Derek Jeter Has His Eyes on Current NCAA Home-Run King J.J. Bleday in Next Week's MLB Draft

You wouldn't know it by their record, but the Miami Marlins have lots of pitching. The team's farm system — and for that matter, the guys already toeing the hill in the major leagues this season — signal a bright future. Caleb Smith, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Jose Urena, Trevor Richards, number-one Marlins prospect Sixto Sánchez, and a slew of other hot pitchers on the farm should make fans feel good about what's in the cupboard.

Unfortunately, there's another half of an inning the Marlins have to figure out. The one that involves putting runs on the board. Baseball is tricky like that.

The Marlins have been having historic amounts of trouble with the offensive part of baseball this season, and little immediate help outside a handful of prospects seems to be on the way. The organization is light on sluggers, which means you can bet it will be searching for some beefy bats in next week's MLB Draft, which takes place June 3.

The Marlins hold the fourth-overall selection and have their eyes on a player some believe could provide help right away — reigning SEC Player of the Year and current NCAA home run leader, Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday. The six-foot three-inch, 205-pound college slugger was hitting .357 with 26 home runs (school record) and 66 RBIs in just 58 games as of Sunday.

He's good at baseball, specifically murdering baseballs and changing the scoreboard.

You're probably unaware of Bleday — MLB draft prospects don't exactly get the same attention as those in the NBA and NFL — but you should get to know him before next week's draft. Don't take my word for it; pay attention to the Marlins' actions — they're clearly intrigued with Bleday.

Last week, Marlins brass — including Derek Jeter himself — checked out Bleday, who went 5-5 with Marlins decision makers in attendance. Not a bad audition.

The guys over at Fishstripes had this to say about the possible newest Marlin:

JJ Bleday is a pure hitter in every sense of the label. True corner outfielder with a plus hit tool and plus raw power from the left side of the plate. Bleday yields equal parts Yelich, Stanton and Ozuna in his game; his ceiling as a big leaguer could be comparable to theirs, too.

Well, damn! That'll get attention. It's like saying Josh Rosen is a mixture of Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade.

If the pick isn't Bleday, most are laying their money on Andrew Vaughn, a first baseman from California. If both are gone, there are rumors some of the Marlins brass want to go with CJ Abrams, a speedy shortstop who plays for Blessed Trinity Catholic H.S. (Roswell, Ga.).

No matter what, you can bet your car title that the Marlins are taking a bat next week. Pitching is on the back burner. The Marlins need sluggers and fast. 
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.