The Blue Wahoos baseball season is now 79 days away as of Wednesday. An early peak into the future will be offered Thursday night in a free event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. when the third annual “Fish Fest” happens at Blue Wahoos Stadium, featuring player autographs, question-answer sessions, on-field activities for kids, information on tickets, plus other benefits.
Two players who figure to be on the Blue Wahoos’ 2024 opening day roster on April 5 – infielder Jacob Berry and pitcher Ike Buxton – will be attending Thursday’s free event, along with Pensacola Catholic grad Jordan McCants, who will begin his second full season in the Miami Marlins minor league system.
Those three will be greeting fans, signing autographs and handling a question-answer session inside the Blue Wahoos clubhouse, led by team broadcaster Erik Bremer.
Berry and Buxton both finished their 2023 seasons with the Blue Wahoos, then played as Marlins’ representatives in the Arizona Fall League during October. Berry was the Marlins’ No. 1 draft pick in 2022 from LSU. He sustained a foot injury in late August and missed the team’s final weeks, including the postseason games.
“It’s a big part of the selection process of who we send to these events… guys that we feel are going to start the year at that specific level,” said Hector Crespo, the Marlins director of minor league operations. “Ike and Jacob are high-character guys, obviously very talented. We wanted to give them a chance to be around in Pensacola, meet the people see the community.
“They both got some time (in Pensacola) last year but I think it’s something different in this kind of event when you meet people truly entrenched in the community and that we are reciprocating the same appreciation and love the fans give to the players.”
The Fish Fest on Thursday will begin the Blue Wahoos fourth season as the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate. The partnership has been strengthened with connections led by Blue Wahoos owners Quint and Rishy Studer, team president Jonathan Griffith and general manager Steve Brice.
“I can’t say enough good things about that group and how they treat our players,” said Crespo, who is in his ninth year with the Marlins organization. “I think it’s starts at the top. It starts with Quint and Jonathan and Steve. They set such a good precedent for what the organization is about.
“It is one that is built on family and creating an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and loves coming to support the team. It’s an honor to be able to work with them on a daily basis to create an environment that our players love to play in.”
The Fish Fest provides fans the chance to meet three players Crespo believes will be part of the Marlins future.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Third Annual Blue Wahoos “Fish Fest”
WHO: Two of Miami Marlins’ Top 30 prospects, infielder Jacob Berry and pitcher Ike Buxton, will be joined by Pensacola Catholic High grad Jordan McCants, who completed his first full minor league season as Marlins prospect.
WHEN: Thursday, general public access is 5:30-7 p.m. Blue Wahoos verified season-ticket holders will have special access beginning 5 pm,
WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium.
ADMISSION: Free. Fans asked to use online ticket link at www.bluewahoos.com/fishfest.
FOOD: A concession storefront will be open on the third-base side for food purchases. Season-ticket holders may bring their 2023 popcorn and soda containers for a $2 refill.
FORMAT: Players will sign autographs on second-level concourse, beginning at 5:30. A question/answer session that will begin at 6 p.m. with team owner Quint Studer, then team president Jonathan Griffith, plus the players, will occur from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside the Blue Wahoos clubhouse on the first baseside and thus allowing fans a visit inside the locker room. The Blue Wahoos Bait and Tackle Team Store will be open for shopping. Fans will be allowed to walk on the field for photos as well as inflatables will be set up for kids to play on the field.