Former Top Prospect Was “Blindsided” By Trade This Month

The Miami Marlins and Oakland A's pulled off a big trade earlier this month, swapping 2019 Top Six overall draft picks. Reliever AJ Puk, No. 6 pick, was sent to the Marlins, while outfielder JJ Bleday, the 4th pick, was shipped to Oakland. And Bleday, upon arriving at A's camp, admitted that the trade was "definitely a blindside."

Bleday even admitted to some bitterness towards his former team, "but once it kind of settled in, I’m really happy to be here," Bleday told reporters at A's camp. "I think it’s going to be a good fit and an exciting opportunity.”

His new manager, Mark Kotsay, certainly has plenty of confidence in Bleday:

"He's a high-ceiling type player that I don't think has tapped his potential yet," said Kotsay. "Anytime you get to the big leagues as accelerated as he did, it can be difficult the first time up."

Bleday, 25, after a solid first half of the year at Triple-A, where he hit 20 homers with an .835 OPS, struggled mightily in his adjustment to the big leagues after the Marlins called him up in late July. He hit .167 with Miami, with a .586 OPS and just five dingers in 238 plate appearances. 

"The jump from Triple-A to the big leagues was definitely bigger than I anticipated,” Bleday said. “There were some things in the big leagues I was doing mechanically that I probably shouldn’t have been. You’re really unaware of it but you have no time to work on that stuff. Because you’re playing every single day. There’s 95-plus on the mound every night. And it’s relentless."

He's hoping a fresh start at spring training, with plenty of time to prepare, will set him on the right track.

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports