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What’s with all the Jazz?!

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The risk is real, but Jazz Chisholm has the upside to be one of baseball’s great all-around shortstops.

In this preview, we will take a look at one of the most important prospects in the Marlins rebuild plan: Jazz Chisholm. He fills the SS hole, a position at which the organization hasn’t received star-caliber production in nearly a decade.

In a swap of two burgeoning prospects, Chisholm was acquired from the Diamondbacks last July for Zac Gallen. Gallen was dealt because pitching was viewed as an area of strength organizationally yet it was a significant loss for the Marlins in the eyes of some evaluators. Quality starting pitchers are hard to find and dealing one has to be made with the expectation that the return is a surefire product. Does Chisholm’s potential justify the risk?

Jazz stands at 5’11”, 165 lbs, an ideal young SS frame. He is quite different though because within the small stature is a ton of quick-twitch athleticism. Everything he does screams “explosive” and this has added to the intrigue that made him such a desirable asset. This explosiveness allows him to impact the ball with authority as demonstrated by the fact that just under 50% of hits in his career have been for extra bases.

Observe:

Baseball Savant

He has a natural gift of generating tremendous backspin when hitting the ball. This gives his ball more carry than most, and when added to the natural loft in his swing, they combine to create impressive extra-base pop with an air-oriented hitting approach. His swing is designed to optimize production in today’s baseball landscape where launch angle, exit velocity, and barrel awareness are the priorities.

Since reaching High-A in 2018, Jazz has an average OPS of .858 and wRC+ of 141. His ISO has consistently been in the .200s—for a middle infielder, this is exceptional. Another strong indicator that he is trending in a direction to fulfill his potential was the 10% increase in line drive rate upon joining the Marlins. Whether unintentional or the result of collaborating with the Marlins player development and analytics staff, those swing path adjustments created better outcomes and bring him closer to being a major league-ready player.

After Chisholm’s transition to the Marlins, he also saw a slight increase in walk rate and decrease in strikeout rate. Though the sample size is small and he is relatively young, he seems to be learning and showing aptitude.

The deeper one looks into Chisholm’s body of work, it becomes apparent that his skill set and physical gifts expedite his path to The Show.

Those positives also come with some element of risk which is largely tied to his approach. Early in his career, K’s have been an issue—his 30.1% strikeout rate since 2016 is 75th-highest in all of Minor League Baseball among those will at least 1,000 plate appearances in that span (94th percentile). That can happen to somebody who is constantly facing older, more experienced competition. The hope is that his recent strike zone management growth carries over to this upcoming season.

From a defensive standpoint, Chisholm has made his fair share of misplays, but this can be attributed to impressive range that puts him in position to make difficult plays in the first place. With his athletic gifts and makeup, it is highly likely this area will improve. The issues are correctable and he projects to stick at shortstop moving forward.

Somewhere in the middle of his High-A BABIP and his Double-A Diamondbacks BABIP is the real Jazz. Funny thing is the resulting number is actually commensurate to the numbers we saw from him with the Jumbo Shrimp. Go figure.

Above all else, the 22-year-old distinguishes himself with unwavering confidence in himself and his teammates. He brings a swagger that the rebuilding Marlins have been lacking at the major league level.

This kid simply gets it. Let’s hope, for the rebuild’s sake, that this Jazz is a sweet, sweet tune to be played for a long time.

Most likely, Jazz Chisholm will open up the 2020 season for Triple-A Wichita with an outside shot of earning his first call-up to Miami in August/September.