2022 Miami Marlins Top 5 Prospectsby Alex Kielar February 8, 2022 0 comments
The Miami Marlins have a very young and hopeful team with plenty of other young talent on the way. The holes the team has can be filled by some promising young prospects in their system. A number of them are also likely to be up as soon as this season or within a year or two. The future of the Marlins’ pitching staff looks very bright as a handful of their top prospects are quality pitchers. After completely gutting the team just a few years ago, the Derek Jeter-led team could be on the verge of turning the ship around. Without further ado, let’s dive into Miami’s top five prospects.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Max Meyer, RHP
After being drafted third overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, Meyer flew up the Marlins’ system in 2021. The right-hander utilized his dominant fastball-slider combo and continued development of his changeup to put up impressive numbers. He began the season in Double-A and started 20 games before getting called up to Triple-A Jacksonville on September 24. In his 22 starts overall, the Minnesota alum posted an impressive 3.61 xFIP and a 10.07 strikeout per nine rate.
Meyer has one of the nastiest sliders in the game as it is a wipeout pitch that reaches the low 90s and makes it look like he’s throwing a wiffle ball. Going into the draft, the pitch was one of the best sliders anyone had seen in years. Along with that, his fastball sits at 93-97 mph and can reach 100 while blowing by bats. The added feel for his changeup only adds another option in his already impressive repertoire. It sits in the mid-80s and has solid fade. While his size was a concern, at six feet tall, he quickly showed the baseball world it won’t be a problem. Meyer is a true competitor with filthy stuff, a repeatable delivery, and a feel for the zone. He will start the season in Triple-A and with continued dominance should fit right into the rotation before long.
2. Kahlil Watson, SS
Watson was one of the top high school prospects in the 2021 draft after a tremendous senior season at Wake Forest High School in North Carolina. The Marlins wound up getting a steal as they took him with the 16th overall pick after he was being projected as a top-five pick. Miami dished out the largest bonus they’ve ever given to a high school position player, at $4,540,790. Watson plays up to his 5-foot-9, 178-pound stature as he has a great bat from the left side while having plenty of raw power. He has a history of making hard contact consistently and isn’t known to chase out of the zone. Outside of the bat, the tools are oozing off of the soon to 19-year-old, as he has game-changing speed and has the athleticism and arm strength to stick at shortstop.
Through nine games in the Florida Complex League (FCL), Watson posted a .394/.524/.606 triple slash with five extra-base hits, four stolen bases, and eight walks to seven strikeouts. He has the offensive upside and athleticism to profile at any position, so the Marlins could move him off shortstop if needed. After getting his first taste of pro ball, Watson should start the 2022 season at Low-A Jupiter and could move up quickly with solid play.
3. Edward Cabrera, RHP
Despite having a shaky major league debut, Cabrera had a solid 2021 in the minor leagues overall. After signing with the Marlins in 2015 for $100,000 out of the Dominican Republic, the right-hander has gradually worked his way up the system. He made big strides in 2019 showcasing his electric stuff. He posted a 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and a 116 to 31 strikeout to walk rate over 19 starts between High-A and Double-A.
Then in 2021, Cabrera pitched across three minor league levels while recording a 2.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 92 strikeouts in 13 starts. He utilized an electric high-90s fastball and improved changeup and slider combination. That has quieted the talk that he might move to the bullpen. His strikeout rate has only gone up and has shown the ability to control the zone with impressive stuff. He will compete for a rotation spot in the majors this season but will be competing with a lot of solid arms.
4. Eury Perez, RHP
The Marlins signed Perez out of the Dominican Republic for $200,000 in July 2019 and the pandemic caused him to not make his pro debut until last year. When he was able to make his debut, he did not disappoint as he was a fast riser in the system. After operating with a mid-80s fastball while in the Dominican, the right-hander was able to reach mid-90s and top out at 97. At 6’8″ he still has a very projectable frame and has a repeatable delivery to go along with the solid stuff. On top of the fastball, Perez works with a power curve and a changeup that flashes plus potential. With this stuff, he had a 37 percent strikeout rate and sported a 1.96 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 20 starts across Low-A and High-A.
Perez is likely to start the year back in High-A and could rise quickly with furthered development of his changeup. He wasn’t fazed by facing older players at the instructional league, so his mound presence is that of a mid-rotation starter. Only turning just 19 in April, the Marlins will be patient with him, but he could be up in the majors within two years.
5. JJ Bleday, OF
Bleday was drafted fourth overall in the 2019 MLB Draft after leading Vanderbilt to a College World Series championship. The Marlins sent him to High-A for his pro debut before moving him to Double-A last year. It was a very slow start to his season after the missed minor league season in 2020. Through the first four months, he had just a .201/.319/.369 slash line with 11 homers, 43 RBI, 58 walks, and 86 strikeouts. But he finished off strong, slashing .311/.382/.444 with one homer and 11 RBI in September. That carried over to the Arizona Fall League as he put a .316/.435/.600 line with five homers in 24 games. His performance earned him a spot in the Fall Stars Game, in which he was named the MVP after going 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI.
Bleday will need to work on cutting down on his 21.6 percent strikeout rate from last year. But he did show the ability to get on base at a high clip, especially towards the end of 2021. Defense is his strong suit, as he can play all three outfield positions and has a solid glove with range. The 24-year-old will need to prove himself at Double-A before moving up to Triple-A and turning into the advanced hitter the Marlins thought he was when they drafted him.
What Does the Future Hold?
Sixto Sanchez is another top arm to watch out for, but injuries have slowed him down. He had surgery to repair a capsular tear and clean out the backside of his right shoulder but should be ready for Opening Day. The Marlins will certainly make sure he is 100 percent before putting him on a normal workload. The future for Sanchez is far too important to rush him back. Southpaw Jake Eder underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of last season and won’t be back until 2023. Another guy to watch for is catcher Joe Mack who was a top catching prospect in 2021. He could develop into a very solid offensive catcher on top of being great behind the dish. An extra bonus is that he has the perfect baseball name.
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