The Miami Marlins pick fourth overall in this season’s draft.
It’s still anyone’s guess who ends up available after the top three picks. CBS Sports has Adley Rutschman, legacy player Bobby Witt Jr., and C.J. Abrams going to the Baltimore Orioles, the Kansas City Royals, and the Chicago White Sox prior to the Miami Marlins pick. With the fourth overall choice, they forecast power-hitting outfielder J.J. Bleday, a Vanderbilt alum to go to the Fish. According to Mike Axisa:
"The Marlins have been connected to Bleday, a lefty power hitter who is above-average speed away from being a five-tool player, for weeks now. Andrew Vaughn would be awfully tempting though. As good a hitter as he is, the historically poor track record of righty hitting/righty throwing first basemen is pushing Vaughn down our final mock draft. Bleday it is for Miami."
Bleday, a 6’3″, 205 lb. native of Danville, PA, is a lefty-hitting and throwing power threat. Now completing his junior season with the Commodores, he was already once chosen in the MLB Draft. In 2016, the San Diego Padres chose him in the 39th round.
Bleday hit .256 with two homers in 51 games as a freshman, then in 2018, he pushed his average up over 100 points to .368, but only clubbed four homers in 39 contests.
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Only this past season did Bleday really find a power stroke. Without losing anything off his average, Bleday has slashed .354/.468/.747 as a junior, with an NCAA-leading 26 homers and 68 RBI. He has also shown an impressive batter’s eye, drawing 51 walks versus 50 strikeouts over 61 games played. Second-ranked Vandy will continue their season at the Super-Regional (that’s college baseball’s version of the Sweet 16) next weekend against the Duke Blue Devils. According to Forbes:
"An upper echelon college hitter who is beginning to develop his power at the plate, Bleday has consistently demonstrated strike zone discipline. While he is classified as a below average runner, Bleday makes up for this deficiency with keen baseball instincts and a strong throwing arm from the outfield. It is believed that Bleday’s defensive skills are best suited for left or right field. – Wayne G. McDonnell, Jr."
The Miami Marlins have a real opportunity to make a statement with this pick, and with this draft overall. Although the Marlins have traditionally loaded up on promising prep players early in prior drafts, things seem to be different this time around. If Abrams is gone to the White Sox, and the Marlins pass on Vaughn as expected, Bleday should go to Miami.
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