Top high school, college stars have names called in MLB Draft
Now that the minor-league season is over for every team except low-level Single A Clinton — which has advanced to the postseason — here’s Part 1 of our multipart series examining how Marlins top position prospects performed and where they stand, with outfielders first up today.
▪ Jesus Sanchez and Monte Harrison: We loop them together, because they’re the high-end outfield prospects (rated 40th and 85th among all prospects by MLB.com) that are closest to the big leagues.
Sanchez, acquired from Tampa Bay before the trade deadline, hit .246 with four homers and nine RBI in 17 games for the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate after hitting .275 with eight homers and 49 RBI in 78 games for the Rays’ Double-A affiliate and .206 in 18 games for Tampa’s Triple-A affiliate.
Harrison missed time with two different injuries but finished the season hitting .274 with nine homers and 24 RBI, plus 20 for 22 in stolen-base attempts, in 56 games at Triple A New Orleans. His strikeout rate dropped from 36.9 percent in 2018 to 29.9 percent this season.
So can the Marlins count on either for their outfield next season? It appears Harrison will be given a chance to win a big-league job in the spring, but Sanchez likely needs more time at Triple A. Both will be in big-league camp in spring training.
“Jesus has had a month of Triple A, not a full year at Triple A,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “Monte had a full year at Triple A, albeit the hamstring early and the wrist late, so he did not get a full complement of at bats. Both showed tremendous promise, tremendous high-end talent. Both are going to be part of the organization hopefully for many years to come.”
▪ Jerar Encarnacion: Hit .253 with six homers and 28 RBI in 68 games at Jupiter after hitting .298 with 10 homers and 43 RBI in 68 games earlier this season in Clinton, Iowa.
“There’s nothing not to like,” former Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs, who coached Encarnacion at Batavia last year and Clinton this year, told Baseball America and Miami Herald correspondent Walter Villa. “For a big guy, he plays the outfield well. You wouldn’t think he can cover as much ground as he does, but he seems to come out of nowhere to make catches. He’s really quick, and he gets good reads. And with his arm, you hope people try to run on him.
“Offensively, he has power to all fields. What has surprised a lot of people is how good a two-strike hitter he is . . . as long as he doesn’t chase.”
▪ JJ Bleday: The Marlins sent their first-round pick straight to high A Jupiter, and he performed capably, hitting .257 with three homers and 19 RBI in 38 games. That concluded a whirlwind year for Bleday in which he hit .347 with 27 homers and 72 RBI and led Vanderbilt to the College World Series championship while being selected fourth overall. MLB.com ranks him 30th among all prospects.
“We sent him straight to the Florida State League,” Hill said. “It speaks to what we think he can be — a very professional approach to the game. We couldn’t be happier with what he was able to do in his first taste of professional baseball. We batted him at the top of the lineup and the middle of that order, and he held his own and showed the things we feel are going to allow him to be a successful big league player in the future.”
▪ Connor Scott: A year after being selected 13th overall, the 19-year-old center fielder showed promise, earning a promotion to Jupiter after hitting .251 with four homers and 36 RBI in 95 games at Clinton. At Jupiter, he hit .235 with five RBI in 27 games. He stole 21 of 30 bases in Clinton and two of three attempts in Jupiter.
“He was one of the youngest players in the league, and it was a great experience for him to make the jump to high A,” Hill said. “He’s been batting leadoff there and holding his own. It’s speed, hitability and power [that we like]. We haven’t seen the power come to fruition yet because he’s only 19. In his first full season of professional ball, out of high school. To make his way to Jupiter is a credit to his hard work.”
▪ Kameron Misner: The Marlins’ second-round pick in June hit .276 with two homers and 20 RBI in 24 games Clinton, while stealing eight bases in eight attempts.
“We’ve seen exactly what we would have hoped to see,” Hill said. “He didn’t play as long as JJ and had a little more down time because his season ended a month before JJ’s. And he spent 10 days in the Gulf Coast League before we jumped him to the Midwest League. He’s been in the middle of that lineup. We see his speed, power, defense on display.”
▪ The Marlins’ Wright (State) brothers: Outfielders Peyton Burdick (selected in the third round) and J.D. Orr (chosen in the 10th) went from teaming up in Wright State’s outfield to excelling in their first year of professional baseball.
Burdick entered this week’s playoff action hitting .307 with 10 homers, 59 RBI and 20 doubles in 63 games at Clinton.
“With Burdick, that ability to drive in runs is a special ability that not every player has,” Hill said. “You’re talking about somebody just drafted in June. We started him in Batavia [New York] and jumped him to Clinton [after only six games at Batavia], and he’s been in the middle of that lineup every day and great to see his combination of hitability and ability to drive in runs.”
Orr hit .352 with 18 RBI and 29 steals in 46 attempts at Batavia.
With Orr, “he led the nation in stolen bases in college,” Hill noted. “We have to cut down on the caught stealings. Has impact speed that can impact the game in so many different ways and put pressure on the opposing team. To get that skill set in the 10th round, we’re excited to be able to do that.”
▪ Tristan Pompey. This was something of a lost year for the Marlins’ 2018 third-round pick out of the University of Kentucky. He was injured for most of the season and finished with a .194 average and 13 RBI in 42 games at Jupiter.
“Switch-hitter with power from both sides,” Hill said. “Obviously injuries are something we can’t control. We’ll have him healthy and look forward to seeing him in the spring.”
▪ Victor Victor Mesa: Showed promise at Jupiter after a slow start (.252, 26 RBI, 15 for 17 in steals) but struggled in his 27 games at Double A Jacksonville (.178).
▪ Victor Mesa Jr.: The 17-year-old .hit 284 with one homer and 27 RBI in 47 games in rookie league (the Gulf Coast League). The Marlins see big-league upside there.
▪ The Marlins also have several young outfielders on their team: Lewis Brinson (entered Monday hitting just .170 in 106 at-bats since his return from Triple A and .181 overall ), Harold Ramirez (.272, 10 homers , 46 RBI in 99 games) and Austin Dean (.200, 3, 13 in 45 games).
Next up: A look at Marlins position prospects in the infield and catcher.