The Miami Marlins continued to lock up more players from their 2019 MLB Draft class, with four more of their 41 selections finalizing deals as of Friday.
However, their top two selections — Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday (No. 4 overall) and Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner (No. 35 overall) — remain unsigned with one week remaining for draft picks to sign contracts.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill is not worrying just yet, though. The Marlins still have until 5 p.m. on July 12 to finalize the deals, and Hill believes they’ll happen.
“We’re still encouraged,” Hill said Friday before the Marlins opened a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, their final series ahead of the All-Star Break.
The main thing left is putting pen to paper.
The latest wave of signings announced Friday — Louisville right-handed pitcher Bryan Hoeing (Round 7, No. 201 overall), Vanderbilt left-handed pitcher Zach King (Round 13, No. 381), Mississippi State catcher Dustin Skelton (Round 18, No. 531) and Vanderbilt infielder Julian Infante (Round 36, No. 1,071) — allows the Marlins to focus their attention toward their three remaining big-name picks. Bleday and Misner are the obvious first two priorities. Hill also said the Marlins are still making a push with 12th-round pick Chris Mokma, a right-handed pitcher and Michigan State commit from Michigan’s Holland Christian High.
The delay in signing Bleday is in part to the fact that his college season didn’t end until June 26 with the Commodores winning the College World Series. Hill and the Marlins gave Bleday some time to decompress after a 71-game college season, but are optimistic a deal will be finalized in the coming days. The No. 4 overall pick has a $6,664,000 slot value.
Bleday, 21, hit an NCAA-leading 27 home runs to go along with a .347 batting average, .465 on-base percentage, .701 slugging percentage and 72 RBI during his junior season with the Commodores. He finished his three-year college career with a .326 batting average, 109 RBI, 131 runs scored and more walks (126) than strikeouts (107).
The general thought is that Bleday will be able to start his professional career shortly after signing.
“His season ended last Wednesday,” Hill said, “so he hasn’t been inactive very long.”
Misner, however, has not played since Missouri’s season ended in the SEC Tournament on May 21. Misner, a lefty-hitting outfielder, hit a career-best 10 home runs as a junior to go along with 32 RBI and 54 runs scored but his batting averaged regressed from .360 as a sophomore to .286 as a junior. A 6-4, 213-pound left-handed hitter, Misner has 21 career home runs and 56 total extra-base hits over three seasons with Missouri.
The slot value for the No. 35 pick is $2,095,800.
“We hopefully can get him signed and back in the flow of things because he’s been down for well over a month,” Hill said. “You want him out playing, but we understand that it’s a process. Until we have an agreement, he’s unsigned, but like I said, we want to get those guys playing as soon as possible so they can begin their career. It’s a tremendous opportunity for them with this organization. Hopefully they see that opportunity and are looking forward to starting their career.
The Marlins also announced the signing of undrafted free agent Kale Leach, a senior right-handed pitcher from Cal State Monterey Bay.