The Miami Marlins saw three of their top-10 prospects take the field for their Triple-A affiliate, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, on Tuesday night. Max Meyer (No. 3 prospect) toed the rubber, while JJ Bleday (No. 6) and Peyton Burdick (No. 10) roamed the outfield. Bleday, it should be noted, got the start in center field, a position of question for the big club.
The Jumbo Shrimp dropped their opener 6-5 to the Worcester Red Sox, in front of 5,907 fans at 121 Financial Ballpark in Jacksonville. Despite the loss, the Marlins should come away happy with what they saw, especially from Meyer. Bleday and Burdick both struggled at the plate but played well defensively.
Meyer Looks Good in His First Start of 2022
Meyer enters the 2022 season as MLB Pipeline’s No. 35 prospect overall. The 23-year-old righty impressed with his work this spring, including pitching four perfect frames with five strikeouts in his lone Grapefruit League outing.
Meyer headlines the Marlins prospects in Jacksonville this season and started the 2022 campaign with a solid effort. He retired the first six batters he faced before running into a bit of trouble in the third inning. He surrendered a single to WooSox catcher Conner Wong, who stole second following Meyer’s strikeout of Ryan Fitzgerald. Wong took third on a ground out, then scored on a wild pitch.
Jumbo Shrimp catcher Alex Jackson, who spent time with the Marlins following the trade deadline last season, couldn’t handle Meyer’s slider in the dirt and it skipped past him, allowing Wong to score.
In the fourth inning, Meyer pitched himself into and out of a jam, surrendering just one earned run in the process. He started the frame with a strikeout of Jeter Downs, then hit Triston Casas in the foot on an 0-2 count. Meyer walked the next batter, then surrendered an RBI single to Franchy Cordero, who seemed to be sitting on Meyer’s slider in a 2-1 count.
With runners at the corners and one out, Meyer nearly threw the ball away twice on pick-off attempts, but Lewin Diaz handled the throws. Meyer finished the inning with a strikeout of Christian Stewart and a ground out of Wong.
Meyer finished his first start with five strikeouts, allowing two runs on two hits, with a hit-batsman and a walk. He consistently hit the upper 90s with his fastball and settled around 92 with his slider. Meyer threw 69 pitches, 43 for strikes, including 16 swing-and-misses.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 6, 2022
Meyer Handles Red Sox’s Top Prospects
The Marlins lineup in Jacksonville featured three of their top prospects, and the Red Sox countered with the same. The Worcester lineup sported 1B Triston Casas (No. 2 for BOS, No. 16 overall), OF Jarren Duran (BOS No. 4, MLB No. 85), and SS Jeter Downs (BOS No. 6).
The WooSox lineup went Duran-Downs-Casas to start, and Meyer handled each with relative ease. He worked a clean first inning, getting Duran to ground out, striking out Downs after falling behind 3-1 in the count, and inducing a Casas fly out.
1-2-3 inning for Max Meyer vs Worcester Red Sox in the first. Jarren Duran (53), Jeter Downs (K) and Triston Casas (F7). Up to 97 MPH with his fastball. pic.twitter.com/QkUMaNTXMi
— Yordano Carmona (@YordiMLB) April 5, 2022
Meyer retired Duran and Downs in their second at-bats as well, but hit Casas in his second AB. Meyer was ahead of Casas 0-2 in the count and tried what looked like a changeup which struck Casas in the foot. While both his fastball and slider are Major League-ready, Meyer continues to work on that changeup.
Boston’s top three prospects went 0-5 with six whiffs, two strikeouts, and an HBP against Meyer, who could get another turn against Worcester on Sunday. Meyer made two starts for Jacksonville late last season, posting a 0.90 ERA with 17 strikeouts over 10 innings pitched.
Other Marlins Prospects in Jacksonville Quiet in Opener
The two other top-10 Marlins prospects in Jacksonville, Bleday and Burdick, didn’t fare as well. Burdick hit second in the order and Bleday fifth, with the pair finishing 0-5 combined. They did reach base three times, though, with Burdick scoring on Lewin Diaz’s third-inning double.
Bleday opened his 2022 season with a hit-by-pitch, a riding fastball that came up-and-in. He took the hit on his upper back and seemed fine afterward. In his second at-bat, Bleday flew out to center on a 2-2 count after fouling off a pair of pitches. In the sixth, he popped out to the second baseman on the first pitch following Lorenzo Quintana’s two-run home run. He walked in his final AB of the night.
Bleday started in centerfield, and looked comfortable out there. Jacksonville’s 121 Financial Ballpark sports a 420-foot depth in center, making it the deepest ballpark in the International League by a considerable margin. For reference, loanDepot Park is 400 to center and 386 to left-center.
Bryan De La Cruz seemed slated to start in center for Jacksonville following his option to Triple-A in late March. But De La Cruz was not with the Jumbo Shrimp on Tuesday, despite being on their roster. With reports that Roman Quinn was not expected to make the team, De La Cruz could start the year as Miami’s fourth outfielder, considering he’s already on the 40-man roster.
Burdick struggled most of the Marlins’ top prospects in Jacksonville. He struck out swinging in his first at-bat, walked, then struck out twice more, including with the tying run on second base and two outs in the seventh inning.
Other Notable Names
The other notable Marlins prospects in Jacksonville included Isan Diaz and Lewin Diaz. Isan started at second base over Bryson Brigman (who entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth). Isan played well defensively, but struck out in all four plate appearances, including twice looking at a called strike three.
Lewin, meanwhile, finished 2-for-4 with a two-run double and a run scored. He was credited for a hit in the sixth on a pop-up that dropped between Worcester’s pitcher and catcher. Lewin played solid defense at first, including handling a pair of errant pick-off throws from Meyer.
The Jumbo Shrimp received a jolt in their lineup from a pair of minor league journeymen, Charles LeBlanc and Lorenzo Quintana. LeBlanc homered and doubled in his Jacksonville debut. The 25-year-old was claimed by the Marlins off waivers from the Texas Rangers organization and started at third base Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Quintana split time between Jacksonville and Houston’s Triple-A affiliate, Sugar Land, last season. Quintana impressed this spring with the Marlins, hitting .333 with a homer, three doubles, and five RBI over eight Grapefruit League games.
Quintana went 1-4 on Tuesday night, with his sixth-inning homer cutting the Jumbo Shrimp deficit to 6-5.
Lorenzo Quintana's 🚀 pulls us within one! pic.twitter.com/I0zhVDlTeh
— Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (@JaxShrimp) April 6, 2022
Jacksonville sends left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett (the Marlins’ No. 21 prospect) to the mound on Wednesday.
Edward Cabrera Not Among the Marlins Prospects in Jacksonville
Right-hander Edward Cabrera ranks as the No. 34 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline and seems ready to contribute to this current Marlins roster, especially following his impressive showing in his lone Grapefruit League start this spring. That said, the Marlins optioned the 23-year-old to Jacksonville in late March.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly wanted Cabrera to continue refining his two-seam fastball, as well as work on locating his breaking balls. A visa issue delayed Cabrera’s start to Spring Training, which likely contributed to his option.
“He’s a guy you could say, ‘You can put him out there and he’s going to be competitive, and it’s going to look OK,’ but there’s development left for him,” Mattingly said late last month.
But on Tuesday, Cabrera was not among the pitchers listed on Jacksonville’s roster, nor was he among the Jumbo Shrimp players introduced on Opening Night.
Elieser Hernandez got hit with a comebacker and exited the team’s last Spring Training game, leading to speculation he may land on the injured list. While reports suggest Hernandez dodged serious injury, the 26-year-old was diagnosed with a forearm contusion.
Cabrera stands among six pitchers on Miami’s 40-man roster currently listed in the minors. He wasn’t among the Marlins prospects in Jacksonville on Tuesday, and Garrett is slated to start tonight for the Jumbo Shrimp. Paul Campbell pitched (poorly) yesterday. Jordan Holloway is on the 40-man and the Jax roster. The others are relievers Tommy Nance and Zach Pop.
There’s a chance Cabrera’s been sent to extended spring training, or he could get a start in the lower minors in an effort to build up his arm. Or maybe he’s getting Hernandez’s spot in the rotation. If Cabrera gets a rotation spot, Hernandez could eventually end up in the Marlins’ rebuilt bullpen.
— Man On Second Baseball (@ManOn2nd) April 5, 2022