|Jose Pujols, image- Jay Floyd|
The Dominican native was signed by the Phillies in 2012 at the age of 16. That year he participated in the Florida Instructional League after the regular season.
Opening his official playing career as a member of the rookie level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2013, Pujols sported a .188 batting average with six home runs and 18 RBI in 45 games.
The following year, Pujols split time between the GCL and short-season Class A Williamsport. In 57 combined games, the righty batter posted a .226/.273/.377 slash line.
In 2015, Pujols continued to show improvement with a .241 average, four homers and 30 RBI in 66 games for Williamsport.
He followed up that campaign by breaking out and setting the single-season home run record for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws with 24, which has since been broken by Darick Hall. Additionally, Pujols would post a .241 average with 21 doubles, three triples and 82 RBI in 128 games.
In 2017, Pujols struggled in Class A Advanced. With Clearwater in 90 games he tallied an unimpressive .194/.247/.305 slash line while striking out at an alarming rate (roughly 43% of the time).
Things clicked in a repeat effort with the Threshers last year. In 95 games in the FSL, Pujols would post a .301 batting average with 18 home runs and 58 RBI. He was promoted to Double-A Reading in August and notched a .270 average with four homers and 18 RBI in 26 games there. His strike out numbers saw an improvement as well, with his K rate dipping to around 33% in 2018.
In an interview with me last year, Pujols cited an adjustment with where he holds his hands as something that has helped him improve at the plate, but stated the bigger impact came from between his ears. Having a plan, knowing what the pitcher is trying to accomplish and having a more solid approach are things made the most difference for the youngster.
Strictly a right fielder, Pujols gets solid reads and can track down fly balls at a better than average rate, displaying the range of a typical center fielder. He has a strong arm and is an asset to his team on defense.
With just 17 steals in his pro career to date, speed on the bases is not necessarily a weapon for Pujols.
Coaches view him as a leader, something Pujols is conscious of, as he does his best to be an exemplary teammate and lead by example.
With a lean six-foot-three 185-pound frame, Pujols still has room to add some muscle. If he does, watch out, because he has already shown he can be a formidable power threat.
Pujols should open the 2019 season back with Reading. How he fares in a longer stretch at Double-A could help determine his true ceiling in the sport. For now, he appears to be a promising offensive threat worth keeping an eye on.
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