Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday could be an option for the San Diego Padres with their #6 pick in the upcoming MLB Amateur Draft.
The San Diego Padres, home to the current number one overall farm system in baseball, are about to get richer. With the sixth overall pick in the upcoming MLB Draft, a farm system full of talent is on the verge of potentially adding another impact player.
This six or seven-piece series will take an in-depth look at who the Padres could select with the sixth overall pick in the draft. These are not predictions, but instead just breaking down some potential options that may or may not be available when San Diego is on the clock.
Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday is first on this list. Several baseball analysts believe that Bleday might be the pick for the Padres if he’s there, as San Diego already selected the left-hander with their 39th round pick in 2016. Bleday elected to go to college instead of signing with the Friars and became a key piece for the Commodores offense last season.
Bleday has to be considered the best outfielder in this class and one of the better left-handed bats available. He led the Commodores with a .368/.494/.511 slash line as a Sophomore, despite missing time with an oblique injury. He’s wholly elevated his overall game in 2019, as Bleday is currently slashing .346/.461/.748 in 55 games this year, and while the hitting numbers are similar, his power has reached a whole new level. Bleday only hit four home runs all of last year but has shattered that number in 2019 with an NCAA-leading 25 home runs. His 55-grade power is on full display, and his 6’3″ frame suggests that there could potentially be some more power to tap into. Some might say that Bleday’s power numbers are skewed because of the metal bats used in college baseball. While that may be true, the 21-year-old hit more home runs with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League (five) than he did with the Commodores in 39 games last year (four).
Weight: 205 pounds
Unlike most power hitters, scouts have also given Bleday a 55-grade hit tool, and they like his ability to provide more than just power at the plate. Bleday sets up slightly open but does a great job of squaring himself up after his load. While his hands do appear to drop a little bit during his load, he has such excellent control over his entire swing that it should not be much of an issue. His swing is sweet and simple, as there are not a ton of moving parts and Bleday consistently stays inside the baseball. He can hit to all fields and makes consistent hard contact, which is a positive sign.
Defensively, there is nothing to suggest that Bleday can’t be a solid defender as he progresses. In high school, Bleday was a swimmer and also pitched for his high school baseball team. He’s undoubtedly a solid athlete and scouts say he already has advanced peripherals for an outfielder. Bleday pitched in high school and threw in the upper 80’s off the mound, which is partly one of the reasons why scouts gave him a 60-grade on his arm. He’s not going to be a center fielder moving forward, but Bleday could certainly be an above-average corner outfielder once he fully matures.
Bleday might be an intriguing pick for the Padres at six simply because of how quickly he could rise through the system. He’s already 21 years old, and his particular skill set as a hitter suggests that he could ascend quite rapidly to the big leagues. With the team moving closer and closer to contention, Bleday’s maturity and near impact might be attractive enough for the Padres to select him with the sixth overall pick.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.