Blue Wahoos Will Be Well-Represented At Miami Marlins Spring Training Camp
The Blue Wahoos will have a significant presence when the Miami Marlins officially begin spring training in two weeks. Nearly half of the 67 players currently set for the big league camp have worn a Blue Wahoos uniform. This includes 14 of the 27 non-roster player invitees announced Jan. 25,
The Blue Wahoos will have a significant presence when the Miami Marlins officially begin spring training in two weeks.
Nearly half of the 67 players currently set for the big league camp have worn a Blue Wahoos uniform. This includes 14 of the 27 non-roster player invitees announced Jan. 25, along with 12 players on the Marlins’ 40-man roster and four veteran MLB players on the Marlins who played in Pensacola on injury rehab assignments.
That non-roster group is led by 19-year-old, wunderkind pitcher Eury Perez, who dazzled Blue Wahoos fans in 2022 and rose to the become the No. 1 prospect in the Marlins organization, according to MLB Pipeline. He is also a consensus Top 10 prospect at all levels of Minor League Baseball.
Perez, who turns 20 on April 15, will likely get opportunities to pitch in Marlins’ spring training games. He is expected to begin the 2023 season in Triple-A with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.
But Perez created plenty of memorable moments last season, highlighted by his wowing performance Sept. 28 in the deciding game of the Southern League championship series against the Tennessee Smokies when he struck out the first eight batters he faced.
That final start helped the Blue Wahoos to an emphatic 12-4 victory that night in Tennessee and their first outright league title in their 10th anniversary season. He finished the 2022 season, which was partially halted by an injury, with 106 strikeouts of 311 batters faced. Opposing hitters batted just .233 against him.
Perez has spent the offseason training in Miami with Marlins star Sandy Alcantara, the 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner.
He’s among seven pitchers with Blue Wahoos connections receiving non-roster invites. Joining him will be left-hander Dax Fulton, 21, the Marlins second-round selection in 2020 from high school in Oklahoma, who made four starts last season for the Blue Wahoos, after joining the team in late August from High-A Beloit Sky Carp.
Fulton worked 21 innings with a 1-1 record in Pensacola with an impressive 2.57 earned run average. He rose to No. 9 among the Marlins top 30 prospects rated by MLBPipeline.
Adding to spring training intrigue, the Marlins signed free agent Devin Smeltzer, who pitched for the Blue Wahoos in 2019 as a Minnesota Twins prospect – the lone season the Blue Wahoos were a Twins affiliate. His well-chronicled story of beating cancer as a child and rising to reach the Major Leagues with the Twins was part of that 2019 season.
Smeltzer has spent the past three seasons battling injuries, but if he can rediscover 2019 form, it will enable an opportunity to join the Marlins’ team and return to the major leagues.
Four of the five catchers the Marlins invited to spring training are led by Will Banfield and Paul McIntosh, the Blue Wahoos’ top backstop tandem last season. Two others, Jan Mercardo and Santiago Chavez played for the Blue Wahoos the past two seasons.
Among the infielders receiving invites, Troy Johnston gets an opportunity, after a 2022 season where he was the Blue Wahoos top hitter in the first half before moving up to Triple-A.
All of these players will be in the big-league camp that includes 13 former Blue Wahoos players on the Marlins’ 40-man roster. That group is led by 2022 American League batting champion Luis Arraez, who began his 2019 season in Pensacola as a Twins prospect and took a meteoric rise that season into making his MLB debut.
Arraez was part of a trade with the Marlins and Twins that sent Miami starter Pablo Lopez to Minnesota. Three outfielders on the Marlins 40-man roster include Peyton Burdick and JJ Bleday, both of whom played most of the 2021 season with the Blue Wahoos and Jerar Encarnacion, a vital part of the Blue Wahoos’ first half success last season in winning the division race and qualifying for post-season.
Here are the players with Blue Wahoos connections both on the 40-man and non-roster invitees. The Marlins will start spring training Feb. 16 with pitchers and catchers and full-squad workouts Feb. 21.
(Former Blue Wahoos)
Pitchers – Edward Cabrera, Max Meyer, Andrew Nardi, Sean Reynolds, Josh Simpson, George Soriano, Eli Villalobos.
Catchers – Nick Fortes.
Infielders – Luis Arraez
Outfielders – Peyton Burdick, JJ Bleday, Jerar Encarnacion.
(Former Blue Wahoos).
Pitchers – Eury Perez, Dax Fulton, Will Stewart, Jefry Yan, Dylan Bice, Bryan Hoeing, Devin Smeltzer, Robert Garcia.
Catchers – Will Banfield, Santiago Chavez, Paul McIntosh, Jan Mercado.
Infielders – Troy Johnston, Nasim Nunez.
Marlins On Past Rehab Assignments In Pensacola
Anthony Bender, Tommy Nance, Trevor Rogers, Jorge Soler.