By Patrick Brewer, Managing Editor
This is the first in a new weekly series that will be highlighting up and coming prospects from around Minor League Baseball.
On December 2nd, the Padres made a trade with the Oakland Athletics, sending 1B Yonder Alonso and LHP Marc Rzepcyznski to the A’s in return for LHP Drew Pomeranz, prospect Jose Torres and a player to be named later. On December 10th, that trade was made complete when the Oakland Athletics selected prospect Jabari Blash from the Seattle Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft, and turned around and sent him to San Diego as the player to be named later in that original trade. While there are obviously bigger pieces in this trade, Blash will be the focus for my purposes going forward.
An eighth round pick in the 2010 June Amateur Draft, Blash spent the entirety of his minor league career with the Mariners prior to his Rule 5 pick by the Athletics and subsequent trade to the Padres. At 6’5’’ 218 pounds, the 26-year-old outfielder is a true physical specimen. After splitting time between Double A and Triple A in 2014, Blash once again did the same in 2015 after starting the year in Double A and finishing it in Triple A. As a prospect, Blash has long been an enigma, with differing opinions about his long term potential and viability as a major leaguer in the future.
To get a better idea of the kind of player Blash is, one need look no further than his 2015 season, that as stated above was split between Double A and Triple A. Blash played an almost equal amount of time at both levels, 60 and 56 games respectively, and finished with very similar numbers overall at each level. Below is a table view of his 2015 Double A numbers and his Triple A numbers compared, with his numbers from 2014 thrown in for added comparison.
.278/.383/.517 wRC+ 155 Walk % 12.5% K% 24.2 % ISO .239 10 home runs 34 RBIS 60 games 248 plate appearances
.264/.355/.640 wRC+ 157 Walk %12.3 % K% 27.6 % ISO .376 22 home runs 47 RBIS 56 games 228 plate appearances
.236/.387/.449 wRC+ 135 Walk 17.2 % K 21.5 % ISO .213 6 home runs 22 RBIS 37 games 163 plate appearances
.210/.312/.481 wRC+ 101 Walk 9 % K 30.2 % ISO .272 12 home runs 37 RBIS 45 games 189 plate appearances
As is pretty evident by the numbers, Blash has gotten better at each stop he has made over the last two years. Despite a poor showing after his promotion to Triple A in 2014, Blash has recovered and had an even better showing in his second try at Triple A this season. The numbers really speak for themselves. In almost every category, Blash had his best half season ever in Triple A this year.
It’s a pretty well accepted fact that Jabari Blash is going to strike out a lot at any level. He has shown that throughout his minor league career, and there is no reason to think that will change anytime soon. However, his power numbers, as well as his ability to draw walks at a decent enough clip, bode well for his future. Add to that above average speed for a player his size, and good enough defense in the outfield, and Blash very well could stick at the major league level, despite being quite an enigma to this point.
There have been quite a few hiccups in Blash’s development over the past several years, but some good signs are there. With voids to fill in both left field and center field, and with Travis Jankowski, Melvin Upton, and Jon Jay fighting for playing time, Blash may very well be able to carve a niche for himself in the Padres outfield. Given his raw talent, there remains a good chance Blash will stick on the Padres this year and be a part of the team for years to come.