Every spring, key pieces of the Marlins’ future come to spring training to give a small sneak peak at what is coming for the organization. This year, we will get much more than a small sneak peak. Last Monday, the Marlins announced their 18 non-roster invitees for spring training and by so doing alerted us to the fact that many highly touted prospects will be on the big league roster for the Grapefruit League session. The list includes five of Fish On The Farm’s top 20 prospects, seven of our top 30 and our 31st and 32nd ranked players. There will be a lot to watch in the second half of Marlins’ spring training games beginning later this month. Here are the guys we are most excited to see get their much deserved chance to strut their stuff on the main fields this spring.
OF Peyton Burdick
2019 (A-/A): .308/.407/.542, 11 HR, 35 XBH, 64 RBI, 72/34 K/BB, 7/7 SB/CS
Edmund Peyton Burdick is a Marlins’ 2018 third round pick and one of two Miami picks from Wright State University in that draft. All Peyton did in college was hit .349/.465/.585 and propel WSU to two league championships. He also threw in a .252/.351/.435 showing in the wood bat summer leagues. Burdick signed for all of $397,500 well under slot value. The Ohio native, Peyton jumped all over the chance to make his career in South Florida.
“We went down there for a workout and their stadium was unbelievable,” Burdick said of the region. “The Sunshine State, you can’t beat it.”
All Peyton has done since signing is hit .308/.407/.542 with 11 bombs, four triples, 20 doubles and a 72/34 K/BB. He also stole seven bases in 14 attempts and drove in 64 runs, all mostly as a member of the Clinton LumberKings who made the Midwest League championship.
Not long after the completion of the 2019 MiLB season, Burdick was named the Marlins’ low A MVP and invited to take BP with the big league team. He recently talked recently about that experience, labeling it invaluable.
“I don’t think there was one moment where I didn’t have a smile on my face,” Burdick said of big-league BP. “You get to see how the big-leaguers are living and take batting practice with them and hang out. We got to see Juan Soto hit because they were playing the Nationals. You want to play against those guys one day and it just feels good to be in that moment.”
This spring, Burdick will get to be in that moment on a daily basis. Considering how he made the most of that experience and considering how he hasn’t let the lost MiLB season deter him from getting his work in — he has been adhering to a strict training regimen both in the gym and on the field back home — there is little doubt Burdick is going to reap the benefits of his invite to spring training.
Based off his history, Burdick is an ultimate competitor who is used to winning and has the tools to further ensure whatever team he is on be it collegiate or MiLB, does so. He stands just 6’, 205 but with great bat speed, a very advanced approach, good plate vision and the ability to get his entire body involved in his swing that shows fantastic bat control and the ability to stay all the way through the ball on top of plus speed, Burdick, in his second year pro, comps well to Justin Upton, a .264/.345/.474, 147/58 SB/CS, 33.9 WAR similarly built 6’1”, 215 pound righty stick. Upton is a four time All-Star and three time Silver Slugger.
With the background and ability to see the ball which has translated well to the affiliated ranks, an absolutely explosive swing when he engages it, plus speed and a good outfield arm all despite the fact he went through Tommy John which cost him a full season in 2017, Peyton could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the 2019 Draft, especially considering the price tag. We fully expect him to put on a show this spring before starting 2021 in A+. With similar results, he should get a quick promotion to AA. Along with JJ Bleday, Kameron Mizner and others, Burdick is a huge piece of the Marlins’ not-too-distant future outfield.
There will be many prospects that are part of both the 40 man roster and this NRI group to keep tabs on this spring. But if you were to ask us to pick just one, Peyton Burdick would be our pick.
RHP Max Meyer
2018-2020 (NCAA): 46 G, 148 IP, 2.68 ERA, 0.939 WHIP, 187/41 K/BB
Meyer is the Marlins’ highly heralded first round pick out the University of Minnesota from the abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft. The third overall pick, Meyer enjoyed a fantastic collegiate career both coming out of the pen in his freshman season (43.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, .870 WHIP16 SV, 54/13 K/BB) and after making the near-full-time move to the rotation in his sophomore year (16 G, 11 GS, 76.2 IP, 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 87/20 K/BB). He was off to a similarly great start to his junior year (27.2 IP, 1.95 ERA, .083 WHIP, 46/8 K/BB) before COVID wiped out the collegiate season. If not for the pandemic, Meyer may have been in the discussion for first overall. Projected to go eighth overall by Jonathan Mayo, the Marlins took Max at number three. While Asa Lacy, whom the Marlins were favorites to receive with their selection, signed for slightly over slot value, Max signed for slightly under value. With the saved funds, the Marlins signed their second pick, high schooler Daxton Fulton, away from his college commitment.
#Marlins select righty Max Meyer out of Minnesota at number three.— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) June 10, 2020
A surprise pick for sure but it’s hard to argue with a triple digit fastball and this slider.#305OnTheRise | #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/qNb57lfLMj
Meyer’s stuff is absolutely electric. He’s up as high as 101 with the heat and down to 88-90 with his wipeout power slider. He also has a third pitch changeup that’s on the rise. Numerous scouts say Meyer’s fastball is already 70 grade (with the ability to get even better). The slider has very little vertical movement but thanks to off-the-charts spin rates, has ridiculous late horizontal movement leading to his equally ridiculous whiff rates and the ability to make the opposition look silly fishing for the pitch out of the zone without even having to challenge with it. The third pitch changeup is definitely not anywhere near as advanced as his other two pitches but considering how good those two offerings are, that isn’t a knock on the pitch whatsoever. Considering how he masks each of his pitches with the same exact arm speed, the changeup, which shows good fade back to his arm side, tunnels extremely well off the heat. If he can get the spin rate on the changeup to approach anywhere near where his other two pitches are in that department, Meyer, who was very tough for metal bat Big 10 hitters to barrel up, would be equally tough — if not tougher — for wood bats to damage.
The biggest knock on Meyer is the fact that he is not your typical pitcher’s body, just 6’, 196 at age 23. However, considering his collegiate pedigree, his fiery velo, the repeatability in his mechanics including matched arm speed on all three pitches and his ability to hold each of those things throughout his starts, Meyer comes to the Marlins system, including the tutelage of Mel Stottlemyre Jr and Co. this spring not too far from a finished product. If he continues to impress this spring and to start the year in AAA, Meyer could make his Marlins debut in pretty short order. For a comp, look to the similar size and equally fiery arm of Johnny Cueto.
OF JJ Bleday
2019 (A+): 38 G, .257/.311/.379, 3 HR, 11 XBH, 29/11 K/BB
Another first rounder, Bleday is the Marlins’ 2019 fourth overall pick and one of 17 Vanderbilt College World Series champions to be selected that year. Bleday was the brightest shining star (among many other twinkling ones) among that Commodores team ending his three year collegiate career with a .347/.465/.701, 27 HR, 58/61 K/BB junior season. He also threw in two summer league showings equating to a .286/.375/.484, 7 HR, 37/27 K/BB stat line.
Bleday, the SEC’s player of the year who led the circuit in most categories, came to the Fish and was immediately assigned to A+. In a pitchers’ league, he hit .257/.311/.379 in his first 38 pro games. He was invited to spring training for the first time in 2020 where he really impressed.
The owner of four of five tools, Bleday has some of the simplest and most balanced plate mechanics of anyone in the entire Marlins organization. Approaching from the back of the box and from a straight through stance, Bleday doesn’t exhibit much of (if any) of a timing trigger but rather relies on plus plus plate vision and fantastic bat speed to execute a mostly straight through swing with slight uppercut action that comes by high percentages of barrel contact, regular doubles power and the ability for 20+ homers annually. With the ability to hit for both average and power due to his knowledge of the strike zone and advanced plate discipline, Bleday is a guy who will work counts, force pitchers into mistakes and use his standout approach and swing mechanics to collect extra bases very frequently. He lines up as a guy who will hit for both average and power at the next level while also limiting strikeouts.
Bleday definitely has the tools, the pedigree, the work ethic and the will to succeed. We just need to see it show at the next level and his affiliated career is off to a great start based off where he started and what he was able to accomplish. If Bleday can show out in AA Pensacola this coming season, he could be MLB bound to begin 2022.
We view the southpaw Bleday, the owner of 55 grade hit, power, arm and field tools with the capability to bump most of those up to 60 as he gains polish, to comp to a physically bigger version of Andrew Bennintendi, a stingy lefty hit-over-power tool threat that smacks regular doubles and is an annual 20/20 threat. Bennintendi has hit .273/.353/.435 so far in his five year career.
OF Kameron Misner
2019 (Rk/A): 42 G, .270/.388/.362, 2 HR, 11 XBH, 24 RBI, 42/30 K/BB
Misner is another member of that stellar 2019 draft orchestrated by Michael Hill, DJ Svihlik and company. Kam attended the University of Missouri where he was a .301/.424/.489 bat over three seasons. He also added in an absurd standout performance in the wood bat New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2017 after his freshman season: .378/.479/.652 with eight homers and a 20/28 K/BB. A 2017 Freshman All-American, a 2018 second team All-SEC selection and a member of 2019 Golden Spikes watch list, the highly touted outfielder came to the Fish at number 35 overall.
Misner had a very short eight game stint in the GCL before being called up to low A Clinton. In a 34 game stint with the LumberKings, Mizner impressed hitting .276/.380/.373 in 134 ABs. The lefty showed good bat-to-ball skills and good speed, stealing eight bags in eight chances. He also doubled seven times and homered twice.
Pro scouting reports on Kam are as encouraging as they come. Labeled one of the most toolsy players in the 2019 Draft, Misner is said to have better raw hit, power and fielding than the Marlins’ first round pick from the same draft, Bleday and he adds in plus speed. The major difference between Bleday and Misner though is the current level of development. While the swing is gorgeous, the power is surprisingly predominant for a guy of his lanky 6’4”, 215 build and while his physical mechanics are simple and repeatable from top to bottom, Kam can be a bit too tepid at the plate especially early in counts, letting hittable pitches pass him by and putting him at the mercy of the pitcher. While patience are a good thing, he’s historically been a bit TOO patient and pitchers at the upper levels will exploit that. Kam has the capability for all five tools necessary to be a standout top-tier performer in the big leagues. We don’t say it often about guys at this level of development, but heading into his age 24 season, we want to see Kam be a bit more aggressive at the plate and trust himself. The results should come naturally: he should put more balls in play and his speed and baserunning prowess will be at his disposal more often.
The lack of aggression is the only thing holding Misner back from a very high ceiling. If a bump in plate vision and more confidence in his own abilities can be coached out of him, Kam could approach a ceiling reminiscent of Christian Yelich, a similarly built lefty bat who with annual .300/.375/.450, 30/30 HR/SB annual potential. He should start 2021 in A+ Beloit and with success, could rise up to AA by mid season. Regardless, 2021, including spring training, will be a big year for Misner’s development and for the Marlins, a measuring stick of the ceiling he hopes to reach. We will be watching him closely.
3B Joe Dunand
2019 (AA): 130 G, .242/.314/.333, 5 HR, 31 XBH, 42 RBI, 119/38 K/BB
Dunand is a Miami native and the nephew of Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez who attended the renowned baseball factory Gulliver Prep as a high schooler where he hit nine home runs in a span of five games in his graduating year. He then attended college at NC State where he had a .268/.334/.476 three year career. He also threw an impressive 34 game 326/.372/.511 Cape Cod Summer League showing in in 2016.
Dunand came to the Marlins as their second round pick in the 2017 Draft. Not long after his selection, Dunand suffered an injury and didn’t begin his big league career until August of that same season. Between the GCL and A+, he got in eight games. He started 2018 back in Jupiter where he performed well in the first half, well enough to get the call up to AA.
Joe has been playing at that level ever since. The results: pretty average. 191 games, .233/.302/.345, 12 HR, 190/54 K/BB. The reason behind his first invite to Marlins spring training was the way Dunand put on a show in the Dominican Winter League this offseason.
Joe Dunand go-ahead HR! 💪— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 22, 2020
Good week for him in winter ball pic.twitter.com/EYnCFtPohK
Playing against competition over three years older than him on average, Dunand in 21 games hit .319/.398/.542 with three homers, seven doubles, 12 RBIs and a 25/9 K/BB. He also played some stellar defense at third base. Like his uncle before him, Dunand can also play shortstop but his future is at the hot corner.
He’s also doing stuff like this frequently on the other side of the ball. pic.twitter.com/NVdTT1JDQa— Fish On The Farm (@marlinsminors) December 7, 2020
It was a small sample size but it was extremely encouraging for the Marlins front office to see Dunand play some great all around innings in wake of the lost MiLB season and his average performance at AA the last time he was on the field stateside. It speaks to the work ethic, athleticism and tools (albeit late to bloom tools) of Dunand and you cannot argue with the pedigree considering he grew up very close with to his uncle. Looking at Dunand in Jacksonville in 2019 vs Dunand in the Dominican this year, there are some noticeable differences.
The first thing to notice is that Dunand is setting up lower in his stance. The toe tap trigger he was using in 2019 has been traded for an elevated front foot trigger. His elbows are also slightly higher and away from his body, aiding in his reach. Finally, Dunand appears to have added quite a bit of bulk. Each of these improvements should aid Dunand in continuing to hit for power to his pull side which he’s always favored while also allowing him to reach more more areas of the field and above all, reach base more often. That’s what the Marlins hope to see out of Dunand this spring. He should start the year in AAA, but with a good showing in spring and success back in Jacksonville, now the AAA affiliate, Dunand could join the Marlins as a bat off the bench and much needed current depth at third base.
Continue to follow Fish On The Farm here, on social media (@marlinsminors/@danieldevivo) and via our podcast Swimming Upstream, available via Apple Podcasts and Spotify all spring long and leading into the return of Minor League Baseball.