Bleday finds his stroke in four-RBI effort

October 15th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- Sometimes the simplest approach is the best approach and that philosophy appears to be working for JJ Bleday.

The Marlins' No. 5 prospect (No. 71 overall) drove in four runs and collected a pair of hits as Mesa topped Scottsdale 13-5 on Thursday night at Sloan Park.

“I was in that mindset of ‘get it going,’” Bleday said. “’[You] might be seeing a new pitcher every at-bat so get ready to swing at every pitch and try to stay inside the baseball.’”

After struggling for the bulk of the 2021 season, his first with Double-A Pensacola, Bleday made some adjustments and caught fire in September.

“The difference was simplifying a few things mechanically, but mainly just honing in on a better approach and sticking to an approach and trusting [my] swing,” Bleday said.

After hitting .199 through the first four months of the season, the 23-year-old hit .311 in September (13 games) and had hits in seven of his final eight contests. That hot streak, and more importantly, his mindset, appears to have traveled to Arizona.

The 2019 first-round pick went hitless in his AFL debut but admitted he felt sluggish and wasn’t aggressive enough. That changed Thursday as he came through with a two-run double in the second inning and a base hit in the third, driving in two more runs in the process. Ultimately, Bleday reached four times, finishing 2-for-4 with two walks.

“I felt like I was in a very aggressive mindset, to where I was trying to hit everything,” Bleday said. “Just from there on out [it was] ‘trust your swing, stay inside the baseball. Hit strikes, take balls.”

The single helped extend Mesa’s breakthrough third inning. The Solar Sox broke the game open as they scratched across nine runs on nine hits and sent 15 men to the plate.

Troy Johnston, a fellow Marlins prospect, had a pair of run-scoring singles in the inning on his way to a 3-for-5, three-RBI night.

“We’re all pulling for each other,” Bleday said. “We’re all rooming together so that’s just great to have, one of your teammates -- not only here, but on the Miami Marlins as well -- do well.”

Logan Davidson (A’s No. 12) also turned in a strong offensive performance, reaching base in each of his five trips to the plate. Davidson, who drove in three and scored twice, doubled in each of his first two at-bats and finished his night with three consecutive walks.

In total, all nine Mesa starters reached base and scored and eight collected at least one hit. Seven players ended the night with multihit performances as well.

“It was great, fantastic,” Bleday said of Mesa’s offensive explosion. “Hitting is contagious and when we’ve got guys starting off the inning like that, everyone feeds off it and the rest just comes.”