Top prospects Salas, Lewis, Misner visit Miami

July 14th, 2019

MIAMI -- Miguel Rojas was seeing double on Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park, as two of the Marlins’ top international signings took the field wearing his No. 19.

Jose Salas Jr. from Venezuela and Ian Lewis from the Bahamas each wore No. 19, reflecting the year of their international signing class.

A third Marlins prospect joined them on the field for batting practice before the Marlins’ 4-2 loss to the Mets. Outfielder Kameron Misner out of the University of Missouri was the Marlins’ Competitive Balance Round A pick and sported No. 30.

The three warmed up with the team after being directed by Rojas to take a lap around the infield. Rojas made a point of speaking to each of the three separately.

“You’re here in this big place and they’ve established themselves,” Misner said of rubbing shoulders with the big leaguers. “It’s cool being around them, you watch them on TV and whatnot. Just being here and really talking to them, it’s pretty cool.”

After Misner walked into the clubhouse and approached a Major League locker with his name on it for the first time, the No. 35 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft seemed to step back to take in the moment.

“It’s special when you come in, you're kind of a builder or whatnot,” Misner said. “You want to be a part of something great one day. It's fun just being one of those guys that can maybe one day change [the team’s fortunes]. So, I’m pretty excited.”

Misner’s signing went down to the wire, with the Marlins quickly approaching the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Friday before they secured Misner. The junior signed a $2.115 million deal, which was above his slot value of $2,095,800.

In his final year at Missouri, Misner slashed .286/.440/.481 with 10 doubles, 10 homers and 32 RBIs. During batting practice before Friday night’s game against the Mets, Misner needed a few swings before getting comfortable in the box, sending a line drive up the middle and knocking one beyond the wall once after that.

Salas and Lewis were two of the organization’s top international signings on July 2.

The shortstops also stepped into the box and cranked multiple balls into the outfield despite being young, smaller players. Lewis had been to a Major League park before, but this was Salas’ first time -- all the more special as it was his favorite team’s park.

“The Marlins have always been a favorite of mine since I was a little kid,” Salas said. “I always wanted to be [with] the Marlins. Lived in the Orlando area for a little bit. Always wanted to be close to home, to everyone that’s helped me along the way.”

At 16 years old, Salas is the No. 10 international prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He stands out as one of the most advanced hitters of his class with impressive bat speed and strike-zone recognition. While he can hit line drives, he’s also a solid defender, turning to second with ease while practicing at shortstop with Rojas and Lewis.

“With Jose Salas Jr., the passion he has, you see he’s an athletic batter right away,” director of international operations Fernando Seguignol said. “Besides that, it’s his actions. Smooth actions, down the middle of the field. He’s going to play at shortstop. And then when you start seeing them hit, you'll see the bat speed as well.”

Lewis offers another potentially exciting bat for the Marlins, as a switch-hitter with bat speed, good timing and a mature plate approach. He took both righty and lefty swings during batting practice and was able to pull balls and hit to the opposite field from both sides of the plate.

“With Ian Lewis, it's the same kind of deal,” Seguignol said. “I see him like a Dee Gordon type. He can play anywhere in the field as well, very athletic, spark plug, really good gait out of the batter’s box. He’s going to steal some bags.”

As a Nassau native and one of the top prospects out of the Bahamas, Lewis hopes to be part of the new wave of Bahamian baseball players that inspire the younger generation, as players like Jazz Chisholm and Lucius Fox did for him.

“It’s a dream come true, but you know it's only the first step,” Lewis said. “Because this is where you want to be for a long time.”