Top prospects Perez, Bleday go toe-to-toe

April 2nd, 2022

JUPITER, Fla. -- Right-hander Eury Perez vs. outfielder JJ Bleday.

Two of the Marlins' Top 30 prospects squared off in a game between the organization's Double-A and Triple-A players on Friday morning at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. only caught the first matchup, but it was an impressive pitching display. Bleday fouled off the first offering before swinging through the second. After taking an outside pitch, Perez struck out Bleday swinging on a sinking changeup. In the second at-bat, Bleday collected a broken-bat single.

The biggest takeaway was that the Marlins, whose system recently was ranked sixth overall, continue to put Perez on the fast track. If Friday's field placement was any indication, he will start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Perez, who doesn't turn 19 until April 15, has grown four inches (6-foot-8) and added 45 pounds (200) since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the '20 Minor League season, he didn't make his debut until '21. After posting a 1.61 ERA and an 0.95 WHIP in 15 starts for Low-A Jupiter, Perez earned a promotion to High-A Beloit. Facing competition more than five years older, he compiled a 2.86 ERA and an 0.73 WHIP in five starts.

According to MLB Pipeline's scouting report, Perez's fastball ranged from 93-96 mph last season, and topped out at 98 mph. The shape, running action and induced vertical break on his heater could make it a plus-plus offering when he's a finished product. His mid-80s changeup features some fade and tumble, while his upper-70s curveball lands for strikes.

"Eury has a lot of potential in this game already because his stuff is electric," Bleday told "It's fast and heavy because of sink and late movement."

And while the 24-year-old Bleday struggled in his first full pro season at Pensacola (.695 OPS), he earned Fall Stars MVP and Arizona Fall League Co-Hitter of the Year (1.035 OPS). He credited making necessary adjustments like lowering his hands, using his legs more and regaining a disciplined approach.

After spending some time at big league camp for the second time, a bulked-up Bleday will begin his 2022 with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, whose season begins on Tuesday. Not a member of the 40-man roster, Bleday will get more time to develop, with Miami's projected outfield being Jorge Soler, Jesús Sánchez and Avisaíl García.