Spectometer Plateau Leap Alert: Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash is fun.  Never any doubt about that.
Of course, just saying “Jabari Blash” is fun.
And when you have a slugger named “Blash” who routinely deposits balls in the seats, then the “Blash Splash” tag is a natural.  And that’s fun too.
But is Jabari Blash more than just fun to follow?  Is he a legit prospect?
Prior to 2013, I have said “not really.”  But now … “maybe.”
Absolutely, certainly … maybe!
First off, Blash is the epitome of the dreaded “raw, toolsy” prospect.  I tend to be biased against the “raw, toolsy” prospects.  Not per se but only the ones that quite evidently lack “plate skills.”
Alex Liddi was always a raw, toolsy prospect who lacked plate skills.  Michael Saunders was raw and toolsy, but didn’t lack plate skills.  Get the difference?
Can one succeed long-term in the majors without “plate skills”?  Yes … but …
You have GOT to be a slugger.  Moreover, you have got to be a “slugger who walks.”

Meaning: if you’re going to strike out a lot, then hit homers in about 4% of plate appearances and walk in about 10% of PAs.  Otherwise, you’re in trouble.
Carlos Peguero (even setting aside his wife’s felonious hijinks): had the power, but never walked nearly enough.  
Casper Wells: in the end, didn’t have enough power or draw enough walks (he teased with his power, but has only averaged 3.3% HR/PA).
Compare and contrast: Mark Reynolds: 5.1% HR/PA and 11.6% BB/PA.  He can make it work, though he’s not an all-star or anything with that high K%.
Or compare the Uptons.
Justin is consistently over 110 OPS+, at 6.0 RC/27 and .350 wOBA.
B.J. is inconsistent and around 100 OPS+, 4.7 RC/27 and .325 wOBA.
They both walk (10.4% Justin; 10.5% B.J.), but Justin has been a slugger who walks (3.7% HR/PA) while B.J. has not (2.8% HR/PA) (that’s not really above average).
In other words, if you want your “raw, toolsy” guy to be on target for long-term success, you want him to look more like Justin than B.J.
So what about Blash?
First, a little background.  He’s from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where baseball is not a huge sport, and was not an “out-playing-ball-every-day” kid.  He’s clearly on the “raw” side of that equation.
Second, he’s a stud athlete and 6-foot-5, 225.  Obviously, on the “toolsy” side as well.
He was drafted out of his V.I. high school in the 29th round by the White Sox, but chose to attend junior college at Miami-Dade (a top program).  After a year there, the Rangers drafted him in the 9th round, but he turned down $250,000 to return.  Then he was suspended from the team the following year, but the Mariners took him anyway in the 8th round.
Interestingly, Baseball America had him at No. 47 on this list of Floridians in the 2010 draft, with Manny Machado and Chris Sale at the top of it.
So he was already a bit old when he was sent to Pulaski, and he’s fought through injuries and inconsistency since then.
As a result, 2013 was his age-23 season, and he still hadn’t advanced past Low-A Clinton.  It was put-up-or-shut-up time, and I was so discouraged by his .245/.355/.433 2012 season, that I dropped him out of the Spec66 and down to the “Watch List.”
Was that warranted?  
Let’s see.
In 2010, in his first partial season, he hit homers in 3.9% of PAs and walked in 10.2%.  That’s fairly good “slugger who walks” territory, except his K% was 32.1% … super-high, and not sustainable.
In 2011, he improved a lot.  In fact, 2011 could be his first plateau leap.  He homered in 3.6% of PAs (very good, but not monster-slugger territory), and his BB% jumped to 16.9%!  That walk rate was so off-the-chart that it didn’t seem repeatable (and it hasn’t been), but still a sign that maybe something was going on here.  And his K% dropped, but almost anything would be a drop from 32.1% (it fell to a still-high 27.6%).
Then in 2012 he stayed parked at Clinton, and didn’t really show any progress at all.  He didn’t homer more, walk more or strikeout less.
So, indeed, he was on the verge of falling off the map, after an age-22 season in Low-A that didn’t show any progress.
But, ah … 2013.
He started in High-A High Desert, and that distorts his stats.  So a 23-year-old with power going bonkers in the thin, windy air of Adelanto doesn’t necessarily prove much.
But a pretty tour it was, as he banged out 16 homers in just 80 games, kept that walk rate high, and kept the K% within reason (for a “slugger who walks” mind you) at 25.6%.
And, more importantly, he earned what he needed most: a promotion to AA Jackson.  That’s where we’d see if this was a desert mirage or a real plateau-leap.
And it was only 29 games and 120 PAs, but …
Let’s look at those “slugger who walks” numbers at Jackson:
HR/PA = 7.5%
BB/PA = 16.7%
K/PA = 23.3%
Those, my friends, are remarkable numbers.  Compare Chris Davis, whom, as you know, hit 53 deep balls this year:
HR/PA = 7.9%
BB/PA = 10.7%
K/PA = 29.6%
Or Giancarlo Stanton, the ultimate “slugger who walks” (admittedly, a down year):
HR/PA = 4.8%
BB/PA = 14.7%
K/PA = 27.8%
Now, you obviously can’t just project MLB numbers from AA.  But Blash needed to show he could hit at AA to get on the map for real … and boy did he.
Turbo-premium stat drill-down:
Traditional stats:
Year
Age
Lev
G
PA
AB
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
2010
20
Rk
32
127
109
29
6
1
5
20
1
1
13
44
0.266
0.362
0.477
0.839
2011
21
A–A
99
391
319
84
21
4
14
56
15
5
66
108
0.263
0.396
0.486
0.882
2012
22
A
113
471
400
98
20
5
15
50
13
7
60
134
0.245
0.355
0.433
0.787
2013
23
A+-AA
109
452
380
103
19
3
25
74
15
9
60
113
0.271
0.381
0.534
0.915
4 Seasons
353
1441
1208
314
66
13
59
200
44
22
199
399
0.260
0.375
0.483
0.857
2013 splits from baseball-reference.com:
Split
G
PA
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
SB
CS
BB
SO
BA
OBP
SLG
OPS
Total
108
452
380
55
103
19
3
25
74
15
9
60
113
0
0.381
0.534
0.915
Home
50
213
178
35
51
12
1
16
39
8
3
29
53
0
0.390
0.635
1.025
Away
58
239
202
20
52
7
2
9
35
7
6
31
60
0
0.372
0.446
0.818
vs RHP as RHB
104
347
289
74
15
3
17
63
46
87
0
0.372
0.505
0.877
vs LHP as RHB
52
105
91
29
4
0
8
15
14
26
0
0.410
0.626
1.036
April
12
54
48
14
16
2
2
6
17
4
1
4
17
0
0.389
0.833
1.222
May
25
102
86
12
24
5
1
7
20
4
2
14
24
0
0.382
0.605
0.987
June
17
71
59
6
14
4
0
2
7
4
3
8
22
0
0.352
0.407
0.759
July
25
105
90
10
19
5
0
1
9
2
2
14
22
0
0.324
0.300
0.624
August
27
113
91
13
29
3
0
9
21
0
1
20
28
0
0.451
0.648
1.100
September
2
7
6
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0.286
0.167
0.452
2 outs, RISP
73
103
81
22
6
1
5
29
20
27
0
0.427
0.556
0.983
vs. Younger Pitchers
87
261
217
57
12
3
16
51
36
69
0
0.375
0.567
0.942
vs. Older Pitchers
83
191
163
46
7
0
9
27
24
44
0
0.387
0.491
0.878
Spectometer Plate Skills Stats:

—   BB% highlighted if over 8.5% (0.085)

—   (XBH + BB)% highlighted if over 19% (0.190)

—   K% highlighted if under 20% (0.200)

—   “+/-” is a measure of composite plate skills measuring the extent to which the hitter increased or decreased his average chance of reaching base compared to a “typical” plate appearance.  Highlighted if over +1.5.

G
PA
AB
H
2b
3b
HR
BB
K
BB/PA
XBH+ BB/PA
K/PA
“+ / -“
20
Pulaski
Rk
32
127
109
29
6
1
5
13
44
0.102
0.197
0.346
-2.277
21
Everett
A-
57
229
195
57
16
3
11
28
65
0.122
0.253
0.284
2.212
21
Clinton
A
42
162
124
27
5
1
3
38
43
0.235
0.290
0.265
7.557
22
Clinton
A
113
471
400
98
20
5
15
60
134
0.127
0.212
0.285
0.739
23
High Desert
A+
80
332
283
73
16
3
16
40
85
0.120
0.226
0.256
2.338
23
Jackson
AA
29
120
97
30
3
0
9
20
28
0.167
0.267
0.233
7.428
Spectometer Production Stats:
—   HR% highlighted if over 4% (0.040); indicates potential sufficient slugging to overcome high K%
—   (XBH + BB)% highlighted if over 19% (0.190)
—   ISO (SLG – BA) highlighted if over .200
—   Production Index is measure of composite production measuring the extent to which hitter needs to “depend on luck” to attain a high OPS.  Highlighted if below .300.
G
PA
AB
H
2b
3b
HR
BB
K
HR/PA
XBH+BB / PA
ISO
Production Index
20
Pulaski
Rk
32
127
109
29
6
1
5
13
44
0.039
0.197
0.211
0.412
21
Everett
A-
57
229
195
57
16
3
11
28
65
0.048
0.253
0.282
0.212
21
Clinton
A
42
162
124
27
5
1
3
38
43
0.019
0.290
0.129
0.389
22
Clinton
A
113
471
400
98
20
5
15
60
134
0.032
0.212
0.188
0.373
23
High Desert
A+
80
332
283
73
16
3
16
40
85
0.048
0.226
0.247
0.275
23
Jackson
AA
29
120
97
30
3
0
9
20
28
0.075
0.267
0.310
0.179
Spectometer Three Numbers:
—   Plate Skills Index is “+/-” rescaled to 100.
—   Production Index is rescaled to 100.
—   Composite combines the other two in the same manner as OPS+ combines OBP+ and SLG+.
—   “100” reflects not league average but a typical minimum for players who go on to succeed in the majors.
—  In order to project a possibility of MLB success, a player would need to show at least some scores above 100.
G
PA
AB
H
2b
3b
HR
BB
K
Pl Sk
Prod
Comp
20
Pulaski
Rk
32
127
109
29
6
1
5
13
44
62
75
37
21
Everett
A-
57
229
195
57
16
3
11
28
65
107
136
143
21
Clinton
A
42
162
124
27
5
1
3
38
43
161
82
143
22
Clinton
A
113
471
400
98
20
5
15
60
134
92
87
79
23
High Desert
A+
80
332
283
73
16
3
16
40
85
108
117
125
23
Jackson
AA
29
120
97
30
3
0
9
20
28
159
146
205
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