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MLB Rookie Profile: David Washington, 1B, Baltimore Orioles

No one doubts David Washington’s power, but can the Orioles rookie make sufficient contact?

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Catching up with the backlog of rookie profiles, we turn our attention this morning to first baseman David Washington, promoted to the major leagues by the Baltimore Orioles on June 14th. He was optioned back to Triple-A on the 20th.

David Washington was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round in 2009 from University City High School in San Diego, California. He was rather raw but was drafted for his power potential, demonstrating it in 2011 (nine homers, .248/.329/.470 in the Appalachian League) and 2012 (nine homers, .267/.330/.513 in the New York-Penn League).

He hit 10 more bombs returning to the NY-P in 2013 and finally reached full season ball in ‘14, hitting 15 homers in 89 games in High-A. He was a productive slugger for Double-A Springfield in 2015 (.274/.338/.471) and Triple-A Memphis in 2016 (.255/.352/.527, 25 homers) but was buried behind other players in St. Louis.

The Orioles picked him up as a minor league free agent last winter. He was off to a good start for Triple-A Norfolk this year, hitting .291/.344/.517 with 10 homers, 17 walks, and 71 strikeouts in 203 at-bats.

Washington is listed at 6-5, 260, a left-handed hitter and thrower born November 20, 1990. Power is obviously his calling card. In general terms he is a pull hitter, however he is strong enough to hit the ball out to all fields: 25 of his last 40 home runs were hit to left field or left center according to the charts at MLBfarm.com.

He is aggressive and prone to strikeouts. While he drew a fair number of walks in the Cardinals system he has been less patient since switching organizations, although the sample size at Norfolk is still small enough at this point of the season to be random variation rather than a true change in approach.

Defensively he has a good arm and has spent about one-quarter of his career in right field. His range there is limited. The Orioles were using him at first base with Norfolk and he posted an inadequate .985 fielding percentage, which also happens to be his career fielding percentage at that position. Basically he’s a DH who you can use at right field and first base in an emergency.

Washington has fanned five times in his first six major league at-bats and contact is the critical thing that holds him back. That said, he can certainly mash something when he gets the right pitch to work with. Here’s some of that opposite field power: