2019 Draft Preview: JJ Bleday

We are writing prospect reports on players the White Sox might select in the June draft. This article is the third in our series. You can see the other reports we've already posted, here:

JJ Bleday

School: Vanderbilt

Position: OF

Height/Weight: 6’3”/205

B/T: L/L

DOB: 11/10/1997

Previously drafted: 2016. San Diego Padres in 39th round

Scouting Reports:

High school: Jeffrey Joseph Bleday is an A. Crawford Mosley High School product, out of Lynn Haven, Fla. He lettered all four years in high school and was a multi-sport athlete, spending two years playing golf and two years swimming. A natural athlete, Bleday holds six school swimming records in Pennsylvania, at his previous high school. Bleday was a two-way player in high school, winning back-to-back regional championships in Pennsylvania before winning two regional and district titles at A. Crawford Mosley in 2015 and 2016. The lefty earned first team All-State honors in his 2015-16 season and played summer ball with an array of prospects including Minnesota Twins OF prospect Alex Kirilloff.

College: Bleday was drafted by the Padres in the 39th round in 2016. He declined to join the Padres in order to attend Vanderbilt and play under Coach Tim Corbin. In 2017 during his freshman year, Bleday struggled, appearing in 51 games, starting 48. He posted a .256/.384/.341 slash line with two doubles and two home runs. He notably walked more than he struck out. His sophomore year was his coming out campaign, where he led The Commodores. He posted a .369/.494/.511 slash with five doubles, one triple and four home runs. His patience continued and he walked 31 times to just 23 strikeouts. JJ ended the season with a 28-game reached base streak and a 10-game hitting streak. Bleday recorded a hit in 32 of his 39 games and reached base in 38 of 39. The SEC outfielder found a power stroke in 2019. He recorded a .356/.468/.752 slash line with 25 home runs, 11 doubles and one triple. Bleday’s performance earned him a spot on the midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list.

Bleday is a corner outfielder with a natural bat. His frame is built for power, but until this year it was almost non existent. He is a below average runner and currently projects between an average and above average fielder.

Video courtesy of Perfect Game Baseball

Two Bleday homers against the Crimson Tide

Bleday joins High Heat

Bleday comes in at No. 5 on MLBPipeline’s top 200. He grades out with a 55 hit tool, a 55 power tool, a 40 run tool, a 60 arm tool, a 50 field tool and a 55 overall grade. MLB.com’s talent evaluators believe Bleday will be the first outfielder off the board. They had high praise for Bleday, placing him ahead of Vanderbilt’s previously drafted outfielders Jeren Kendall, Bryan Reynolds and Rhett Wiseman. MLB.com touts his baseball acumen saying his instincts in the outfield make up for his lack of physical speed.

Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs have Bleday as the top outfielder in the class but declined to include him in their top 100 prospects list. The dynamic duo first had Bleday going to the Reds, who could very well be the best player on the board if he falls to them at No. 7. In their May 14th update, they bumped Bleday up to No. 4 going to the Marlins. Miami Scouting Director D.J. Svihlik previously coached Bleday at Vanderbilt. 

Scouting Grades:

Note: These scouting grades are based on the projections at mlbpipeline.com.

Hit: 55

Power: 55

Run: 40

Arm: 60

Field: 50

Overall: 55

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:

Teams and talent evaluators alike aren’t beating down the door to draft Bleday, which might just be foolish. A plus-hitter with a high baseball acumen, Bleday hopes to prove the analysts wrong this June.

Bleday will likely be on the board when the White Sox pick at No. 3, but the historically outfield-heavy farm is once again outfield heavy. There’s such a thing as an embarrassment of riches, and drafting a bat-first left-handed outfielder would support that. But one can’t help but feel there’s more value if the White Sox drafted someone to fill a position of need.

Fangraphs tied Bleday to the the Marlins and the Reds, while Baseball America had the Tigers taking the dynamic Vandy-product.

If the power-explosion of this most recent season continues Bleday will make draft evaluators seem quite silly.

As for how Bleday could play into the White Sox, it’s a bit unclear. Besides being tied to CJ Abrams (current favorite) and Andrew Vaughn (past favorite, my personal favorite), Bobby Witt Jr. has also been tied to the Sox to a lesser extent. It’s not to say Bleday couldn’t end up a White Sox when everything is said and done, but I also wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

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Filed under: Draft Coverage

Tags: JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt

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