On Wednesday, the Miami Marlins announced they would bring 27 non-roster invitees to their major league spring training camp (a 28th NRI, Daniel Castano, received his invite on Thursday). Highlighted by top prospects Eury Pérez, Dax Fulton, and Jacob Berry, the Marlins also brought in some minor-league free agents to compete for Opening Day roster spots.
The biggest name of the top prospects is starter Eury Pérez. Due to Sandy Alcantara, Jesús Luzardo, and Johnny Cueto all likely participating in the World Baseball Classic, Eury will get opportunities to face MLB opponents at age 19.
In 2022 for AA Pensacola, Eury had a 4.08 ERA in 18 games with a great strikeout rate (34.1 K%). He is very familiar with Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium because it was Jupiter’s home ballpark when he starred for the Hammerheads in 2021.
The chances that we see him make the Marlins Opening Day roster are slim, but he should be motivated to show that he can keep up with the best of the best, putting himself in the conversation to get called up very early in the season.
Dax Fulton can also be expected to make a few starts due to the WBC absences of veteran arms. He is still extremely young, but what he has shown so far is just dominant. Fulton finished 2022 on a great note with a 2.57 ERA in 21 regular season innings for Pensacola, followed by a 13-strikeout playoff game.
Dax is only 21 and still has a long way to go. Expect him to be reassigned to minor league camp once the WBC is over.
Dax Fulton (@FultonDaxton) just tallied a career high in strikeouts in an elimination playoff game for @BlueWahoosBBall.— Fish on the Farm (@marlinsminors) September 24, 2022
Here is how he ended his night against former #Marlins prospect Kam Misner.
6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 13 K.
Jacob Berry was the latest top draft pick for the Marlins and it is fair to say that he has not lived up to the hype so far. Berry slashed .264/.358/.392/.750/3 HR/24 RBI in Low-A and mainly played third base.
I am intrigued to find out where the Marlins play Berry with an infield that is extremely crowded at the moment. First base is a position of need right now at all levels of the organization, so being able to see Berry play some first base would be something I would like to see.
Nasim Nuñez was one of the most improved players in the Marlins system last season. His shortstop defense is regarded as the best in the organization, and his offense is starting to catch up. Nuñez reached base more than any other Marlins prospect, got 70 steals and even showed a little power (two home runs).
Although I expect him to have a nice showing in Spring, he has to wait his turn behind the infielders on Miami’s 40-man roster like Jacob Amaya and Jordan Groshans.
Troy Johnston was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, went unselected and is now sticking with the team through Spring Training. Johnston was one of the hottest hitters in Minor League Baseball in the middle of 2022. With the Marlins lacking depth at first base behind Garrett Cooper, Johnston may actually have a shot to make the roster if he performs well enough.
Since beginning his professional career as an undrafted free agent, Paul McIntosh has emerged as one of the better hitters in the Marlins system. Although his defense behind the plate is a little bit questionable, his bat makes up for it. He makes hard contact to all fields. Expect him to be playing a lot of first base in spring training when he isn’t behind the plate.
Another player who had his season cut short due to injuries was catcher Paul McIntosh, but man was he playing well.— Kevin Barral (@kevin_barral) January 20, 2023
AA: .258 BA, .379 OBP, .465 SLG, .844 OBP, 13 HR, 66 RBI, 14.4% BB, 19.6% K#Marlins pic.twitter.com/2DLc04VtKO
Brian Miller debuted in 2021 for the Marlins and had barely any action with the team. He is a quick and versatile outfielder who deserves a chance in the bigs. Miller can play a solid center field and the Marlins need a solid backup plan on the roster in case the Jazz Chisholm Jr. position change doesn’t go well.
One of the Marlins’ acquisitions this offseason was outfielder Jake Mangum who had a .306/.363/.441/.804/4 HR/35 RBI in 2022 with the New York Mets AAA affiliate. Mangum is a primary center fielder. Mangum should be able to provide some nice depth if he makes the team and will be a player to look out for as spring training develops.
Minor League Signings
Most years, we see at least one MiLB signing crack the Opening Day roster. Those who don’t can report to AAA and contribute later in the season.
The most recent Marlins signing was former Minnesota Twin left-hander Devin Smeltzer, who is actually on a split contract ($1M salary in the majors). Learn more about him by listening to the first segment of this week’s episode of The Offishial Show.
Some video of new #Marlins signing Devin Smeltzer. This is his 4-seam fastball for the ones wondering.— Kevin Barral (@kevin_barral) January 25, 2023
I think this is a name that we need to look at closely as Spring Training goes on. Had a nice season in 2022 despite a 5.23 FIP. pic.twitter.com/Dbbuq3zSCF
The last time that Enrique Burgos pitched on a major league mound was in 2016, but Burgos has had encouraging outings overseas to put himself back on the map. Expect Burgos to get some good looks during spring training. He has ties to Marlins bench coach Luis Urueta from their days in Arizona. Also, Urueta managed Burgos in the D.R. last winter with Gigantes del Cibao.
Another signing that caught my eye was reliever Enrique Burgos who had an amazing season with the Gigantes del Cibao as he posted a 0.00 ERA in 15.0 IP and then in 2022 he posted a 2.42 ERA in Mexico. When he was with the Diamondbacks his bench coach was Luis Urueta. #Marlins pic.twitter.com/uKQV6XHbN3— Kevin Barral (@kevin_barral) January 25, 2023
Looking at the position player side, the most notable player is former Rockies utility man Garrett Hampson. Being able to play both center field and shortstop is a big reason why he is a Marlin. He has similarities to former Marlin Luke Williams, with more speed and defensive upside, but a less reliable bat (.211/.287/.307/.594/2 HR/15 RBI in 2022).
Charles Leblanc passed through waivers and will be a part of big league camp as he should have originally been. Slashing .263/.320/.404/.723/4 HR/11 RBI, Leblanc made a good first impression at the MLB level, but as Craig Mish mentioned on Fish Stripes Unfiltered, “They just aren’t huge believers in Charles Leblanc.”
Dan Castano is in the same situation after clearing waivers on Thursday. He was arguably having his best season with the Fish before suffering a concussion and shoulder injury. Castano is a nice depth piece to have as a spot starter/long reliever.
Charles Leblanc has two doubles in his first five MLB ABs. He also just scored his first run.— Fish on the Farm (@marlinsminors) July 31, 2022
102.2 mph exit velo, 385 feet. It would have been a home run in 23 ballparks.#Marlins pic.twitter.com/FDQGugPigM
The five catchers invited as NRIs are Paul McIntosh, Will Banfield, Santiago Chávez, Austin Allen and Jan Mercado.