Spring Training player to watch: Miami Marlins' Jacob Berry

Where will Berry be in the spring?

Miami Marlins Photo Day
Miami Marlins Photo Day / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The Miami Marlins' league-low activity during the 2023-2024 MLB offseason may indicate that the club intends to build off their surprise postseason berth by relying heavily on developing their young talent.

Marlins Prospect Jacob Berry can make an impact

Unfortunately, Miami's farm system ranks near the very bottom of MLB's regarding depth and quality. After adding minimal needle-moving talent thus far, there is room for pessimism about the club's short-term future.

However, not all hope is lost. The Marlins had three players in MLB's 2023 top 100. Two of these, ace Eury Perez (#13 overall) and recovering starter Max Meyer (#67) have already shown signs at the major-league level. However, the third prospect, 3B Jacob Berry (#61), is still an untapped MLB commodity.

Could Berry make a difference for the 2024 club? The short answer is yes.

The former 6th overall draft pick (2022) certainly has prospect pedigree working in his favor. During his two years in the Marlins' minor league system, he has also shown an ability to hit for modest power (nine homers across 107 games in 2023), while also adding plus speed for a corner-infielder (10 steals in 2023).

Still just 22 years old, Berry has room to continue to build strength and improve his power swing. Though he will likely never be a difference-making source of home runs, he appeared to find his stride as a hitter as the minor league season progressed.

Despite hitting just .236 in his MiLB career, Berry began a two-month tear in June of 2023 in which he posted a rock-solid .287.358/.447. During that span, 10 of his 27 hits went for extra bases. If this improvement as a contact hitter allows him to get on base reguarly, his speed could allow him to carve out a lane as a threat on the basepaths.

Berry's 10 steals in 2023 would have tied him for 7th-most in MLB amongst third-baseman. If he ever shifted to 1B, his speed totals would have tied for 6th highest at that position.

Interestingly enough, Berry drew comparisons to current Miami 1B Josh Bell during his time as a draft prospect. While the power floor appears to be settling lower, perhaps having access to learn from Bell could be timely for the young prospect when he inevitably does crack the MLB roster.

Based on his current profile, Berry shows shades of Pittsburgh's Ke'Bryan Hayes (without the power and overall upside) and San Diego's Jake Cronenworth (in terms of his multi-positional eligibility and his threat to hit 10-homers and steal 10+ bags in a season). As a floor, 10-year MLB veteran and career journeyman Jace Peterson carries a similar skillset.

As Spring Training unfolds, keep a close eye on Berry's contact skills, his average, and his ability to get on base. If he manages to build an upswing in power, he could be MLB-ready by the trade deadline. However, a good OBP, when combined with his speed, would likely give him a legitimate chance to help the major league club.

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