Jacob Berry had just one at-bat during Monday’s scrimmage between Miami Marlins minor league players on the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium backfields, but he made it count. Batting from the left side against Justin Evans—a reliever five years older than him who finished last season with Double-A Pensacola—Berry showed patience at the plate before singling through the right side.
Before reporting to major league camp on Tuesday, the 21-year-old non-roster invitee had been playing in scrimmages like this daily to get tuned up for his first full-length professional season. “It’s been really beneficial,” Berry said.
“I think this year is kinda my first year. I don’t know if I have any expectations at all. I think I just want to learn and kind of see where I match up against guys and see where I need to get better in everything that I do and see what guys do successfully so I can do that in the future.”
Berry enters 2023 as a consensus top-10 prospect in the Marlins organization. He was recently ranked the 61st overall MLB prospect by MLB Pipeline and 106th overall by FanGraphs. The biggest concern moving forward is where he fits on the defensive spectrum.
Berry only played third base with Low-A Jupiter in 2022 and that’s where he was on Monday. He made one bad throw during the scrimmage, which resulted in extra bases for the hitter, but otherwise looked alright. He also participated in defensive drills with the big leaguers, making the routine plays with the exception of bobbling a ground ball.
“Felt good, still early,” Berry said about his defense. “We got a long, long, long season left ahead of us and I’m excited to play wherever they put me.”
The Grapefruit League begins this weekend and Berry is expected to get occasional playing time while everyday infielders Jean Segura and Luis Arraez are away at the World Baseball Classic. He’ll likely be reassigned to minor league camp as soon as they return and he still has a lot to prove during the MiLB regular season, but I am excited to see what Berry has got. I am higher on him now than I was before my stay in Jupiter this week.
Berry is going to use the upcoming season to “figure out who I am as a player. I think I know who I am as a player, but I’m kinda excited to see how it is in my first year of pro ball.”
Click below to listen to the full interview with Berry.