by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we think about San Diego outfielders there’s a long line of potential options…
It’s 27-year old Jabari Blash who is opening eyes this spring, however, and trying to force his way into the Opening Day lineup (and the injury to Alex Dickerson could make that far more likely). Through Sunday night he was hitting .364 with 5 HR and 13 RBI over 22 AB.
Power has never been among the questions facing him, it’s always been his ability to make contact and find playing time in a crowded outfield. Obviously no one is going to draw a conclusion over such a small sample size, but he has struck out just 7 times compared to 6 walks this spring. That’s a significant step in the right direction, considering these Triple-A numbers:
- 2014 (189 PA) – 30.2%
- 2015 (228 PA) – 27.6%
- 2016 (229 PA) – 28.8%
In 84 PA for the Padres last season he posted a 17.9% SwStr%, so it’s fair to wonder if an adjustment has been made. When you look at the tape, it’s obvious that he’s added a toe tap (which Jeff Sanders of The San Diego Union-Tribune (click here for the article) describes as having added a “rhythmic step to Blash’s power potential.”
It’s getting a lot of the credit for the impressive spring, as you can see from these quotes courtesy of Sanders:
“He was trying to do everything a hitter needs to do all at once when the pitcher was releasing the ball,” hitting coach Alan Zinter said. “Good hitters don’t do everything all at once. They kind of dance with the pitcher’s delivery.”
“I like the quality of the at-bats, I like the walks,” Green said. “I’ve always felt like he sees pitches well, but he sees them late. The toe tap is getting the body in early motion, which is triggering his decision-making quicker than it normally than it does.”
Added Blash: “It helps me with pitch recognition and being able to be in a better position to do some damage on pitches.”
So now the question is going to be if Blash can force the issue, leap-frogging two players and finding his way into the Opening Day starting lineup (something that’s becoming more likely by the day). He also may open the year at Triple-A, biding his time for an opportunity that will surely come if he continues to show improvement.
While he’s not a must grab by any stretch, if you are in a deeper league (like an NL-Only or dynasty format) he’s well worth stashing now. He’s always had power potential, and if he continues to show an improved strikeout rate the sky could be the limit.
Sources – Fangraphs, San Diego Union-Tribune
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|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|