Jacob Berry finds early success in the Arizona Fall League

The former top draft pick is trying to salvage his underwhelming 2023 regular season with a strong showing in the AFL.

The Miami Marlins made Jacob Berry their first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft with the expectation that he could hit at a very high level. He’s showing some signs of reaching that potential in the Arizona Fall League, where he slashed .345/.424/.448/.872 with two RBIs through the first two weeks of action.

Berry was assigned to High-A Beloit at the beginning of the season. He struggled, slashing .227/.278/.369/.647 with only four home runs, 37 RBIs and an 80 wRC+ while frequently mishandling routine plays at third base.

“The first couple of months were eye-opening, to say the least,” said Berry in a media session a week ago. “I learned a lot about myself that’s going to help me in the future.”

But Berry gradually found consistency midway through the season, enough to earn his way to the AA level with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Despite facing better competition, he slashed .248/.301/.442/.743 with five home runs, 22 RBIs and a 94 wRC+. Although his strikeout percentage went just a tad higher, Berry’s walk percentage increased. He also moved down the defensive spectrum to play first base a lot more often after the promotion.

“When I got to Pensacola, I think it was just trying to be myself,” said Berry.

Berry was especially hot in late August—recording five multi-hit games in a nine-game span—when he suffered a foot contusion. That sidelined him for Pensacola’s September playoff run, but didn’t interfere with his readiness for the AFL.

Through eight games with the Peoria Javelinas, Berry seems to be seeing the ball a lot better and just making better contact overall.

As a switch-hitter, it’ll be important to monitor his results from both sides of the plate this season. Berry had big platoon splits during the regular season. From the right side, he slashed .275/.330/.517/.847 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. However, as a lefty, where the majority of his plate appearances come from, he slashed .221/.271/.354/.625 with five home runs and 41 RBIs.

“Left-handed just quite didn’t catch up this year as much as right-handed, but it just depends on the day,” said Berry. “Some days, right-handed is going great, some days left-handed is going great, some days both, some days neither of them are, but I really didn’t think that they were too far off.”

Another area of focus for Berry is his fielding. He has gone back to playing third on an everyday basis in the AFL. He was charged with three errors during a game on Oct. 7, but has played the position cleanly in his other starts.

“I gotta get better at every role, because that’s kinda me and my personality as it is,” said Berry. “Every ball, I want it to be perfect on, but that’s not possible, so I am going to keep working to be the best on every play and every opportunity that I get.”

The AFL season continues through Nov. 9. Track the progress of Berry and all other Marlins prospects here.

Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos

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