Eury Perez continues to make Marlins fans feverish, several other prospects put up dominant pitching performances, and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp continue to hit as well as any team in the minors. Here is our weekly roundup as we head into May.
RHP Eury Perez, AA
This Week’s Stats: 5.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 12 K
Eury Perez had three promising outings in his AA debut to start this season. He had 18 strikeouts in just 12.0 innings prior to this past week’s start, but had yet to really put everything together in a single start. The Blue Wahoos revealed to us, prior to the start of the season, that Perez would be kept around the 75 pitch maximum per start. So, he has also not pitched deep into any games because he’s given up some hits. That all changed on Friday, when Perez went long enough to qualify for a win and absolutely dominated a Biloxi lineup that he was facing for the second time this season.
Perez got fifteen outs on Friday, and twelve of them came via punch-out. Luis Urias, who had a breakout season last year with Milwaukee and is with Biloxi rehabbing, provided two of those K’s. Garrett Mitchell, a first round pick two years ago and one of the Brewers’ best prospects, was a victim of two strikeouts himself. The bottom line is that whoever Perez faces on this level does not stand much of a chance when he is locating his pitches. The quality of his repertoire is just too much, with strikeouts coming on the changeup and fastball frequently. Unfortunately, the camera angle in Biloxi does not provide easy analysis on how well Perez was throwing, but the numbers speak for themselves. Eury has been hindered by a .375 BABIP to this point, which has resulted in some hits and runs. Yet, he has 30 strikeouts in 17 innings through four starts, and is getting more swings and misses than any starter at any level has a right to.
OF JJ Bleday, AAA
This Week’s Stats: 6-24, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp can really hit. Among all AAA teams, they rank fourth in homers, third in OPS, an fourth in runs scored. They have assembled an impressive collection of journeymen having breakout seasons, and then a few hyped prospects who are showing their talent this season. Bleday and Peyton Burdick fall into the ladder group, and have contributed to a solid 13-11 start for Jacksonville. Bleday took a few weeks to get going, but posted a .875 OPS last week that was backed by three extra base hits and three walks.
Scouts were more down on Bleday entering this season than they ever have been. The fourth overall pick in 2019 has struggled to get to his power in games to this point in his professional career, and added on some muscle in the hopes of slugging more this season. Bleday also played much better in the Arizona Fall League last year after making some mechanical adjustments at the plate, in part lowering his hands to potentially get a bit more loft in the swing.
Bleday also wanted to emphasize plate discipline, which he had gotten away from a bit in his early minor league appearances. This year, his BB% is at an impressive 15.6 %, leading to a respectable .333 OBP. His strikeouts are up a bit, but not yet to a concerning extent considering the sample size. Ultimately, it all comes down to Bleday unlocking whatever it is that helps him to tap into his raw power. We know he has more of it than he has shown in games, considering he has yet to post a .400 slugging percentage at any level. His .542 slugging percentage last week is a sign that Bleday is trending in the right direction, and why he is still one of the highest upside prospects in the Marlins system. He also had a few hard hit balls that were caught by the Charlotte defense last week, so that .235 BABIP should start trending upwards with greater luck.
3B/OF Charles Leblanc, AAA
This Week’s Stats: 10-23, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R
The best hitter in that vaunted Jacksonville lineup has been Leblanc, who has now been featured multiple times in our 2022 Weekly Roundups. While we look to feature different players each week, Leblanc has made it impossible not to mention him because he rakes in every series. His 197 wRC+ leads all the Marlins hitters at any level, which takes into account park factors and the offensive environment of the league in general. In other words, Leblanc has been 97% better than the average International League hitter. Considering he was released from the Rangers system this offseason, this has been a truly remarkable season from Leblanc.
Leblanc’s .469 BABIP will undoubtedly come back to earth a bit at some point, but there has been nothing fluky about his success. The strikeouts have gone down, the walks have gone up, and Leblanc always had a good amount of raw power. He is getting to more of it in the games now, and is racking up the extra base hits as a result. Leblanc’s defensive versatility is also important to note, and should help him eventually get a chance in the Majors. He has made starts at third base, second base, and left field this year, and made a few dazzling plays at the hot corner last week. Leblanc continues doing everything possible to make it hard for the Marlins to overlook him whenever they need to call someone up.
RHP Bryan Hoeing, AA
This Week’s Stats: 7.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K
Eury Perez has been promising, and beyond dominant, at certain points this season. Yet, no pitcher has performed better for Pensacola than Bryan Hoeing. The tall right hander was more of the veteran of the staff, and set a good example for a young guy like Perez to follow. In 25.2 innings pitched this season, Hoeing has given up just four runs, with only one being earned. He also has over a strikeout per inning, to go along with exceptional control. This kind of performance unarguably earned Hoeing the promotion to Jacksonville that he received on Sunday, due to Braxton Garrett’s injury.
To get a bit deeper into the weeds, Hoeing reminds me more of your typical workhorse starter straight out of the 1990s. He is a tall righty with a ton of downward action on his fastball that results in a plethora of groundballs. Hoeing led the High-A Central League in innings pitched last season, while putting up a groundball rate of over 55%. That is the formula to keep you in the game for longer, and to get outs more quickly. Hoeing is getting more strikeouts this year with an improved slider, and a changeup that neutralizes lefties well. With command as good as his, then anything extra he can get out of his stuff will go a long way. With the sinker sitting in the low-nineties and consistently hitting the bottom of the zone, I expect Hoeing to continue pitching well in Jacksonville. Our own Alex Carver further suggested on Twitter that Hoeing could serve in a multi-inning role out of the Marlins bullpen eventually, which makes sense considering his improved swing and miss stuff and the high groundball rate. Ultimately, he is the type of pitcher that managers tend to trust and know what they can expect from.
LHP Sandro Bargallo, A
This Week’s Stats: 5.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K
Speaking of miniscule ERA numbers this season, Bargallo is the owner of his own. Through just 18.2 innings for Jupiter, Bargallo has given up just one earned run and no unearned runs, putting his ERA at a petite 0.48. Walks were a major issue for the Cuban born lefty last season, with 31 free passes handed out in just 27.2 innings. Walking more than one guy per inning is never going to work at any level, but Bargallo seems to have made some of the necessary adjustments this year. Through those 18.2 innings, he has walked 9 batters, which is still a bit high but is not hindering his success to this point. For a just-turned twenty year old, as long as the control is improving than there is plenty to be excited about.
This past Sunday, Bargallo shut down the Palm Beach Cardinals lineup over five innings to help the Hammerheads to a 1-0 victory. The organization has limited Bargallo to one start per week at this point, which is probably wise considering his age and the goal of gradually building up his innings. Bargallo has demonstrated swing and miss stuff throughout his brief minor league career; in 66 professional innings he has 92 strikeouts. That has come at the lower levels, but shows the quality of the fastball-curveball combo that Bargallo is capable of displaying. Against Palm Beach, the curveball was frequently his out pitch, and resulted in four of his strikeouts. The fastball sat in the low nineties, and should keep getting faster as Bargallo develops and gets stronger. The fastball has, like Hoeing’s, resulted in many grounders, indicating tailing two-seam movement. Consistently throwing strikes is the clear way to improvement for Bargallo, and why I think he could skyrocket up prospect rankings by this time next year.
OF Davis Bradshaw, A+
This Week’s Stats: 4-12, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 SB
The Beloit Sky Carp have struggled to start the season, with a 7-14 record placing them in the entirety of the Midwest League. Still, they have had a few bright spots to start the year, and Bradshaw has clearly been one of them. With a 165 wRC+, Bradshaw has emerged as Beloit’s best hitter, along with JD Orr. This past week’s performance was not actually one of his stronger ones, but we have yet to talk much about Bradshaw and he is clearly worthy of recognition. Besides, a .429 OBP, which Bradshaw posted last week, is certainly nothing to scoff at.
Drafted in 2018 out of Meridian Community College in Mississippi, Bradshaw is an impressive athlete with raw talent that has not yet translated into success onto the field. To this point in the 2022 season, he has displayed more power than we have seen at any point in his professional career. Bradshaw has also managed to continue making a high level of contact, which is necessary for a twenty-four year old who is still playing at a lower level of the minor leagues. Beloit is not a hitter’s paradise, especially in the cold month of April, but Bradshaw is still making the most of his athleticism and speed to get on base. Hopefully, the power will continue to come as the weather gets warmer.
Next Up (5/3-5/8)
- AAA Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp at Memphis
- AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos at Mississippi
- A+ Beloit Sky Carp at Great Lakes
- A Jupiter Hammerheads at Daytona
- Craig Mish and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provide updates on Max Meyer’s potential timeline and updates on Braxton Garrett and Ian Lewis.
- Man On 2nd Baseball‘s Joe Frisaro and Eric Wiedeke discuss what is next for the Marlins’ rotation and bullpen
- Fish Stripes‘ Ely Sussman delves into Kahlil Watson’s heightened K rate thus far.
- The Herald’s Jordan McPherson and Andre Fernandez discuss what is going right for the Marlins so far and what could be going better on their latest episode of Fish Bytes.