Image credit: JJ Bleday (Photo by Tom DiPace)
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams’ most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization’s 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: OF JJ Bleday (1) was a career .327/.448/.555 hitter at Vanderbilt before the Marlins selected the lefthanded hitter with the No. 4 overall pick. While in college, Bleday also drew more walks (119) than strikeouts (102), showing off a refined approach, smooth swing and solid bat speed. As he progresses, Bleday has the potential to be a future plus hitter.
Best Power: While Bleday led all Division I hitters with 27 home runs last spring, OF Peyton Burdick (3) saw his power translate more easily in his pro debut. A 6-foot, 210-pound righthander hitter, Burdick has 70-grade raw power and was able to regularly tap into that potential in games, hitting 11 home runs and 35 extra-base hits in 69 minor league games.
Fastest Runner: A college teammate of Burdick’s at Wright State, OF J.D. Orr (10) has some scouts believing he is a legitimate 80-grade runner. He stole 29 bases in 64 games in the short-season New York-Penn League in his pro debut, and he went 118-for-145 (81 percent) in stolen base attempts during his four years in college. His top-of-the-scale speed also helps him in the outfield, where he shows above-average range and is capable of playing all three spots.
Best Defensive Player: SS Nasim Nunez (2) was among the best defensive shortstops in the 2019 class, which was a major reason the Marlins selected him with the 46th overall pick and signed him for $2.2 million. Undersized at just 5-foot-9, 160 pounds, Nunez has a plus arm capable of making all of the necessary throws, and his plus speed provides him with great range. Only 18 years old when the Marlins drafted him, Nunez committed 16 errors in 48 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, so improved consistency will be a focus moving forward.
Best Athlete: OF Kameron Misner (1s) has a chance to be a true, five-tool player. At 6-foot-4, 219 pounds, Misner is an above-average runner with an explosive first step, which helps him both on the bases and in the outfield. Playing mostly center field for now, Misner has the above-average arm and plus power potential needed to profile in right field, if necessary.
Best Fastball: RHP Evan Fitterer (5) regularly showcased a mid-90s fastball as an amateur, leading the Marlins to lure him away from his UCLA commitment with a $1.5 million signing bonus. RHP Bryan Hoeing (7) touched 96 mph as a reliever at Louisville, but his fastball played more in the low 90s during his pro debut after a long college season.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP M.D. Johnson (6) has a hard, tight slider that helped him rack up more than 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 15 relief appearances for short-season Batavia. Fitterer has a slider that can look more like a slurve at times, but the Marlins believe it has the potential to be a future plus pitch with more refinement.
Best Pro Debut: Burdick had one of the best pro debuts of any 2019 draft pick, regardless of team affiliation. After a brief, six-game cameo in the New York-Penn League in which he hit .318/.400/.545 with one home run and a stolen base, Burdick moved to low Class A Clinton and hit .307/.408/.542 with 10 home runs, 20 doubles, three triples, 59 RBIs and six stolen bases in 63 games. Burdick’s .950 OPS ranked third among all hitters who accumulated at least 250 plate appearances in the Midwest League this season.
Most Intriguing Background: 3B Nic Ready (23) is the son of former major league infielder Randy Ready, who played a combined 13 seasons for the Brewers, Padres, Phillies, Athletics and Montreal Expos from 1983-95. A product of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Nic Ready draws rave reviews from evaluators for both his work ethic and makeup, and he posted a .824 OPS with 42 extra-base hits (10 home runs) in 67 games for Batavia during his debut.
Closest To The Majors: Bleday is a polished hitter with a strong track record of success at Vanderbilt—where he helped the Commodores win a national championship in 2019—and in the wood-bat Cape Cod League. After signing with the Marlins for north of $6.6 million, Bleday could be manning a corner outfield spot in the majors as soon as 2021.
Best Late-Round Pick: RHP Chris Mokma (12) signed with the Marlins for $557,000, which was a larger signing bonus than all but four of the organization’s draft picks received in 2019. A 6-foot-4, 190-pound prep arm out of Michigan, Mokma impressed evaluators with his low-90s fastball, strike-throwing ability and overall clean delivery.
The One Who Got Away: C Nate Rombach (19) and RHP Jhonny Felix (21) were the only Marlins picks selected in the top 25 rounds not to sign, but 3B Parker Noland (31) could eventually prove to be the pick the Marlins wished they signed most. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Vanderbilt commit has an advanced lefthanded bat with above-average power potential and should be a productive hitter for the Commodores for years to come.