Jabari Blash won a spot on the Padres' Opening Day roster after being selected as a Rule 5 pick in December. He was designated for assignment in May but ended up staying with the organization, spending the next two months at Triple-A El Paso. As expected, Blash showed power during his time in the Pacific Coast League, swatting 11 homers in 229 plate appearances and maintaining a level of plate discipline (41:66 BB:K) that he was unable to maintain against big league pitching. The Padres used Blash sparingly during his time on the 25-man roster, and he was limited to just 84 plate appearances as a result. With sporadic playing time in San Diego, he fanned at an astounding 40.5 percent clip and failed to make a case for regular starts. At age 27, he's looking like a Quad-A type.
With Alex Dickerson (back) out for at least the next 3-4 weeks of baseball activities, Blash could wind up with notable playing time early in the regular season. He has been one of spring's hottest players, raking to a .308/.441/.885 line with five home runs and 13 RBI in his first 26 March at-bats. As previously reported, Blash was expected to reach the 25-man roster, but Dickerson's continued absence gives Blash a chance to start a few games per week early on, as a potential bottom-side platoon player, facing left-handed pitchers while Travis Jankowski faces most righties. His raw power is legitimate, but at 27 years old, the odds are long that he will finally be able to make contact against big league pitching at an acceptable clip this season after posting a 40.5 percent strikeout rate in 84 plate appearances in 2016.
It is looking more likely that Blash makes the 25-man roster, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The slugging outfielder has firmly entrenched himself in the battle for one of the Padres' final roster spots with another strong spring (.364 with a Cactus League-leading five homers and 13 RBI). The player that was blocking his entry, Alex Dickerson, had a setback with the back injury that has held him out of action, putting his status for Opening Day in question. If Blash makes the cut, he'll likely end up on the short side of a platoon with Travis Jankowski. The only way he would garner fantasy attention would be if injuries opened up a regular role in the lineup.
Blash went 1-for-2 with his fifth home run of the spring in Friday's win over the Angels. Blash has incorporated a toe tap to help with his timing at the plate, and the results have been there for the 27-year-old. More importantly, it has helped with his patience. Blash has walked just as many times (six) as he has struck out this spring, something he struggled with mightily in his brief major league stint last season. Padres manager Andy Green said that the slugger is still behind Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski on the depth chart, but Blash is making his case for the Padres to bring him on as a bench bat, or at the very least, place him back on the 40-man roster.
Blash has added a toe tap to his swing and has experienced positive results with it so far this spring. Blash worked with hitting coach Alan Zinter in adding a toe tap "a la Sammy Sosa back in the day" in an effort to help the slugger improve his timing and plate discipline. He has gone 5-for-5 with three homers and 10 RBI since that change. Could it be a breakthrough? Possibly. However, fantasy owners do need to remember that Blash had a similarly spectacular spring training last season and flopped when he got his chance in the majors. The Padres already have four outfielders that they consider starting options for Opening Day, so Blash would have to hit his way onto the team as a fifth outfielder. He has power upside if he finds himself with an everyday role at some point this season, but having that kind of role by Opening Day would be a long shot.
Blash went 2-for-2 with his first spring training homer and five RBI in Tuesday's win over the Giants. Spring training doesn't truly start until Blash starts hitting home runs. The spring standout from last season took Clayton Blackburn deep, and he will likely continue abusing baseballs throughout the month. Blash finally got a taste of the majors lasts season, but was a huge disappointment against top-level pitching, slashing .169/.289/.324 in 84 plate appearances. The Padres likely learned their lesson, removing him from their 40-man roster this past offseason and placing him with Triple-A El Paso after clearing waivers. If San Diego didn't have such a young outfield loaded with potential, then the 27-year-old Blash could be given a chance, but it appears only an injury or two would open up a path to majors.