Seattle Mariners Prospect Jabari Blash Has Intriguing Upside


Seattle Mariners prospect Jabari Blash flies under the radar, but he has intriguing upside that compares well to Arizona Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt.

Sometimes, a successful Major League Baseball player rises through the minors without much fanfare, yet he explodes onto the scene at the big league level. Arizona Diamondbacks first baseball Paul Goldschmidt is the perfect example.

In his recent article at, Looking for the Next Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Mitchell points out:

"Goldy raked in the minors, as well. Before the D-Backs called him up for the stretch run in 2011, he hit an absurd .306/.435/.626 in Double-A. In his two previous minor-league seasons, he hit a similarly absurd .321/.392/.617. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Goldschmidt ranked third, first and first, respectively, in his leagues by wRC+.Yet, despite his minor-league exploits, Goldschmidt was never really thought to be much of a prospect. Best I can tell, literally nobody included him in a single top-100 list. Baseball America ranked him 13th and 11th in the Diamondbacks organization the two years he was eligible. John Sickels had him in the 21-30 bucket and then 9th on his organizational list. Baseball Prospectus had him unranked and then 10th. Here at FanGraphs, Marc Hulet had him unranked and 11th. Heading into 2011, the year he broke into the major leagues, he ranked behind the likes of Bobby Borchering and Keon Broxton."

Mitchell goes on to find players that have put up Double-A numbers similar to those Goldschmidt had in 2011. Sixth on the list of ten players – behind well-known über prospects Miguel Sano and Kyle Schwarber, as well as Anthony Garcia, Zach Borenstein and Trevor Story, is Seattle Mariners prospect Jabari Blash.

A native of the US Virgin Islands, Blash was an eighth round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami Dade CC. The outfielder has largely flown under the radar through six professional seasons – at least in part because he was an eighth round pick like Goldschmidt and also because Blash has been relatively old for his level.

Now 26 years old, Blash is known to have better than average bat speed, a strong arm, decent speed, and explosive raw power that occasionally results in 450-foot moon shots. But Blash is no longer listed among the top 30 prospects in the Mariners’ organization according to, and he’s hasn’t spent much time in the top 20 over the past six seasons.

Of course, as we know, just because someone is a top prospect doesn’t mean they will succeed at the Major League level (or even make it there at all), and just because a player isn’t considered a top prospect doesn’t mean he won’t have a stellar big league career. See: Goldschmidt, Paul.

Blash’s Double-A numbers that earned Mitchell’s attention and compared well with the D-Back’s star include an impressive .309/.442/.619 slash with nine home runs in 120 plate appearances in 2013, which he followed with a .236/.387/.449 mark with 12 homers across a 37-game stretch in 2014. After a slow start in Triple-A this year, Blash was demoted and responded by hitting .278/.383/.517 with 10 home runs in 60 games and earned a spot on the Southern League All-Star squad.

right-handed power is one of the rarest tools in baseball today, and Blash has it.

On July 16, Blash was again promoted to Tacoma and he has gotten off to a great start. Through his first seven games, the slugger is hitting .269/.406/.538 with two long balls.

Having seen him a couple of times in Double-A, I can tell you that Blash certainly passes the eye-test. There aren’t many minor leaguers that look better in a uniform than the 6-foot-5, 225-pound slugger – he looks like a real-life Pedro Cerrano getting off the bus. However, Blash and Cerrano’s games share some unfortunate similarities – as in, “straight ball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid.

The 26-year old strikes out a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. In 2,114 professional plate appearances across 513 games, Blash has struck out 574 times for a career 27.2% strikeout rate – and it’s gotten worse recently. In 18 games this season with Triple-A Tacoma, that rate is up to 31.5% and he struck out 30.2% in 189 plate appearances last season with the Rainiers.

However, as much as he’s swung and missed, Blash has become much more patient at the plate and has done a relatively good job of laying off the many, many breaking balls he sees on a daily basis. He’s walked 15.1% of the time in Triple-A this year and walked in 12.5% of his Double-A plate appearances this season. In 2014, he walked 12.8% of the time. For comparison’s sake, David Ortiz, Matt Carpenter and Freddie Freeman each walked in roughly 13% of their plate appearances during the 2014 season. Mike Trout walked 12% of the time.

Also, regrettably, Blash’s strikeout rate isn’t the only thing that has kept him out of the big leagues. He lost 50 games last season because he was suspended for a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, having tested positive a second time for a drug of abuse. A third slip up would cost Blash 100 games.

More from MLB Prospects

Still, right-handed power is one of the rarest tools in baseball today, and Blash has it.

When he was suspended, Blash had 17 home runs and 57 RBI combined between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, which ranked seventh and 12th respectively among all minor leaguers. He has 91 career minor league homers, including 14 in 78 games so far this year.

With Nelson Cruz, Mark Trumbo and Mike Zunino in their lineup, right-handed power appears to be a tool that the Seattle Mariners covet as much as any other team in baseball. Yet while Blash may nearly be ready for his shot in the big leagues, he might not get it in Seattle.

The Mariners, who are currently in last place and 11 ½ games out of first in the American League West, are nine games under .500. However, the team isn’t expected to be a big seller at the trade deadline. With a record of 43-52, the M’s are the second worst team in the AL and are 7 ½ games out in the Wild Card standings. Yet with a roster of high-priced veterans built to contend this year and only 22 games left on their schedule against teams with winning records, there is still time for the team to make a push for the playoffs.

That means the team is unlikely to open up a spot in its crowded outfield for Blash, who isn’t a member of the Mariners 40-man roster.

Instead, should the Mariners actually look to acquire a veteran catcher or a reliever, as many analysts believe they will, Blash could be an option in a trade. Or, should he stay in the Mariners organization, Blash will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter. Unless Seattle protects him by adding him to the 40-man roster, any other team could take a chance at hitting a Goldschmidt-like home run by selecting Blash.

Whether he breaks through in Seattle or moves on elsewhere, given his tools and especially his right-handed power, Jabari Blash has very intriguing upside.

Next: MLB Prospects: Five Hidden Gems You Should Know