Minor League Report: Rainiers hope for blasts from Blash

Contributing writerMay 4, 2014 

The Tacoma Rainiers added a big power hitter to the lineup with the promotion of outfielder Jabari Blash from Double-A Jackson on Wednesday.

Blash is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound native of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The Mariners drafted him in the eighth round of the 2010 draft, after he had spent two seasons playing for Miami Dade College.

After an uneventful year-and-a-half in the low minor leagues, Blash broke out in 2013.

Blash opened last season with Advanced-A High Desert, hitting .258 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs in 80 games. But he emerged after a late-season promotion to Double-A Jackson, where he hit nine homers and batted .309 in 29 games.

He returned to Jackson at the start of this season, only to find that Southern League pitchers wanted nothing to do with him.

“Jabari Blash was being pitched really tough in the Southern League,” said Mariners director of player development Chris Gwynn, the younger brother of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. “We really don’t have a lot of power threats on that team, so when he came up they tried to not let him beat them. He’s been really good, he’s taking his walks and getting big hits.”

Blash batted .262 with five homers for Jackson in 25 games this year. He led the league by drawing 22 walks, giving him a robust .418 on-base percentage

Patience has always been a part of Blash’s approach. Entering Saturday’s game, Blash has drawn 222 walks in 1304 career at-bats.

Blash went 1-for-12 his first three games with Tacoma, although he did hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the Rainiers’ 6-4 come-from-behind victory against Las Vegas on Friday night.

ACES LOSE ACE

Arizona Diamondbacks top prospect Archie Bradley landed on Triple-A Reno’s disabled list this week with a mild flexor strain in his right elbow.

The 21-year-old right-hander was ranked No. 9 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list entering the season, but is off to a slow start in his first Triple-A season. In five starts, Bradley went 1-4 with a 5.18 ERA.

Bradley’s injury leaves Aces right-hander Noah Syndergaard as the top-ranked pitching prospect in the Pacific Coast League. Syndergaard is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday night at Cheney Stadium.

TAVERAS’ ANKLE OK

St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras is on his second tour of the PCL with Triple-A Memphis, but things are different this time: he’s actually playing.

Considered one of the top hitters in all of the minor leagues, Taveras was limited to 46 games last season due to a severe ankle sprain.

Now healthy, Taveras carried a 16-game hitting streak into Saturday’s game. The 21-year-old is batting .313 with five homers and an .886 OPS (on-base plus slugging).

Taveras entered the season ranked the No. 3 prospect on Baseball America’s Top 10 list.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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