JJ Bleday represents a big part of the Marlins’ future. For at least a little while, he will also represent part of the club’s Major League present.
Last year’s fourth overall pick will head to Major League Spring Training camp as a Marlins non-roster invitee, the organization announced Tuesday. He is joined by first-rounders Braxton Garrett (2016) and Trevor Rogers (2017) on Miami’s list of 14 non-roster invitees.
Ranked as MLB.com’s No. 29 overall prospect at the end of the 2019 season, Bleday used a power surge in his junior year at Vanderbilt to launch himself into the top five of the 2019 Draft. The left-handed slugger led all Division I hitters with 27 homers and hit .347/.465/.701 line over 71 games. He had gone deep only six times in his previous two campaigns in Nashville and hadn’t slugged above .600 in either season, never mind .700. Bleday signed with the Marlins for $6.67 million, $6,000 above the slot value for the fourth overall pick.
Because of the 22-year-old outfielder’s college pedigree, the Marlins assigned Bleday to Class A Advanced Jupiter and kept him there for the duration of his first Minor League season. Bleday hit .257/.311/.379 with three homers in 38 games during his limited spin through the Florida State League.
Bleday earns high marks for his hit and power tools, and his arm is also considered a plus. He played right field exclusively last season in the Minors.
Both Garrett and Rogers, who were ranked seventh and eighth in the Miami system, respectively, at the end of 2019, will be building off their best pro seasons, also spent mostly in the FSL. Garrett posted a 3.34 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 105 innings with Jupiter before making one start at Double-A Jacksonville. Rogers was named an FSL mid-season and end-of-season All-Star with Jupiter and finished with a 2.53 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 122 K’s in 110 1/3 innings with the Class A Advanced club. He also made five starts for Jacksonville, where he had a 4.50 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 26 frames.
Other ranked Marlins prospects to receive non-roster invites Tuesday are No. 10 Jose Devers, No. 13 Victor Victor Mesa, No. 17 Jerar Encarnacion and No. 25 Brian Miller. The other Minor Leaguers on the list are left-handers Daniel Castano, Dylan Lee and Alex Vesia; right-handers Ryan Cook and Tommy Eveld; switch-thrower Pat Venditte and infielder Eddy Alvarez.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.