Marlins’ Double A affiliate clinches playoff spot and more prospect highlights from June

Nino Mendez/Courtesy of Pensacola Blue Wahoos
·4 min read

While the Miami Marlins are on the outside looking in of the playoff race, entering Monday six games out of the final wild card spot in the National League, one of the organization’s minor-league affiliate has already clinched a postseason berth.

The Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos finished the first half of their season with the best record in the Southern League’s South Division at 35-29.

For Double A, High A and Single A, four teams per league advance to the playoffs in a best-of-3 division series, followed by a best-of-3 championship series. Each of the minor-league levels has three leagues, meaning 12 total teams from each level reaches the playoffs.

The four participants per league will be the winners of each division from both halves based on the best winning percentage of each half. In the event the same club wins both halves, the club with the next best full-season winning percentage in that division will advance.

Five of the Marlins’ top-30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline currently play for the Blue Wahoos: Right-handed pitcher Eury Perez (No. 3), right-handed pitcher Zach McCambley (No. 14), first baseman/outfielder Troy Johnston (No. 23), outfielder Griffin Conine (No. 24) and left-handed pitcher Josh Simpson (No. 30). Outfielder Jerar Encarnacion (No. 20), right-handed pitcher George Soriano (No. 25) and right-handed pitcher Bryan Hoeing (No. 27) also began the season in Pensacola before moving up to Triple A Jacksonville. Encarnacion also made his MLB debut this season.

Johnston leads Blue Wahoos hitters with a .297 batting average to go along with eight home runs, 41 RBI and 34 runs scored. Conine leads the team with 13 home runs and 42 RBI. The Blue Wahoos offense also received key contributions from catcher/designated hitter Paul McIntosh (.898 on-base-plus slugging, 17 doubles, eight home runs, 35 RBI).

On the mound, Perez has found consistent success after three rough starts to begin the season while playing against competition much older than him. The 19-year-old has a 2.08 ERA and .168 batting average against with 51 strikeouts against six walks over his past eight starts. He has allowed no more than two earned runs in each of those outings while pitching at least five innings in six of the eight contests.

More top prospect notables

Right-handed pitcher Max Meyer, Miami’s second-ranked prospect, struck out five and allowed one run on one hit — a solo home run — over four innings Wednesday in his first start for Triple A Jacksonville since being sidelined with right ulnar nerve irritation last month.

Outfielder JJ Bleday, ranked No. 4 in Miami’s system, has hit seven home runs in June and is up to 15 home runs on the season with Triple A Jacksonville. He is slugging .557 with a .932 OPS in 22 games this month.

Shortstop Nasim Nunez, the Marlins’ No. 17-ranked prospect known primarily for his top-end defense and speed on the basepaths, is hitting .290 (20 for 69) in June for the High A Beloit Sky Carp with a .872 on-base-plus slugging percentage and six extra-base hits.

Five of those extra-base hits came in his past three games. Nunez recorded his first career four-hit game on Friday, which included a double, a triple, three RBI, two stolen bases and a run scored. He hit another triple on Saturday before going 3-for-5 on Sunday in an outing that included another double and his first career home run.

Nunez has 30 stolen bases on the season, the fourth-most in High A and 10th-most overall in the minor leagues.

Another position player making a statement in June with the Sky Carp: Infielder Cody Morissette. The Marlins’ second-round pick in the 2021 draft has hit six home runs over 22 games this month after having just seven total home runs over his first 75 career minor-league games. Morissette also leads Beloit hitters with 43 RBI and 41 runs scored this season.

Infielder Jose Salas, Miami’s seventh-ranked prospect, leads Single A Jupiter Hammerheads regulars this month in batting average (.338), on-base percentage (.435), slugging (.535), OPS (.970), RBI (13), doubles (six), home runs (two), runs scored (16) and stolen bases (six).