MO2 has latest on Miami Marlins low-A affiliate the Jupiter Hammerheads. Eury Perez and Evan Fitterer each stand out in their latest outings
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
JUPITER, Fla. — ManOn2nd picked a good weekend to check out the Jupiter Hammerheads.
After Friday’s game was postponed due to threatening weather, a doubleheader was played on Saturday night with the Palm Beach Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
The two Hammerheads starters were worth the price of admission. Evan Fitterer and Eury Perez each showed plenty of promise, and we’ll discuss them in a minute. We’ll also give you a bonus update on a Palm Beach Cardinals left-hander who we feel could be an under the radar prospect, and more.
RHP Eury Perez, Jupiter Hammerheads: The Marlins signed Perez for $200,000 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2019. Credit Miami’s international operations, because the 18-year-old is looking like a huge bargain.
Saturday’s Game 2 performance may have been Perez’s best professional performance yet. In five shutout innings, he scattered two hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter, and got better with each pitch.
To be clear, at MO2 we don’t base our evaluations solely on statistics. We look at projection, and talent. If the numbers back them up, the better.
Perez, in our eyes, has the makings of being a mid-rotation right-hander. We’ve talked to some who see a future big league reliever, while others feel he can be a top of the rotation candidate. We try to get as many opinions as possible on players before forming our opinions.
For now, MO2 sees Perez as a future No. 3, based on a 93-97 mph fastball, his ability to throw strikes, and get the ball to both sides of the plate. Perez can drop his curveball over the plate for a strike. His slider and changeup need work. We’re confident he will be able to have three average to plus average pitches.
Perez is listed at 6-foot-8, 225-pounds, he repeats his delivery, and he’s pretty athletic.
Will he get too big, and that hurt his ability to repeat and throw strikes? That’s always a concern with really tall pitchers. Right now, it’s not an issue.
What MO2 also likes about Perez is his mound presence. He carries himself with confidence, and is loose out there. Shows he’s completely comfortable, smiling and laughing with his teammates.
On this night, he allowed two solidly-hit singles in the second inning, which could have turned his start for the worse. A few Cardinals were on his fastball, barreling them for hits. Yet, Perez pitched out of the only jam he encountered on Saturday, went more on the attack, and got better the rest of the way.
For the season, he has a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings, with 60 strikeouts, 17 walks and a 1.05 WHIP.
Perez definitely should be high on all prospect lists.
RHP Evan Fitterer, Jupiter Hammerheads: A fifth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Fitterer has a chance to be a back of the rotation starter. That’s high value for the pick, and credit to Miami’s amateur staff.
No Minor League season in 2020 hurt prospects like Fitterer, who now is getting up to speed.
In Game 1 on Saturday, Fitterer made his first start for low-A Jupiter, after appearing in two Rookie League games.
Now 21, he has a four-pitch mix: fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. He touched 94 mph on Saturday, and threw well in three innings. He allowed some soft singles and an RBI single on a grounder that made it through a vacated second base due to the shift.
Again, results don’t always matter. It’s how he was throwing, and he was just fine. He gave up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks in three innings.
Fitterer could be moving up to High-A Beloit in the near future. Right now, he’s added some needed strength and his fastball velocity is up a bit. So, there are plenty of encouraging signs for the right-hander.
OF Victor Mesa, Jr., Jupiter Hammerheads: MO2 is a fan of Mesa Jr., the left-handed hitting outfielder from Cuba.
Just 19, Mesa is holding his own against competition that for the most part is older than he is. For the season, he’s hitting .252/.312/.354 with three homers, 11 doubles, three triples, eight stolen bases and 44 RBIs.
Will he hit for enough power to be a big league regular? He hasn’t shown that yet. And most likely he will project as a corner outfielder, not a center fielder.
Still, Mesa plays with a passion and confidence that we wouldn’t be surprised if he surprises people as he gets older.
On Saturday, he had a few hits off left-handers, which is always encouraging for left-handed hitters. He’s a bit of a gamer. Is always out there, and appears to have plenty of fun playing.
LHP Sean Kealey, Palm Beach Cardinals: Who is this guy? MO2 was asking that after watching him pitch in Game 1 on Saturday.
You’re not going to find Sean Kealey on any top 30 lists, which makes him even more interesting to MO2, because we like to see what others might be missing.
Kealey signed in mid-June with the Palm Beach Cardinals. The 23-year-old lefty is one of those players impacted heavily by no Minor League season in 2020. In fact, his final season at Allegheny College in 2020 was shortened due to the pandemic, leading him to play Independent League ball with the Washington Wild Things.
In 2019, Kealey was the North Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Now, he’s throwing relief in low A ball, so he has an opportunity.
Listed at 6-7, 225-pounds, Kealey could make it as a lefty bullpen arm. He was throwing 90-91 mph, and in 14 2/3 innings, he has 25 strikeouts and six walks.
If you’re looking for an under-the-radar prospect, Kealey could be worth following.
Worth noting: The deadline to sign 2021 MLB Draft picks in Aug. 1, so we’re closing in on that date. The Marlins have yet to come to terms with their first-round pick, shortstop Kahlil Watson. Miami has about $4.5 million of bonus pool money to get the deal done. Will it happen? Until a contract is signed, you can’t definitively say yes. But MO2 is confident that Watson will sign with Miami. His other choice is to go to college and play for North Carolina State. Yes, players now have NIL options if they go the college route. If his heart is truly to play pro ball, I don’t see him opting for college.
Shortstop Nasim Nunez exited Game 1 with an apparent leg injury. Without official word from the clubs, it’s a guess. But it appeared he is hampered either by a foot or ankle injury. Nunez favored his leg on a long fly ball out, and moved slowly back to the dugout. In the field, he moved slowly to a ground ball, and was replaced from the game.