JJ Bleday

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Jeffrey Joseph Bleday

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder JJ Bleday was the 4th overall pick of the 2019 amateur draft, by the Miami Marlins, out of Vanderbilt University. He grew up in Pennsylvania and started high school there, then moved to Panama City, FL after two years. After graduating, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft, but chose to go to college instead. At Vanderbilt, he was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2019 when he led all NCAA Division I players with 26 home runs. He hit .354 and had 68 RBIs.

He began his professional career in 2019 with the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League where he hit .257 in 38 games with 3 homers and 19 RBIs. He then missed the 2020 season when the minors were shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic, and returned in 2021 with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos of the Double-A South, where he played 110 games but hit a disappointing .212/.323/.373. He did hit hit 22 doubles and 12 homers. He played a lot better in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .325/.434/.602 in 20 games, and then being named MVP of the circuit's All-Star Game.

In 2022, he began the season in AAA with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp of the International League and hit .229 in 85 games but with good power (13 doubles and 20 homers). The Marlins decided to give him a look at the major league level and he made his debut on July 23rd and played regularly the final two months and a bit of the season, appearing in 65 games. He did not hit much, batting .167, although he showed some flashes of talent, with decent power (10 doubles, 2 triples and 5 homers) and 21 runs scored. The Marlins used him in all three outfield spots, although mainly in center field. It wasn't clear however if he had done enough to convince the team to give him a starting job the following season, and the questions were answered on February 11, 2023, when he was traded for another former top draft pick, pitcher A.J. Puk of the Oakland Athletics, who had finally managed to put in a full season at the major league level after years of battling injuries. The A's were rebuilding and in a position to allow Bleday to have some playing time while finding his footing at the major league level.

JJ played 82 games for Oakland in 2023, seeing time at all three outfield spots, and hitting .195 with 10 homers and 267 homers. He managed to cut down a bit on his strikeouts and increase his walks, improving his OBP to .310 and his OPS+ to 88. He continued those improvements in the first two months of 2024 as he now had a job as the team's regular centerfielder. On June 7th, he hit the first walk-off homer of his career, connecting off Chad Green of the Toronto Blue Jays on the first pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning for a 2-1 Oakland win.

His brother Adam Bleday pitched in the minor leagues and then went into coaching.

Further Reading[edit]

  • William Boor: "Marlins' Bleday earns Fall Stars MVP honors", mlb.com, November 13, 2021. [1]
  • Christina De Nicola: "Bulked-up Bleday ready to take '22 by storm", mlb.com, Febriary 4, 2022. [2]
  • Christina De Nicola: "In 'surreal' moment, Bleday homers, girlfriend winds up with ball", mlb.com, August 10, 2022. [3]
  • Joe Frisaro: "Marlins get their prize in JJ Bleday at No. 4", mlb.com, June 3, 2019. [4]
  • Jordan McPherson (Miami Herald): "JJ Bleday’s MLB debut with the Marlins has come and gone. Now ‘the real work begins’", Yahoo! News, July 25, 2022. [5]

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