Meyer to make debut in Double-A opener

Elite pitching prospect will be joined by Bleday on loaded roster for Double-A Pensacola

May 2nd, 2021

Four hundred and twenty-four days will have passed since the last time right-hander took the mound in a game that counts. MLB Pipeline's No. 23 overall prospect will make his professional debut on Tuesday for Double-A Pensacola's season opener at Mississippi. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET. Meyer and outfielder (No. 16) will lead a stacked Marlins affiliate to open the 2021 season.

Meyer, selected third overall in last summer's MLB Draft, will go five innings or 75 pitches. The 22-year-old did participate at big league camp this spring, but he did not appear in a Grapefruit League game. He was also part of the alternate training site in 2020, and he played in the fall instructional league.

"I can't really describe it, but I can't wait for it," Meyer said. "I know every time I went out for college, I feel like I had a little nerves in me, a little butterflies before every start. I feel like you need that, too, and I can't wait to feel that again and pitch against some really good hitters. I'm just super excited, and for my family to be here to watch me. It pumps me up a little bit more."

According to pitching coach Tim Horton, the organization will be careful with first-year pitchers like Meyer by giving him enough rest and likely just one start a week. Both Meyer and Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel aren't surprised by the big jump to open his career.

According to MLB Pipeline, Meyer is expected to move quickly through the Minors. His fastball (70) and slider (70) grade well on the 20-80 scouting scale. The slider was considered the best pitch in the 2020 Draft, with its velocity reaching the low 90s and Meyer's ability to add and subtract depth to it. The four-seamer sits at 93-97 mph and tops out at 100 mph. And his changeup -- an offering he didn't need to use often in his junior year at the University of Minnesota -- has boosted his arsenal even more.

"We will [have a] limited look with him," Randel said. "It's his first year, and it's going to be his first professional outing underneath the lights. And all the rumors are true. This guy's pretty good. Big arm, excellent slider, controls the game really well. It's going to be fun to watch him pitch his first professional outing."

While Meyer is set for his debut, it'll be a homecoming of sorts for Bleday. The 23-year-old outfielder attended A. Crawford Mosley High School in Lynn Haven, which is 138 miles east of Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle.

"There are a lot of people happy that I'm here in Double-A, and they're going to support me, they're going to come to a lot of games," Bleday said. "I've got a lot of friends in this area, so it's going to be fun. I'm really excited. I grew up playing down here and playing in Mosley, so it's going to be a great experience."

Bleday, chosen fourth overall in the 2019 MLB Draft, appeared in 38 games for Class A Advanced Jupiter after signing and slashed .257/.311/.379 with a .690 OPS. Since then, he has been invited to MLB camp twice, worked out at the alternate training site and competed at the instructional league.

This past Grapefruit League slate, Bleday impressed with his advanced approach at the plate across 19 games, going 6-for-26 with two doubles, one triple, two homers and one stolen base. MLB Pipeline projects he will make his Major League debut in 2021.

"I just think for guys like that, obviously the biggest thing was getting in here to Major League camp and kind of getting their feet wet as far as that goes," Marlins assistant director of player development Hector Crespo told earlier in the week. "It's also just letting the player show us what he's capable of. Obviously JJ is an amazing player, high-character guy, with the ability to do big things and to do great things both offensively and defensively. A guy like that with success at the college level, at the best conference in baseball [SEC], certain guys like that you'll push a little bit. But for the most part, we'll let these guys kind of play and determine where they're going. But like I said, just making sure that the best interest is in mind and making sure that we're setting them up for success in the future."

The Minor League season is a highly anticipated one after a lost year of development in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Miami ranked as the fourth-best system entering 2021. Before camp broke on Friday, the Marlins' Minor Leaguers faced clubs with Spring Training complexes in the vicinity: the Nationals, Mets, Cardinals, Astros and Cardinals.

Other top 30 prospects received their assignments:

1B Lewin Díaz (No. 5) -- Triple-A Jacksonville
OF Jesús Sánchez (No. 6) -- Triple-A Jacksonville
LHP Braxton Garrett (No. 7) -- Triple-A Jacksonville
LHP Dax Fulton (No. 9) -- Low-A Jupiter
OF Victor Mesa Jr. (No. 11) -- Low-A Jupiter
OF Peyton Burdick (No. 12) -- Double-A Pensacola
SS Nasim Nunez (No. 13) -- Low-A Jupiter
OF Kameron Misner (No. 15) -- High-A Beloit
OF Connor Scott (No. 16) -- High-A Beloit
RHP Kyle Nicolas (No. 17) -- High-A Beloit
OF Griffin Conine (No. 18) -- High-A Beloit
OF Jerar Encarnación(No. 21) -- Double-A Pensacola
RHP Zach McCambley (No. 23) -- High-A Beloit
LHP Jake Eder (No. 24) -- Double-A Pensacola
RHP Eury Pérez (No. 25) -- Low-A Jupiter
C Will Banfield (No. 28) -- High-A Beloit
SS Osiris Johnson (No. 30) -- Low-A Jupiter