With the exception of Triple A Jacksonville and the Dominican Summer League, both of which have 10 games left to play, the 2021 minor-league season has come to an end for Miami Marlins affiliates.
There were a lot of success stories and a few bumps in the road as well but just having a full minor-league season after most prospects had to sit out last season all together due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the most important thing.
Here’s how each of the Marlins’ top prospects fared this season. The rankings listed are based on the current rankings by MLB Pipeline.
▪ Shortstop Kahlil Watson (Marlins No. 1, MLB No. 28): .394 batting average (13 for 33), 1.130 OPS, three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, four stolen bases.
We’ll start with the obvious caveat here: Watson’s pro ball sample size is small. He played in just nine games after the Marlins selected him 14th overall in the 2021 MLB Draft. There’s a lot to like, a mix of speed and power on offense and potential to be solid defensively at shortstop.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Edward Cabrera (Marlins No. 2, MLB No. 30): 3-4, 2.93 ERA, 92 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings in MiLB; 0-2, 5.31 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings in MLB
After being sidelined early with biceps nerve inflammation, Cabrera finally made his long-awaited MLB debut on Aug. 25 after a strong showing in the minors. He’s faced some hiccups so far in the big leagues, pitching four innings or fewer in each of his last four starts, but Cabrera has the stuff (a fastball that hits triple digits, a power changeup and a slider that induces swings and misses) to be a key piece in the Marlins’ rotation.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Max Meyer (Marlins No. 3, MLB No. 31): 20 starts, 6-3 record, 2.41 ERA, 113 strikeouts vs 40 walks in 101 innings
The Marlins’ 2020 first-round pick dazzled in his first season of pro ball, all played with Double A Pensacola. Meyer had the lowest ERA among pitchers in all of Double A and had the sixth most strikeouts among pitchers at the level.
Meyer is expected to join Triple A Jacksonville to finish the minor-league season.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez (Marlins No. 4, MLB No. 42): No stats.
Sanchez did not throw a pitch in an official game this year, injuring his throwing shoulder during an intrasquad game and ultimately undergoing season-ending surgery.
▪ Outfielder JJ Bleday (Marlins No. 5, MLB No. 72): .212 batting average, .695 OPS, 12 home runs, 54 RBI, 52 runs scored, 101 strikeouts, 64 walks in 468 plate appearances
The stat line is not one the Marlins wanted to see from Bleday, their first-round pick in 2019 and someone they hope to be a cornerstone in their outfield in the not-so-distant future. While there were occasional streaks of success, Bleday’s batting average hovered around the .200 mark essentially all season, never getting above .216 after the first week of the season. Offseason adjustments will be critical for him moving into 2022.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Eury Perez (Marlins No. 6): 20 starts, 3-5 record, 1.96 ERA, 108 strikeouts vs 26 walks in 78 innings
What a surprise Perez was this season. The 6-8 18-year-old played competition older than him all year during his first season of pro ball and was nothing short of spectacular. His fastball hits 97 and he has a feel for both his changeup and curveball. The Marlins were cautious with him (and most pitchers) when it came to innings pitched. Perez never threw more than five innings in a start this year. It’ll be interesting to watch how he fares next year when the Marlins allow him to go deeper into games.
▪ Left-handed pitcher Jake Eder (Marlins No. 7): 15 starts, 3-5 record, 1.77 ERA, 99 strikeouts vs 27 walks in 77 1/3 innings
Eder dominated in Double A before an elbow injury that required season-ending Tommy John surgery. He will miss the 2022 season.
▪ Catcher Joe Mack (Marlins No. 8): .132 batting average (7 for 53), one double, one home run, two RBI, 20 walks, nine runs scored
Like Watson, Mack’s sample size is too small to make any marquee judgments, but the walk rate 26.7 percent) definitely stands out. Whether that’s pure discipline or just the competition level at the Florida Complex League remains to be seen. He also caught six of 14 potential basestealers behind the plate.
▪ Left-handed pitcher Dax Fulton (Marlins No. 9): 20 games (19 starts), 2-5 record, 4.60 ERA, 84 strikeouts vs 38 walks in 78 1/3 innings
Fulton, 19, was playing his first live baseball since undergoing Tommy John surgery as a senior in high school. The goal this year was for him to simply make all of his starts and get to the offseason healthy. There were struggles at times, but he also flashed his potential over stretches, which earned him a promotion to Class A Advanced Beloit for the final month of the minor-league season.
▪ Shortstop Jose Salas (Marlins No. 10): .305 average, .796 OPS, 14 doubles, 19 RBI, 26 runs scored in 230 plate appearances
Salas, the Marlins’ main signing in the 2019 international free agent class, ended the year in Class A Jupiter after a strong showing in the rookie-level Florida Complex League. The 18-year-old switch hitter is solid defensively and held his own in his month with the Hammerheads to close out the season, recording at least one hit in 21 of 27 games.
▪ Left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett (Marlins No. 11): 16 MiLB starts, 3.87 ERA, 77 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings; 8 MLB appearances (7 starts), 5.03 ERA, 32 strikeouts in 34 innings
Garrett bounced between the Marlins and Triple A Jacksonville often during the season, providing spot starts when needed as Miami dealt with rotation injuries.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Nick Neidert (Marlins No. 12): 12 MiLB appearances (11 starts), 3.32 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings; 8 MLB appearances (7 starts), 4.54 ERA, 21 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings
Neidert, like Garrett, bounced between MLB and Triple A. He was solid at times when the Marlins needed him, but is primarily a depth piece when it comes to starting pitching.
▪ Shortstop Nasim Nunez (Marlins No. 13): .243 batting average, 33 stolen bases, 33 runs scored in 228 plate appearances
Nunez is a Gold Glove-caliber defender and a phenom on the basepaths, but he missed significant time down the stretch, with his final game for Class A Jupiter coming on July 28.
▪ Outfielder Peyton Burdick (Marlins No. 14): .231 batting average, .848 OPS, 23 home runs, 52 RBI, 71 runs scored
Burdick struggled early in Double A, with his batting average dipping to .077 after the first two weeks. The outfielder hit .249 the rest of the way, setting the Blue Wahoos single-season records for home runs (23) and walks (76) along the way.
Burdick is expected to join Triple A Jacksonville to finish the minor-league season.
▪ Middle Infielder Yiddi Cappe (Marlins No. 15): .252 batting average, two home runs, 13 doubles, 24 RBI, 26 runs scored
Cappe, 19 years old and Miami’s top signing in the latest international free agent class, spent his first season with the Marlins’ Dominican Summer League affiliate. He safely reached base in 31 of 46 games he played and had 12 multi-hit outings.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas (Marlins No. 16): 21 appearances (20 starts), 6-4 record, 4.18 ERA, 136 strikeouts vs 49 walks in 99 innings
Nicolas, the Marlins’ competitive balance pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, split time between Class A Advanced Beloit and Double A Pensacola and got better as the season progressed. He had a 2.52 ERA in eight Double A starts with 50 strikeouts and a .167 batting average against in 39 1/3 innings at the level.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Zach McCambley (Marlins No. 17): 20 starts, 3-10 record, 4.36 ERA, 120 strikeouts vs 26 walks in 97 innings
The strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.62 to 1) is great and the highlight of McCambley’s first pro ball season. He had a few flashes — the seven perfect innings in his second start for Beloit comes to mind — but he went through several steps of growing pains throughout the season as well.
▪ Outfielder Victor Mesa Jr. (Marlins No. 18): .266 batting average, .718 OPS, 5 home runs, 71 RBI, 66 runs scored
Mesa spent his second pro ball season as a middle-of-the-order bat for Class A Jupiter. There were a few slumps mixed into the season, but it was an overall productive one for the 20 year old. He showcased his bat-to-ball skills, his power (37 extra-base hits) and can hold his own defensively.
▪ Infielder Cody Morissette (Marlins No. 19): .204 batting average, .607 OPS, 10 RBI, 22 runs scored
The Marlins’ second-round pick from the 2021 MLB Draft played second base, third base and shortstop over his 34 games for Class A Jupiter. He was a steady hitter at Boston College and has a good approach at the plate.
▪ Infielder Jordan McCants (Marlins No. 20): .224 batting average (17 for 76), four RBI, 10 runs scored
The Marlins’ third-round pick only appeared in 23 games at the rookie-level Florida Complex League. He’s a 19-year-old shortstop who hits lefty.
▪ Outfielder Griffin Conine (Marlins No. 21): .218 batting average, 36 home runs, 84 RBI, 63 runs scored
It was feast or famine for Conine in 2021. His 36 home runs between his time in Beloit and Pensacola were the second most in minor-league baseball, which is great. But his 185 strikeouts in 461 plate appearances, a 40.1 percent K rate... not so great.
▪ Outfielder Kameron Misner (Marlins No. 22): .253 batting average, .788 OPS, 12 home runs, 59 RBI, 70 runs scored
Misner closed the season on about a big of a high note as he could. Between the end of his time in Beloit and his time in Pensacola, Misner reached base in 36 of his final 38 games, hitting .313 with a .942 OPS in that span. He’s an above average defender in the outfield as well
▪ Outfielder Connor Scott (Marlins No. 23): .276 batting average, 10 home runs, 46 RBI, 80 runs scored, 14 stolen bases in 96 games for Class A Advanced Beloit.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Evan Fitterer (Marlins No. 24): 9 games (8 starts), 4.15 ERA, 33 strikeouts vs 10 walks in 30 1/3 innings. His last seven appearances were with Jupiter after starting in the Florida Complex League.
▪ Infielder Osiris Johnson (Marlins No. 25): .219 batting average, 11 home runs, 55 RBI, 57 runs scored in 92 games (27 in the Florida Complex League, 65 with Jupiter).
▪ Infielder Ian Lewis (Marlins No. 26): .302 batting average, three home runs, 27 RBI, 24 runs scored, nine stolen bases in 43 Florida Complex League games.
▪ Outfielder/first baseman Jerar Encarnacion (Marlins No. 27): .221 batting average, nine home runs, 29 RBI, 25 runs scored in 65 games primarily with Double A Pensacola. Missed significant time with injury.
▪ Outfielder Tanner Allen (Marlins No. 28): .183 batting average, two home runs, 10 RBI, 16 runs scored in 33 games (mostly with Jupiter) after being selected in the fourth round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
▪ Infielder Cristhian Rodriguez (Marlins No. 29): .218 batting average, 18 RBI, 20 runs scored in 64 Florida Complex League Games.
▪ Catcher Payton Henry (Marlins No. 30): .188 batting average, four home runs, eight RBI, seven runs scored in 22 games with Triple A Jacksonville after joining the Marlins following a July 30 trade. Henry made his MLB debut on Friday.