July 1, 2022

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Watson among 5 Marlins prospects off to fast starts

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MIAMI — A little more than a week into the Minor League season, why not highlight some of the fast starts from Top 30 Prospects as well as lesser-known guys in the Marlins’ system?

Selected 16th overall in last year’s MLB Draft, a hamstring strain limited him to just nine games in the Florida Complex League. Despite how highly touted he is, starting off this strong in the tough Florida State League wasn’t expected.

“Just a very gifted player,” Marlins director of player development Geoff DeGroot said. “The combination of hittability and power that he has from the left side, the strength, the bat speed, you see all those things, and he’s able to carry it into games as well. For him to be doing what he’s doing at his age and in full-season professional baseball, it’s really impressive, and it speaks to his talent and it speaks to his ability.”

1B/OF Jerar Encarnacion
A member of the 40-man roster, Encarnacion’s last two seasons have been disjointed — dealing with injuries in 2021 and a cancelled ’20 Minor League slate. This comes on the heels of his game-winning grand slam in the ’19 Arizona Fall League title game. Before being optioned this spring, the 24-year-old doubled and homered in seven at-bats.

In nine games for Double-A Pensacola, Miami’s No. 22 prospect has two homers and an .808 OPS with 16 strikeouts and two walks.

“He’s got really true opposite-field power,” manager Don Mattingly said in March. “Another guy the ballpark’s not going to hold. 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.”

C Paul McIntosh
The Marlins’ amateur scouting and analytics departments identified McIntosh as a non-drafted-free-agent target out of West Virginia University in 2021. In his first taste of the Minors, he appeared in 23 games for Jupiter, posting a 1.020 OPS. Due to his age (24) and collegiate experience, the organization sent him to Double-A Pensacola, where he has picked up right where he left off. The 6-foot-1, 220 pounder is slashing .500/.576/.929 in seven games.

More importantly, McIntosh has been tasked with catching top pitching prospects Eury Pérez and Zach McCambley. DeGroot called him one of the most mature players in the organization.

“He’s just got a lot of impact in the bat, and beyond that, he’s a pretty professional hitter,” DeGroot said. “He’s come in and really worked his tail off since Day 1. He’s a true professional. He takes his job very seriously. He’s one of the first guys to the ballpark every single day, and he really does a great job focusing on all the little details of his entire game — not just offensively but defensively as well. To have a catcher with that sort of ability and impact in the bat is something that’s really exciting for us.”

RHP Bryan Hoeing
Hoeing is a pitcher Miami’s player development team has been fond of the past couple of years. The seventh-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft has not given up an earned run in 13 innings across two starts for the Blue Wahoos. The 25-year-old has 16 strikeouts to just three walks, with a .212 batting average against.

“He’s got some pitchability, command, fastball movement, velo, and now two offspeed pitches to go with it,” DeGroot said. “Great athlete, fields his position well, controls the running game. He does all those little things. He’s got a slow heartbeat out there.”

OF Peyton Burdick
Last September, Burdick received a promotion to Triple-A Jacksonville after compiling an .848 OPS at Double-A Pensacola in his first full pro season. Through 11 games in 2022, the 25-year-old has 16 runs, one double, three homers, three stolen bases and six RBIs. Burdick has struck out 14 times and walked 10 times.

A non-roster invitee at big league camp each of the last two springs, Miami’s No. 10 prospect can play all three outfield positions. But with Jorge Soler, Jesús Sánchez and Avisaíl García as Miami’s starters, and Bryan De La Cruz as the fourth option, Burdick and fellow Triple-A prospect JJ Bleday are on the outside looking in for now.

“You want them to force the issue,” Mattingly said in March. “Honestly, you want them to knock the door down and keep making decisions tough for us, create value in different areas. It’s probably a good sign for us that we’re not trying to rush them to the big leagues where they’ve basically been kind of through all the steps. Honestly, it’s better instead of getting to the big leagues a little too early. Then you end up going back and forth, you’re burning options, and by the time they’re ready, you don’t really fully get them developed.”

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