Blashing Off in San Diego

Credit: USA Today Sports

Credit: AP Photo

 

When Hunter Renfroe went on the DL with a strained neck coming out of the All-Star break, the Padres needed an outfielder to hold down the fort until he felt well enough to return.

 

Hello, Jabari Blash.

 

Jabari Blash was absolutely terrorizing PCL pitching before his promotion.

 

I know, it’s the PCL.

But still.

Quietly, he had a .291/.407/.631 slash line with a 162 wRC+ & 1.038 OPS in hitter-friendly El Paso. He also totaled 18 homers in 60 games.

Those are all career high numbers for the 28-year-old. The homers he was hitting weren’t cheapies, either. They were shots like this:

 

and this:

Jabari Blash made the 2017 big league club out of Spring Training after putting on a power display during exhibition games, but he struggled mightily (3-29 with 15 strikeouts) in fringe playing time before being demoted. Upon demotion, Blash decided to hurry up the process of trying to shorten his swing. He implemented a new toe tap, allowing him to catch up to fastballs at a much better clip. The new toe-tap is a timing thing that Blash is really seeming to adjust well to. He talks about it in more detail here:

Bob Scanlan on Fox Sports San Diego also reported something that was pretty interesting. He stated that Blash had been practicing with high-speed pitching machines to work on his timing; and he was practicing with higher speeds than he had ever practiced with before. According to Dennis Lin, during Spring Training, Mark McGwire and Alan Zinter worked feverishly to shorten Blash’s swing. Says Andy Green:

“His body’s in a better position, his swing’s shorter. He’s having good at-bats. He’s on a lot of pitches. He’s always had the eye, he’s always had the plate discipline. So that stuff’s all going to play into his favor now that his swing’s a little bit shorter.”

I am pretty sure the use of the high-speed pitching machine was in large part to him simply working on shortening his swing. As evidenced by his Triple-A/MLB performance, it seems to have worked.

In a short MLB sample size, the adjustments obviously seemed to have worked well at the plate. Blash is 11-24 with two home runs and four walks since his promotion, with seven strikeouts. He is continuing his best season as a professional, and that is really great to see. Jabari seems like a really good guy and has worked hard to transform his swing, and he is reaping the rewards. Mechanically, he is as sound as he has ever been. On a Padres team where the offense seems to be a drag sometimes, it is fun to watch a large human hit large home runs:

Hunter Renfroe came off the D.L. on Thursday in San Francisco, and Manuel Margot was placed on paternity leave. Once Margot comes back, it will be interesting to see the corresponding move. With Szczur, Cordero, Pirela, and even Cordoba already in the OF mix (besides Margot and Renfroe of course), it is kind of hard to see a place for Blash on the roster.

Regardless, he is doing all he can to make the Padres think twice about sending him back to El Paso, and he is making the most of his opportunity. It is fantastic to see.

For now at least, San Diego will continue to #Blashtoff into San Francisco.

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John Horvath
Baseball is fun. College sophomore that is aspiring to work someday in the sports industry. Follow me on twitter @Friar_Faithful. Go Pads!

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