Bleday debuts as Stewart just misses no-hitter

No. 4 overall pick in 2019 Draft hits third and goes 1-for-4

July 21st, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- On Saturday, the Marlins and Class A Advanced Jupiter promoted the professional debut of outfielder JJ Bleday, but the night belonged to left-handed pitching prospect Will Stewart.

Bleday had a single in four at-bats, and Stewart had a no-hitter intact for 8 2/3 innings before allowing a double on his 108th and final pitch. Stewart exited to a big ovation, and the Hammerheads held on for a 3-1 win over the Palm Beach Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

“Stewart pitched a great game,” Bleday said. “He was getting guys to expand. Everything was going good, his changeup was very good. It’s fun to be part of that, to see that, to be able to put on this uniform and represent this team.”

Bleday, the fourth overall pick in the 2019 Draft, is getting a quick step up in competition at the Class A Advanced level to begin his professional career after winning the national championship at Vanderbilt.

“Whatever they tell me to do, I just do,” Bleday said. “It’s not as easy as you’d think, to just jump into it. It felt good to step back in that box, and to compete again. To get to into that mentality, that approach. It felt good.“

Stewart, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 21 prospect, was in control all night. But with two outs in the ninth inning, his fastball cut over the middle of the plate, and Bryce Denton crushed it to the wall in left-center for a double.

Stewart and Denton once played on a travel team together as teenagers.

“As soon as I let go of it, and I saw him take a swing, I was [like], ‘Yep, that’s it,’ “ Stewart said.

Stewart had faced the minimum before Denton’s two-out double, and his final line saw him allow one run on one hit and a walk with eight strikeouts.

“It was one of those days I didn’t feel I could throw a bad pitch,” Stewart said. “You have them once in a blue moon. Luckily, it happened today, and my defense played amazing. I had so much help in the field.”

The Marlins acquired Stewart from the Phillies as part of the J.T. Realmuto trade.

Meanwhile, Bleday, wearing No. 21, hit third for Jupiter and grounded out to third base in his first at-bat. After a strikeout in his second at-bat, the left-handed hitter, who paced the NCAA with 27 home runs, grounded a single to center on a 93-mph fastball from Ben Yokley.

“That felt good,” Bleday said. “It feels good to get that out of the way. Of course, that first AB, you have butterflies, you’re excited.”

Bleday is adjusting from the high of winning the College World Series to the grind of professional baseball, joining the Marlins’ organization mid-season.

“You can’t really judge off one game,” Bleday said. “You judge off how you do over a long period of time. It’s the same game; regardless of what level you’re at, it’s the same game. You can’t hype it up.”