power, turning on a first-pitch slider up and in from Astros right-hander Nick Hernandez for a solo homer to deep center at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Encarnación, who started in right field in Friday night’s Grapefruit League opener, took over at first base for Garrett Cooper on Saturday.
“Oooooh yeah, the best,” Encarnación said in Spanish. “Big Man is always looking for a home run.”
It is a pivotal juncture in the 24-year-old’s career. He led the Marlins system in RBIs and ranked second in extra-base hits in 2019, then knocked the decisive grand slam in the Arizona Fall League title game. But there have been roadblocks since then. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the ’20 Minor League season. In ’21, Encarnación appeared in just 63 Double-A games due to a right knee injury, and he couldn’t train at the development camp with his fellow prospects during the lockout, because he is on the 40-man roster.
“I don’t know how much we’ll see from him, but what he did today is really that danger,” manager Don Mattingly said. “A couple of years ago when he was here, you could see his really true opposite-field power. Another guy the ballpark’s not going to hold him. He just needs to keep playing. Get more experience with different styles of pitching. But he is a guy who can play a couple spots in the outfield, surprisingly good at first. He is another guy that’s coming but you don’t really hear much about. They don’t talk about Jerar very often, but he is a guy that’s going to be dangerous.” — Christina De Nicola
Perez, who doesn’t turn 19 until next month, struck out seven batters across 3 1/3 innings facing Double-A hitters from the Nationals’ organization. He allowed one run on two hits, throwing 51 pitches (35 strikes). The right-hander has been in Jupiter, Fla., since January for development camp and now Minor League camp.
In his debut season of professional baseball, Perez posted a 1.61 ERA and an 0.95 WHIP in 15 starts for Low-A Jupiter before earning a promotion to High-A Beloit. He didn’t experience much of a drop-off against competition more than five years older, posting a 2.86 ERA and an 0.73 WHIP in five starts. That catapulted him into Top 100 prospect status.
Hours after pitching on Friday, Perez took in the Marlins’ Grapefruit League opener against the Nationals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. — Christina De Nicola
Batting leadoff, the 24-year-old outfielder singled off right-hander Cade Cavalli (No. 39 overall) in their first matchup, then took him deep on a full-count 96 mph fastball for a two-run homer. Bleday capped his day with a broken-bat single against righty Luis Reyes.
“Just trying to get on the heater and not missing,” said Bleday, who didn’t get to face Cavalli in the Arizona Fall League.
A bulked-up Bleday caught everyone’s attention at the start of Minor League development camp in early February, though he said the added muscle hasn’t necessarily led to more pop. It has, however, helped with his recovery and strength.
“Staying inside and trusting my routine, and trusting my swing to kind of stick with your approach,” Bleday said. “Good hitters get jammed, and being able to trust that and make your move is huge.”