Going Deep: All That Jazz Chisholm

One of the things that I find super interesting in the game of baseball is when a player, specifically a prospect, changes teams. The new organization has time to mold their newest prospect into the player they think he should be. That can create some changes in approach and swing.

Jazz Chisholm was traded to the Miami Marlins from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline. That means the Marlins have had a few weeks to implement their game plan and mechanical changes. The move could be a very good thing for the struggling left-handed bat of Chisholm, but so far, there are not a ton of changes to write home about.

The stance is usually a good place to start when looking for changes, but there is a lot more that can be altered. For Chisholm, at least early on, it looks like he has a more aggressive approach based on a near 10% dip in strikeouts. Now this is a VERY small sample size, to be clear, 53 at-bats vs. 314. But when changing organizations anything can be an adjustment from the new club. His strikeout percentage in the Marlins organization is 30% with a walk rate of 11%. With the Diamondbacks it was 39% and 13%.

In 2018, Chisholm slashed a combined .272/.339/.513 across the Single-A and High-A levels. This year is his fourth year in organized ball, and at 21 years old, he’s getting his first taste of Double-A. Obviously, the bulk of his time has been spent with the Jackson Generals, where he had a 113 wRC+ while slashing .204/.305/.427. In his 15 games with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp he’s at a 151 wRC+ with a .226/.328/.472 slash line.

 

Strikeout Concerns

 

The number that stands out the most for Chisholm is the strikeout rate. Through 104 games this year he has 139 strikeouts, good for a fairly alarming 33% strikeout rate. That is an even 400 strikeouts through 307 games in his career. He couples that with an 11.1% walk rate.

Even while barely hitting above the Mendoza line, Chisholm has managed average production in terms of wRC+. Look no further than his .223 ISO during his 89 games in the Diamondbacks system in 2019. He hit 18 homers and five triples along with swiping 13 bags. Chisholm already has three long balls with his new club in just 53 at bats.

One lacking aspect so far is Chisholm’s ability to hit lefties. While neither of his splits are amazing, there is a lot more to be desired in the lefty-on-left matchup. Through 90 at-bats he is slashing .178/.299/.244 with one home run. He’s also struck out 33 times, more than one-third of those at bats. Sadly, that is actually better contact than his 90 strikeouts in 224 at bats against righties, which is 40.1%.

 

HR and SB Upside

 

Chisholm might be the most interesting power/speed combo in the minors right now. His speed score is consistently at seven or above, the mark of an excellent speed score. MLB Pipeline gives him 55 grade power with 55 grade speed. He is projected as above average across the board, except for his hit tool. But even that gets a 50 grade.

The power is not only to one field either. While most of his homers are to the pull side, his career spray chart shows he has flashed some power to the opposite field, though you can clearly see the tendency to pull more than anything else. That plays out to pulling the ball nearly 50% of the time according to Fangraphs.

The upside of Chisholm is absolutely undeniable. That’s how he found himself as the 57th ranked prospect and eighth-ranked shortstop according to MLB Pipeline. He is a fantastic athlete, but he is still a very raw baseball player. Double-A is really the first time he has hit struggles. The 21-year-old might have one of the brightest futures of anyone in the minors, but he might also have one of the lowest floors.

His upside was on display in the Arizona Fall League, and frankly that is why he is in the Marlins organization. David Wilson of the Miami Herald reported that Derek Jeter saw Chisholm play and knew he was watching a standout player.

 

Moving Forward

 

In looking at his numbers, the key is going to be simply striking out less. Even though he is struggling, he is still a productive player. His BABIP is in a great place. While a high BABIP might usually suggest a regression, that doesn’t seem to be the case for Chisholm. He makes really great contact, but he needs to make more of it.

As far as fantasy baseball is concerned, Chisholm could be a guy that fills a lot of categories. I would buy a ton of Chisholm stock in any league he is available in, as it does not take long to see what Jeter saw in him.

(Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

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