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Blue Wahoos Announce Preliminary Opening Day Roster

May 1, 2021

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos announced their preliminary Opening Day roster on Saturday, bringing a star-studded collection of top prospect talent to Pensacola as the Blue Wahoos begin their first season as a Miami Marlins affiliate. Starting Rotation Fans will have the opportunity to watch one of baseball’s top overall pitching

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos announced their preliminary Opening Day roster on Saturday, bringing a star-studded collection of top prospect talent to Pensacola as the Blue Wahoos begin their first season as a Miami Marlins affiliate.

Starting Rotation

Fans will have the opportunity to watch one of baseball’s top overall pitching prospects at Blue Wahoos Stadium this season in right-handed pitcher Max Meyer. The 3rd overall selection in the 2020 draft, the flame-throwing 22-year-old will make his professional debut in 2021, skipping directly to the Double-A level due to his advanced arsenal. Meyer enters the season as the #3 prospect in the Marlins system and ranked as the #28 overall prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline. Boasting a fastball that has reached triple digits and a devastating wipeout slider, Meyer’s starts will be can’t-miss events for Pensacola fans.

Like Meyer, Jake Eder will also make his professional debut by heading directly to Double-A in 2021. A fourth round selection in 2020 out of pitching-powerhouse Vanderbilt, Eder was on the mound when Vanderbilt secured the 2019 College World Series title, earning a three-inning save against Michigan in the deciding Game 3 of the championship series.

Following a highly successful 2019 season at the Class A and High-A levels, Tanner Andrews joins the Blue Wahoos rotation. With A-Clinton in 2019, Andrews posted an 8-5 record and 3.52 ERA in 22 appearance (18 starts), logging 128.0 innings. A 10th round selection in 2018 from Purdue, Andrews stuck out 110 while walking just 38 in 2019.

­After spending the 2019 season at the High-A level with Jupiter, lefty Will Stewart joins the Pensacola rotation in 2021. Originally drafted by the Phillies, Stewart was part of the prospect haul the Marlins received in exchange for catcher J.T. Realmuto prior to the 2019 season, accompanying Sixto Sanchez and Jorge Alfaro to Miami in the deal. Prior to the trade, Stewart was a South Atlantic League Mid- and Post-Season All-Star in 2018, going 8-1 with a 2.06 ERA with the Lakewood BlueClaws.


While Pensacola has a strong starting rotation in 2021, their bullpen will be equally stingy. As a whole, the relief pitchers on the Blue Wahoos Opening Day roster held a cumulative 2.63 ERA across 342.1 innings in 2019 and 2020, striking out 350 batters.

The bullpen will contain a pair of veteran presences in 28-year-old lefty Brandon Leibrandt and 27-year-old Jose Mesa Jr. Liebrandt brings Major League experience to Pensacola, having made five appearances for the Marlins in the big leagues in 2020. Mesa Jr. comes with big league pedigree as the son of All-Star closer Jose Mesa.

The Blue Wahoos relief corps will also hold righties CJ Carter (3-3, 5 saves, 2.30 ERA), Colton Hock (3-4, 5 saves, 3.16 ERA in 2019), Jeff Lindgren (2-2, 1.27 ERA), Anthony Maldonado (2-1, 1.59 ERA), Tyler Stevens (5-1, 2.82 ERA), and Zach Wolf (4-2, 3.07 ERA). Sean Guenther (5-3, 2.02 ERA) will serve as the lefty out of the pen.


The Blue Wahoos catching trio will be led by Chris Chinea, a career .275 hitter in the Minor Leagues. In 2019 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Chinea hit .279/.322/.439 with 10 home runs. Alongside Chinea will be 2018 fourth round draft pick Nick Fortes and the powerful JD Osborne (10 homeruns, 18 doubles in 2019).


The Blue Wahoos infield will be anchored at first base by powerful 26-year-old Lazaro Alonso. Across the High-A and Double-A level in 2019, Alonso slashed .282/.381/.418 with 12 home runs and was named an Organizational All-Star by and a Florida State League Post-Season All-Star.

Connor Justus brings a wealth of experience at the Double-A level to Pensacola, having played 192 games with the Mobile BayBears in the Southern League across the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Riley Mahan joins Justus in the middle infield after hitting .251 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 2019 between the High-A and Double-A levels.

After climbing three levels in 2019, Demetrius Sims rounds out the Blue Wahoos infield having held a .365 on-base and 34 extra-base hits from his last campaign.


The Blue Wahoos star-studded outfield will be headed by Marlins #2 prospect JJ Bleday. The fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bleday is viewed as one of the Minor’s most advanced hitters, despite having just 38 games at the professional level under his belt. Ranked as the #20 prospect in the game of baseball by MLB Pipeline entering the season, Bleday hit an eye-popping .354/.468/.747 with 26 homers, most in the country, during his final collegiate season at Vanderbilt.

Joining Bleday in the outfield will be powerful 23-year-old Jerar Encarnacion, the Marlins #21 prospect. An international signing from the Dominican Republic in 2015, Encarnacion led the Marlins system in RBIs in 2019 with 71 and ranked second in extra-base hits (43). In 2019, Encarnacion hit a healthy .276/.331/.756 with 16 home runs at the Class A and High-A levels.

Pensacola’s outfield will also feature top prospect Victor Victor Mesa, the Marlins prized signing from the 2018 international class. Signed for $5 million, Mesa was rated as the #1 international prospect in the world when he joined the Miami organization and he entered the 2019 season ranked by Baseball America as the #60 overall prospect in the Minor Leagues. Mesa reached the Double-A level in 2019 with Jacksonville and represented the Marlins in the prestigious Arizona Fall League.

Peyton Burdick, ranked the Marlins #12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, adds an additional big bat to the Pensacola outfield after hitting .308 with 11 home runs in a 2019 split between the Low-A and Class A levels. A third round selection in 2019 from Wright State after being named the Horizon League Player of the Year, hitting .407 with 15 home runs, in his final collegiate season.

Tristan Pompey, also a third round pick, rounds out the Blue Wahoos outfield, bringing elite on-base skills to Pensacola. Boasting a career .361 on-base percentage, Pompey has played two seasons in the Minors after being selected 89th overall in the 2018 draft out of Kentucky.

The Blue Wahoos will open the 2021 season on May 4 on the road against the Mississippi Braves. Pensacola fans will have their first chance to watch the team’s exciting roster play on Opening Night at Blue Wahoos Stadium on May 11 against the Birmingham Barons.