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Get to know the 2023 Non-Roster Invitees

Which of these players has the best chance to make it onto the Opening Day roster?

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.

Top Prospects

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.

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.

Other Prospects

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.

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.

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.

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).

Other Names

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.

The five catchers invited as NRIs are Paul McIntosh, Will Banfield, Santiago Chávez, Austin Allen and Jan Mercado.