Bleday, Devers, Miller dazzle on defense

March 3rd, 2021

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins prospects , and flashed the leather in a 0-0 seven-inning tie with the Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

After homering as the designated hitter in Sunday's spring opener, Bleday showed off his plus arm (60 grade on scale of 80) in right field by doubling off Max Moroff in the third inning. Moroff, who was running on the pitch, couldn't get back to first base in time on Matt Carpenter's flyout in front of the warning track.

Víctor Víctor Mesa, who is known for his strong arm in center field, was impressed by what he saw from MLB Pipeline's No. 20 overall prospect.

"It was incredible," Mesa said via an interpreter over Zoom. "An amazing throw. It was a good play from him."

Devers made a couple of nice defensive plays at third base, a position the 21-year-old has not played in the Minors but has seen reps at during camp. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Devers, whose older cousin Rafael plays the hot corner for the Red Sox, doesn't profile there. The decision to put the younger Devers there on Tuesday was about getting him at-bats. Still, one couldn't tell by how comfortable he looked.

In the first inning, Devers ranged to his left in shallow right field as part of the shift, spun and threw to first to retire Carpenter. In the second, he showcased his speed by coming in on a chopper by Matt Szczur and firing over to first.

Miller, who entered the game in the sixth as a defensive replacement, preserved the shutout in the seventh by throwing out Delvin Perez at home following Justin Toerner's fly ball.

"JJ with the awareness, Devers looked good," Mattingly said over Zoom. "Thought Víctor Víctor's ball he cuts off in the gap -- didn't end up throwing anybody out -- but keeps that guy at first and gets out of that inning. Miller's throw at the end of the game."

Cranking it up
No. 7 prospect Braxton Garrett saw an uptick in his fastball velocity in his spring debut. Garrett, who pitched two scoreless innings with three walks and one strikeout, reached 93.2 mph on his four-seamer and averaged 92.1 mph.

Garrett, who made two starts in doubleheaders in 2020, averaged an 89.6 mph fastball velocity in those outings. According to MLB Pipeline, he typically sits in the 90-93 mph range and tops out at 96 mph.

"My velo is better, especially, compared to the end of last season," Garrett said via Zoom. "I was losing a little gas there, but I'd like it to be a little higher, which I think I can get it there. Just continuing to throw. As the innings get up, get a little more conditioned, I think that'll go up or at least stay there."

The plan for off-days
Thursday marks the first of five off-days for the Marlins this Spring Training, a higher number than during a typical camp. Prospects Zach McCambley and Jordan Holloway will be among the pitchers to throw live batting practice.

Mattingly anticipates giving the team a complete day off on March 14. On March 24 -- the final off-day before the spring schedule concludes -- there will be a game of some type to get pitching in.

"I would like to use them as recovery days for the most part, and kind of days that guys can be specific with what they do," Mattingly said. "But for the most part, try to use them either for team defense or keep the day light as much as anything. Our coaches are here all day, every day. It feels like they're here at six in the morning till after the games. So give those guys a little bit of a breather, but also use it as a recovery day for the guys."

Worth noting
• Adam Cimber pitched a scoreless fifth in his Marlins debut.

Up next
Elieser Hernandez, projected as the rotation's No. 3 starter, will make his spring debut at 1:05 p.m. ET on Thursday against the Nationals at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.