What the Padres Might Have in Jabari Blash


Have you heard about this Jabari Blash guy? He was one of the four Rule 5 guys the Padres picked up in early December – the only position player in the bunch. Dude’s supposed to have monster power – hit 22 homers in 56 games at AAA last season. In case you don’t have your calculator handy, let me do the math for you.

That’s a homer every 2.54 games, or if you work it over 162 games, that’s 64 homers.

Yeah, I know it’s AAA, and I know it’s a small sample size. But he did actually hit a baseball over a fence 22 times. That would have put him third on the Padres behind Upton’s 26 and Kemp’s 23. And he did it over a span of only two months. Add that to the ten he hit at Double-A before being promoted, and he had 32 homers in 116 games.

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This is the kind of power that changes lineups.

So why is he available? Why did the Mariners leave him unprotected, and the A’s trade him to San Diego as the PTBNL in the Yonder Alonso-for-Drew Pomeranz trade?

Well for one, like a lot of power hitters, he strikes out a ton. In those 56 games, he also struck out 63 times. Don’t worry, I’ve still got my calculator open – that’s 182 strikeouts over 162 games. And for another, he got suspended for 50 games last season for a banned substance. Not steroids or HGH, this was apparently for recreational drugs. And you don’t get the 50-game suspension until the second time you’re caught.

So we’ve got a 26-year old with ridiculous power who’s either smoking pot or doing coke or taking some other boneheaded drug. And who’s been caught twice.

So that’s why the Padres got him cheap. But Blash was showing big improvements in his hitting last season before the suspension. In 2014, he hit .236 in AA and .210 in AAA. Then last year, he hit .278 in AA and .264 in AAA.

He’s also had a good eye all through the minors, collecting a .369 OBP overall.

So what we might have in Blash is a monster power hitter who’s able to put up a respectable average and get on base at a really good clip.

Or, we might have a guy who strikes out so much that keeping in the lineup all the time costs the team wins. Or we might have an immature kid who can’t keep his hands off the bong even when the prospect of tens of millions of dollars is looming in front of him. Or we might just have one of the many, many players who are decent in the minors, and can’t quite cut it at the big league level.

But it’s the offseason. So we get to hope for the best. Let’s root for Blash to be the Padres’ first 40-homer guy since Adrian Gonzalez.