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10 things to know about JJ Bleday

Vanderbilt outfielder is Marlins' top Draft pick
@mattkellyMLB
June 3, 2019

The Marlins selected Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday with the fourth overall Draft pick Monday. Here are 10 things to know about Bleday, MLB Pipeline's No. 5 overall Draft prospect.

The Marlins selected Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday with the fourth overall Draft pick Monday. Here are 10 things to know about Bleday, MLB Pipeline's No. 5 overall Draft prospect.

• If you watched the Vanderbilt Commodores in 2018, it probably felt like you saw Bleday on base just about every time. Over 39 total games, Bleday reached base in 38 of them and put up an incredible .494 on-base percentage while also hitting .368 and slugging .511. Bleday tied a Vanderbilt record when he drew five walks in a single game against Middle Tennessee.

• Bleday missed five and a half weeks of his sophomore season, and the Commodores went 8-14 in games without him. When Bleday was in the lineup, Vandy went 27-13.

• Last summer, scouts honored Bleday with the NcNeese Outstanding Pro Prospect Award as the Cape Cod League’s best player after he slashed .311/.374/.500 and hit five homers in the country’s top amateur wood bat league.

• Bleday then found his power stroke this past season as a junior, leading NCAA Division I with 25 homers while still maintaining a .328 average and 448 OBP. He was honored as the SEC Player of the Year.

• Bleday was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, USA Baseball’s honor given to the nation’s best amateur player, alongside teammate Austin Martin.

• Bleday’s homer count surpassed future big league slugger Pedro Alvarez (23 homers) for Vandy’s single-season school record. Alvarez went on to knock 162 homers in the Majors, including the Pirates’ longest tater (479 feet) under Statcast tracking.

• In February, Bleday put on a power show in front of Statcast cameras at Salt River Fields in Arizona, knocking a 107.5 mph homer that traveled a projected 438 feet.

• Bleday appears to have the even-keeled temperament required for the long grind of a big league season. Here’s how Bleday’s college coach, Tim Corbin, described his demeanor to MLB.com:

"He's just an older presence at the plate,” said Corbin. “Even though he's a junior, he performs like he's a guy who's been around the league for four or five years. Just an old soul, that's what he is; just an older kid, one of the most low-maintenance guys I've ever coached in my life. I say very little to him, he's kind of self-paced."

• One of Bleday’s best games as an amateur came in front of baseball royalty. On May 22, he went 5-for-5 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI in Vanderbilt’s 11-1 win over Auburn in the second round of the SEC Tournament -- with Yankees legend and current Marlins CEO Derek Jeter in attendance. Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, the Marlins’ special adviser for baseball operations, was also in Jeter’s box.

• Bleday also lettered in swimming and golf at Titusville (Pa.) High School, setting six school records in the pool. He led both Titusville and A. Crawford Mosley (Fla.) High Schools to regional titles on the diamond.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.