No. 26: Outfielder Jose Pujols
After three years in short-season ball, Jose Pujols finally got his first chance at full-season action in 2016. Pujols played all of this season at just 20 years of age and played his best season yet.
Pujols played 128 games for Low-A Lakewood, where his power exploded. Pujols hit 24 home runs this season, more than he ever hit in his professional career. His .746 OPS and 111 wRC+ were both career highs. The right-handed hitter earned midseason and postseason South Atlantic League All-Star honors.
While Pujols showed improvement with his in-game power, he still struggled in other areas. Compared to last season, he walked slightly less and returned to his abysmal strikeouts numbers of 2013 and 2014. In addition, Pujols still struggles to hit for average. While he hit for a career high .241 average this season, it is still by no means good. Pujols will never be a guy who hits .300, but he still needs to hit for some average.
Defensively, Pujols is destined for right field. He isn’t a special fielder, but he has decent speed and should be about average there long-term. His arm profiles well in right since it is well above-average. However, Pujols will have to hit because his defense won’t carry him.
After leading the Blueclaws in home runs this season, he will almost certainly head to High-A Clearwater next season. His mettle at the plate will truly be tested since the Florida State League is far less friendly to hitters than the SAL.