For those who watched Vanderbilt baseball last year, it should be no surprise that outfielder JJ Bleday is regarded as a top pro prospect for the 2019 draft. Simply put, his impact on the lineup was staggering.
In his 39 games played, Bleday slashed .368/.494/.511 (yes, you read that right, Moneyball Bleday was on base in nearly half of his plate appearances). Further, in the five and a half weeks Bleday missed due to injury, Vanderbilt slipped to 8-14 (losing the first five games of Bleday’s absence, to boot). When he returned, the boys immediately picked it up, going 10-5 and were an eyelash short of a trip to Omaha. Overall, the team played at an impressive .675 clip (27-13) with him, but were a .364 team without him.
In other words, the 2018 Commodore squad were basically the Boston Red Sox with Bleday, and the Chicago White Sox without him.
Bleday’s bat has not been as hot (again, the man was on base damn near half the time) in the Cape Cod League, but he has hit .311/.374/.500 in the top wood bat league in the land, which was enough to pique the curiosity of the MLB scouts in attendance. Yesterday, he was awarded the McNeese Outstanding Pro Prospect Award.
Congratulations to JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt) of the @firebirds_ccbl who was presented with the McNeece Outstanding Pro Prospect Award as selected by the MLB scouts! #CapeLeague pic.twitter.com/G32H1BpUlH— Cape League (@Official_CCBL) August 4, 2018
For those who don’t know, the Cape Cod League is where college baseball’s top rising sophomores and juniors play summer ball, and its importance for scouts cannot be overstated. Though the BBCOR era has pretty much leveled out the aluminum bat’s previously inflated effect on NCAA hitting stats, scouts value the Cape Cod League for 1) Seeing how hitters perform with wood bats, and 2) The level of competition is higher for most players, as all who are invited are legitimate pro prospects (of course, the difference in competition is less stark for SEC players).
As such, being named Outstanding Pro Prospect will place Bleday firmly on the prospect watch lists of major league teams, and give him a good chance to go high in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Again, we knew he was that good. Now they do, as well.
In other Vandy Baseball Summer League news, incoming freshman pitcher Makenzie Stills (pictured, on the right), was named Pitcher of the Month for the Futures League (where Corbin has sent a good number of incoming freshman the past two years, so they get a taste of playing against college aged players before Fall Ball begins).
The @OnDeckSports Pitcher of the Month for July is @VandyBaseball commit Makenzie Stills and the Player of the Month (and MVP) is @OswegoBaseball Outfielder Mike Dellicarri both of the @WooBaseball! Link: https://t.co/hvphqmuYfl pic.twitter.com/Ojz3XagVMZ— The Futures League (@FuturesLeague) August 4, 2018
Conquer and prevail.