The future of Miami baseball is here

August 24th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola's Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The MLB Draft is a chance for organizations to replenish their farm system with an eye toward the future.

According to Marlins senior director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik, the average number of players selected by a club from any given Draft to reach the Majors is 2.8. Miami already has surpassed that in the past month.

Due to injuries and placement in the standings, the future is being tested now by the Marlins. Four members of their 2019 MLB Draft class -- outfielders (first round) and (third), right-hander (seventh) and southpaw (16th) -- have debuted. First baseman/outfielder Troy Johnston (17th) and left-hander Josh Simpson (32nd) are a step closer to The Show after recently being promoted to Triple-A Jacksonville.

"That's pretty amazing, honestly, just watching each other grind our ways up here," said Nardi, who has made three relief appearances since his callup. "It's awesome just seeing us all up here and just all getting our opportunities now."

All four quickly transitioned from college to professional ball in the summer of 2019, though at different stages. Hoeing remembers being roommates with Nardi at a host house in Jupiter, Fla., before heading to then-Short-Season Batavia. They once again were roommates on the road for the Jumbo Shrimp this year. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the quartet missed out on a year of development in 2020. When Minor League play resumed in '21, Bleday and Burdick opened their first full pro season at Double-A Pensacola, while Hoeing began at High-A Beloit and Nardi at Single-A Jupiter.

"We've kind of all come up together," said Hoeing, who debuted on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. "It's kind of funny how it all works. You think back to that 2019 Draft, and we had a lot of good guys in that Draft, a lot of guys I think will still come up here and make their debut here soon. But it's just cool that we've all kind of been through the Minor League system together, and we get to enjoy this big league time together as well."

The Marlins' prospects have established routines and nurtured bonds spending so much time together on and off the field. Bleday and Burdick, for example, have gone from playing side by side in the outfield at ballparks in the south to Chavez Ravine. When Burdick made a leaping catch to rob Cody Bellinger of extra bases on Saturday night, Bleday was nearby to cheer him on.

Their presence serves as a support system since success isn't as immediate at this level. So used to being the best of the best as prep and college players -- that's the reason why they were drafted, after all -- the four are dealing with growing pains.

"There's a lot of stuff to learn," said Bleday, who was the first to debut on July 23. "We're all young guys, so we've got to accept the failures and learn from it and move on and keep working hard and giving our best efforts every day."

Added Burdick, who has played in 17 MLB games entering Tuesday: "I feel like every year you're just learning new things and you're always adapting every year. One thing I learned for sure is how to deal with failure, and how to welcome failure and use that and overcome it, because we play a game of failure. It's going to happen at some point, and just learn how to get through that and come out the other side."