Imagine you are on the verge of getting drafted to play Major League Baseball.
Commissioner Rob Manfred calls your name, then Hall of Fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. and arguably the most significant position player analyzes your scouting video live on MLB network with added advice.
That is what happened to the Miami Marlins 4th selection in the MLB draft, outfielder J.J. Bleday from Vanderbilt University. Bleday was a prospect after his sophomore season thanks to his dominance in the SEC and finishing with 26 home runs to lead the nation.
“He can swing it,” Griffey Jr. stated. “Don’t do anything differently; you are hitting the ball in all fields. Drive in runs, play solid right field, keep it going.”
Bleday, 21, is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, and bats and throws left-handed. He is batting .327 over his three-year career at Vanderbilt University. He has 26 doubles, two triples, 32 home runs, and 105 RBI in that time. As a junior this season, he is hitting .353 through 62 games, with 75 runs scored, 13 doubles, a triple, 26 home runs, and 68 RBI. His 26 home runs set a Vanderbilt single-season school record and led Division-I Baseball entering the NCAA tournament for the second-ranked Commodores.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Miami Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said. “It is always our goal to acquire the most impactful pieces. Pieces we think that will fit in what we are doing here, what we are trying to build in bringing championships to South Florida.
Looking at the tape, you learn he is a multitalented athlete. MLB.com rated him as the best outfield prospect in the 2019 Draft. Bleday was named 2019 SEC Player of the Year and is one of four finalists for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award, which is presented to the nation’s best amateur baseball player.
He is a hitter that has power, not a power guy who cannot hit. In the outfield, he is exceptionally instinctive defensively. The Marlins need an offense; he is a player that will fit in nicely. Moreover, he will fair well in Marlins Park, which is one of the hardest to hit home runs in.
“This is a left-handed bat which we covet,” Hill added. “We are very right handed when you look at position player wise within the organization. It is the drive; it is the determination and commitment that we know the kid has.”
Marlins also selected outfielder Kameron Misner from the University of Missouri with the 35th pick, and infielder Nasim Nuñez from Collins Hill HS in Suwanee, Ga., with the 46th selection.
Misner, 21, was rated by Baseball America as the sixth-best outfield prospect (26th overall). During his three years at Missouri, he has hit .301 with 31 doubles, four triples, 21 home runs, 91 RBI, and 109 walks. This year, his junior season, he posted a .286 average with ten doubles, ten home runs, 32 RBI, 54 walks and a .440 on-base percentage in 57 games.
Miami capped day one of the Draft with the selection of infielder Nasim Nuñez in the second round. He participated in the 2018 Perfect-Game All-American Classic and was featured in the MLB Breakthrough Series, a program focused on developing players on and off-the-field through seminars, mentorship, and scout evaluations. Nuñez, 18, is a switch-hitting shortstop and was rated by Baseball America as the 43rd overall prospect in the 2019 Draft.