Miami Marlins

JJ Bleday made his debut in the Marlins organization, but a near no-hitter stole the show

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Miami Marlins Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter talks to the media before start of the first full-squad spring training workout on Monday, February 18, 2019 in Jupiter, FL.
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Miami Marlins Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter talks to the media before start of the first full-squad spring training workout on Monday, February 18, 2019 in Jupiter, FL.

JJ Bleday officially began his professional career with the Miami Marlins, going 1 for 4 with a strikeout on Saturday for the Class A Advanced Jupiter Hammerheads.

Usually, the No. 4 overall pick in the MLB draft making his debut would be the story.

Will Stewart had other plans.

Stewart, the Marlins’ No. 21 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline acquired as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade in February, was one out away from throwing a no-hitter in the Hammerheads’ 3-1 win over the Palm Beach Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

The Cardinals’ Bryce Denton broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out double to center field that ended Stewart’s night. Dennis Ortega broke up the shutout with an RBI single off reliever C.J. Carter.

Stewart’s lone blemish before the ninth-inning hit was a sixth-inning walk that was erased by a double play. He struck out seven in the win. Stewart threw 108 pitches, 68 strikes.

It was a needed showing for Stewart, who has struggled mightily this season for Jupiter after a strong first few starts.

The 22-year-old lefty started the year by holding opponents to just three runs over his first three starts — a stint that included him carrying a no-hit bid into the eighth inning.

He had given up five or more earned runs in seven of his 13 starts since then heading into Saturday.

As for Bleday, he recorded his first professional hit in his third at-bat with a leadoff single in the fifth. He grounded out to third base in the first and struck out in the third before turning on a 1-1 fastball and sending it into center field.

Bleday’s debut comes eight days after signing his contract that came with a $6.67 million signing bonus. The 21-year-old, fresh off a College World Series championship with the Vanderbilt Commodores, started in right field and batted third for the Hammerheads.

The Marlins initially discussed having Bleday start with their Gulf Coast League affiliate for a few games before deciding whether to move him to Class A Clinton or to Jupiter to finish his shortened first professional season. Instead, they decided to throw him right into the fire.

Bleday, a left-handed outfielder who can hit for both average and power, 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 while helping the Vanderbilt Commodores win the College World Series. He finished his three-year college career with a .326 batting average, 109 RBI, 131 runs scored and more walks (126) than strikeouts (107).

“It shows you where you want to be,” Bleday, who received a $6.67 million signing bonus, recently said of his college career. “You know what goal you want to meet, and that’s just to win baseball games.”

Saturday marked his first step to doing that at the professional level.

Misner’s next

Kameron Misner, whom the Marlins selected with the 35th overall pick out of the University of Missouri, will make his debut on Sunday with the Marlins’ Gulf Coast League team. That game is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Complex.

Misner, who has not played since Missouri was eliminated from the SEC Tournament on May 21, hit a career-best 10 home runs as a junior to go along with 32 RBI and 54 runs scored. However, 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.

More minor-league notes

Outfielder Monte Harrison, the Marlins’ No. 2 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, had surgery on his wrist during the All-Star break. He is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

Second baseman Isan Diaz, the Marlins’ No. 6 prospect, hit his 24th home run of the season for Triple A New Orleans on Friday night. It was his fourth home run in the past six games.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.