In only his second season in the Miami Marlins organization, outfielder JJ Bleday is already the turning heads of the coaching staff and veteran players.
At some point outfielder JJ Bleday is going to be the face of the Miami Marlins organization. It may not happen tomorrow. It may not even happen this year. But eventually, Bleday is going to remind 29 other major league teams why Miami made him their first-round pick in the 2019 MLB draft.
While he is still becoming acclimated with life away from college, where he helped Vanderbilt win the 2019 World Series, his rise in the Marlins organization has been steady. He should continue his ascension through the team’s minor-league system this season starting in Class-A ball but could make his way to AA Jacksonville by midseason.
There is no timetable on when he’s expected to make his Marlins debut, but some baseball analysts predict it could be a soon as 2021.
"“There are a few other things which make Bleday unusual for a top-five pick. Coaches and teammates say he has been mostly just a quiet observer throughout his first trip to spring training,” writes David Wilson of the Miami Herald.“They also rave about how polished he is at just 22. When he was drafted No. 4 overall by Miami in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Marlins immediately sent him to play for Class A Advanced Jupiter rather than a short-season league, where most players go when they are taken out of college.”"
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The decision to draft Bleday was a bit of a different path for the Marlins front office. Derek Jeter and Michael Hill and the team’s scouting department decided to locate older, more mature players where their development has progressed. The end to find college players, namely outfielders, who can provide power and consistency at the plate. This is a change from their original game plan of finding young arms the feeder system could develop overtime to become the foundation of this franchise.
So far, both plans have worked as pitchers acquired through trades and the draft will provide Miami a steady dose of prospects over the next few years, much like the Atlanta Braves in the early 1990s.
"“Bleday’s rapid ascent from relatively unheralded out of high school — at least for a future top-five pick — to stardom is encouraging for the Marlins. Bleday was only the No. 151 prospect in PerfectGame.org rankings for the Class of 2016 and wasn’t taken until the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft,” Wilson adds.“He batted just .256 as a freshman for Vanderbilt, then spiked to .368, but only with four home runs. As a junior in 2019, Bleday hit .347 with a 1.166 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 27 home runs.”"
Now, he is the Marlins No. 2 prospect in the organization and amongst the top 30 prospects in all of Minor League Baseball. He and other prospects have made the Marlins farm system one of the best in the Majors.
Bleday was not the only one drafted last season who has turned heads. Kam Misner and Peyton Burdick showed they could hit the ball pretty well last season and should be able to take the next step in the MLB education this year.