The Beloit Snappers enjoyed a long history as a premier Class A franchise, spending almost four decades in that division with three different affiliates. Beloit was treated to appearances from solid future big leaguers such as Paul Molitor, Prince Fielder, Matt Garza, and Matt Chapman, to name a few. Now rebranded as the Sky Carp, they are prepared to start their first full season in the beautiful new ABC Supply Stadium. This is a new age for the Beloit franchise, and just their second year as an affiliate with the Marlins in High-A. With the amount of talent that is filtering through this lower level of the Minors, it would be no surprise to see Beloit have their first season above .500 since 2013. With fans buzzing around the new park, there would be no better season to do that in. Beloit fans will be treated to the talents of Eury Perez, one of the fastest rising pitching prospects in the sport, and electric offensive talents in Nasim Nunez and Osiris Johnson. In conducting this preview, what stood out most in the projected Beloit roster was speed and athleticism. That should make for an exciting product to see for those in the area of the Wisconsin-Illinois border town.
Managing the team in their inaugural season as the Sky Carp will be Jorge Hernandez. Hernandez has spent over a decade working with the Marlins in various positions as a coach and manager in the lower minor league levels. He was most recently the manager with Jupiter, spending just this past season there. That should make Hernandez’s transition to Beloit a seamless one, as he managed Nunez, Victor Mesa Jr, Johnson, Perez, and others just last season. Having experience with the most talented players expected to be in Beloit should only help their development, as they gain comfort while traveling from the cozy confines of Florida all the way up to Wisconsin. Hernandez has further managing experience in the Gulf Coast League from 2009-2012, and also in the now defunct New York-Penn League in 2018. This all came with the Marlins, so it is good to see a long time trooper in the organization get promoted. Ensuring that your coaches at all levels, from the Majors to the Minors, are on the same page with the organization’s overall goals is a common theme for the best teams. Hernandez has clearly shown he is a quality developer of young players, so here is to hoping his first season in Beloit will be fruitful.
C Bennett Hostetler
2021 Stats (A-A+): .319.367/.486, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 38/36 K/BB
Converting to catcher from the infield gives Hostetler the opportunity to improve his value if he can play the position well. He has done nothing but hit since his senior year at North Dakota State, although Hostetler did strike out a concerning amount in his professional debut this past season.
1B Tanner Allen
2021 Stats (FCL-A): .183/.257/.275, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 11/3 K/BB
Already 23 years old, Allen will be under a lot of pressure to start moving up the levels of the minors this season. The SEC Player of the Year in 2021, Allen has raw power and a line drive approach. He is an above average athlete, but did not play the outfield particularly well. Ultimately, to profile at first base, where he played a bit in college, Allen will need to hit more.
2B Federico Polanco
3B Cody Morissette
2021 Stats (A): .204/.308/.299, 1 HR, 10 XBH, 10 RBI, 38/20 K/BB
Morissette has good contact skills and a solid approach at the plate that made him one of the top college hitters in the country. His short swing and gap-to-gap power drew a Joey Wendle comp from FanGraphs, and this is before the Marlins traded for Wendle.
Morissette’s versatility, as he could play second base as well, contributes to that comp and his lack of arm strength is probably meant more for second base. Not having enough raw power holds Morissette back from being a better prospect and limits his ceiling.
SS Nasim Nunez
2021 Stats (A): .243/.366/.265, 3 XBH, 10 RBI, 46/35 K/BB, 35/10 SB/CS
Nunez has played just over one hundred minor league games now, and has over sixty stolen bases. His speed and defense will be what gets him to the Majors, although some scouts remain optimistic about his ability to hit. As a switch hitter, Nunez has shown more promise from the left side and has barreled some balls. Added strength has also improved his exit velocities, but Nunez still has more to put on his frame. His approach at the plate should be appreciated, as Nunez knows his strength is his speed. As a result, he has prioritized getting on base despite his lack of power; a .243/.366/.265 line in A-Ball in 2021 shows this, to go along with 33 stolen bases. Scouts seem to agree that he will be able to stick at shortstop and be a good one.
LF Victor Mesa Jr
2021 Stats (A): .266/.316/.402, 5 HR, 37 XBH, 71 RBI, 102/33 K/BB
The brother of Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Jr. has clearly emerged as the better prospect out of the two despite what scouts initially expected. What he lacks in raw power is made up for with a decent approach at the plate and an ability to make solid contact consistently.
Mesa has a sweet swing from the left side, and does have some muscle, but is not expected to tack on much more power. Scouts doubt if he has the speed to play center field in the big leagues, but he is a high IQ player who undoubtedly would be an adequate corner outfielder. The ceiling is not terribly high, but everything is there for him to be at least a contact-oriented fourth outfielder.
CF Osiris Johnson
2021 Stats (FCL-A): .219/.294/.373, 11 HR, 30 XBH, 55 RBI, 104/34 K/BB
Johnson was tearing up the Complex League before earning a promotion to A-Ball in 2021, but struggled from that point on. This is understandable considering Johnson missed all of 2019 due to an elbow injury, so 2021 was his first live action since 2018. Johnson has impressive bloodlines, as the son of a former big leaguer and the cousin of Jimmy Rollins. He has displayed impressive minor league exit velocities, and scouts are optimistic that he can keep getting stronger.
A better approach at the plate will be needed, and his stocky frame has many thinking that he will be better in the infield. The Marlins have tried him at all three outfield spots, plus shortstop, second, and third. FanGraphs expects he will stick at second or third base, and MLB puts a Howie Kendrick comp on him due to his frame and surprising pop. He should get a chance at Beloit to show that his ability to hit the ball hard can translate to a better slash line in 2022.
RF Davis Bradshaw
DH Paul McIntonsh
RHP Eury Perez
2021 Stats (A-A+): 78 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, 108/26 K/BB
Perez was not a huge prospect when signing, but has grown four inches since then and his fastball has increased in velocity as a result. Scouts are now optimistic that this rapidly rising prospect could sit in the mid-nineties with the heater, and he reportedly topped out at 97 during the 2021 season in the minors. That is all very promising, and makes Perez very projectible as a prospect.
He already had very good feel for the curveball and changeup, which is impressive considering his age. That helps explain why Perez has had some success already as he has progressed through the minors, despite still being so young. His control was even improved in games, and this was his first time pitching professionally due to the pandemic. Perez should continue leaping up prospect lists if he continues his success, and keeps jumping levels in 2022.
LHP Dax Fulton
2021 Stats (A-A+): 78.1 IP, 4.60 ERA, 1.391 WHIP, 84/38 K/BB
Fulton missed the end of his senior year in high school due to TJS, and the Marlins still took him high. He was the top rated prep left handed pitcher, and was able to finally get on the mound in a professional setting in 2021. The fastball has the potential to keep adding on a few ticks, considering Fulton’s age and size. It already has a ton of downward movement, and he generated a lot of ground balls with it last year. The curveball also has a lot of movement, and is more of the swing and miss pitch. He does have a repeatable delivery, and the changeup is starting to develop so Fulton should be able to remain a starter. Staying healthy, cutting down on the walks, and continuing to work on his third pitch will all be crucial for super-athletic Fulton in 2022.
RHP Evan Fitterer
2021 Stats (A): 30.1 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.385 WHIP, 33/10 K/BB
Fitterer projects as a potential back end starter due to a decent four pitch mitch. All four pitches project as average eventually, and the fastball has sinking action that results in a lot of ground balls. A little more velocity would make that pitch more interesting, and there is a chance for that considering Fitterer’s age and size. His control greatly improved in 2021, with a very low BB rate. That came in a small sample size, but it would be a great sign for Fitterer if that continued considering he lacks a truly dominant out pitch. He was described by MLB Pipeline as looking similar to Kyle Hendricks, with better raw stuff, which is obviously high praise.
RHP Matt Givin
RHP Chris Mokma
LHP Luis Palacios
2021 Stats (A): 65 IP, 3.88 ERA, 0.985 WHIP, 66/16 K/BB
Prospects are rarely judged much on minor league statistics, nor should they be. But, some prospects have to be put on the radar because of the way they dominate the lower levels. That is what Palacios has done, despite stuff that does not put him on many scouts radars. He is very deceptive with his low velocity, and has superb control already. Palacios is not a ground ball pitcher, but gets a ton of infield fly balls. The deceptive delivery can only help there. If he wants to be more than a depth starter, he will need to add some velocity. That is still possible considering the age and size, but it better come soon.