Jabari Blash, a 27-year old outfielder, was given the opportunity earlier this season to fill a platoon outfield/pinch hitter role to get his bat adjusted to the major leagues. However, with a stacked outfield to start the season (Upton Jr/Jay/Kemp), Blash was mainly seen as a pinch hitter.
His first major league at bat came as a pinch hit where he stood his ground for a walk on April 4th. It wasn’t until April 9th, against the Rockies, where he got his first hit and was eventually plated in for a run. The rest of April, Blash struggled tremendously.
In a total of 29 plate appearances he finished with just three hits and four walks and scoring two runs. He finished the month with a .158 batting average and a .304 OBP. He received just six more at bats in May, totaling zero hits and three strikeouts before being sent back down to Triple-A El Paso. While down in El Paso, Blash posted a .260/.373/.501 slash line with 11 home runs, 30 RBI, and 44 walks with 66 strikeouts.
After an injury to Jon Jay and the trades of Melvin Upton Jr. and Matt Kemp the Padres needed outfield starters. Blash was called up to fill the hole in right field to avoid using service time on Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. Blash’s first appearance was on July 31st where he registered a walk, hit, and a strike out in four plate appearances.
Since then, Blash has had 24 at bats putting up a .292 batting average with seven hits, two home runs, and four RBI. He also gone into the month of August developing a .452 OBP. He has reached on five walks while striking out only seven times. Chasing balls with two strikes is one thing that Blash has improved on, however it is still a big part of his game that he needs work on.
On top of his bat significantly improving, Blash has also proven he has very reliable defense, something the Padres haven’t seen in right field in a long time. He has a 1.000 FPCT, zero errors, 28 put outs and an assist on 29 total chances in 93 innings this year He’s no Matt Kemp at the plate, but in the field he can far exceed what Kemp was both able and willing to do.
Blash’s young fresh legs is something to look for when he is in the outfield or on the base paths. Prior to the Atlanta trade, anytime a ball was hit into right you just hoped Kemp would be within reaching distance of the ball.
Jabari Blash gives a new fresh feeling as you can now get excited anytime you see a ball flying towards deep or shallow right. This, along with watching his prestigious power make Jabari and exciting player to watch for the rest of the year.