When the San Diego Padres traded Yonder Alonso to the Oakland Athletics for Drew Pomeranz, a player to be named later was part of the deal. That player turned out to be outfielder Jabari Blash whom was selected by the A’s from the Seattle Mariners with the first pick of the 2016 Rule-5 draft.
The Padres are very pleased so far with Blash and the fan base has really embraced the slugger. The 6′ 5″ Blash is a physical specimen and hits tape measure home runs with ease to all parts of the field. The native of the Virgin Islands smacked 32 home runs last season in the Mariners farm system. At 26, Blash is just starting to blossom as a hitter and the Padres might have plucked someone very special from the M’s organization.
The mammoth outfielder has unreal power potential but does strike out a lot too. He struck out 123 times last season in 406 at bats. He did however walk a lot too (59 times) so he put up a respectable .370 on base percentage. Unusual numbers for a slugger and someone who swings and misses so often.
His numbers are similar to what former major league Adam Dunn used to put up. Dunn like Blash, had a lot of power and a strange strike out to walk ratio. Adam Dunn was a productive major league player, so there is no reason Blash cannot be one too. He does however need to work on his strike out rate while at the same time continue to draw base on balls. Not an easy task, but the slugger has reportedly been working very hard this Spring.
Can Blash make the team? Being that he is a Rule-5 guy he will have to be kept on the Padres roster the whole year in order to remain a Padre. That is going to be tough, but Blash is making a case for sticking with the Padres. He is 2-19 with one home run and 11 strike outs so far this SPring (through Monday). Not the best of numbers but he has walked six times resulting in a .343 on base percentage. As advertised Blash seems to either hit a home run, walk or strike out in his at bats.
Right now Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr. and Jon Jay look to be the starting outfield. Travis Jankowski could remain with the team as the fourth outfielder or the Padres might elect to send him down to Triple-A for more seasoning. Blash could make the team as a backup outfielder but in playing sparingly, the team will not get a chance to properly evaluate him as a player.
Sure Blash could get a spot start here and there, but the Padres are invested in Upton and Kemp. Jon Jay is the teams best defensive outfielder, so he needs to play as much as possible. First year manager Andy Green has some tough decisions to make as far as who will get playing time in the outfield.
Jabari Blash will be given every opportunity to make this team. His bat is very intriguing and the Padres could always make a move freeing up playing time for the young slugger. A.J. Preller is very capable of anything when it comes to the design of the Padres. Jabari Blash is loved by the fans already, but he will need to show some consistency at the plate to remain a Padre. Just under three weeks to decide his future. Expect to see Blash play often as the team tries to decide his fate with the team.