The Arizona Diamondbacks seek to find playing time for Kyle Jensen
It is a moment that Kyle Jensen, an outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, will remember for the rest of his baseball career and for that matter, his life. The amazing thing is it happened so fast. His experience on Friday September 9 is now etched.
With two outs in the bottom of the third inning and the count in his favor 3-1 in a game against the San Francisco Giants in Chase Field, Jensen slammed a 90.4 mph four-seam fastball over the left-field wall.
421 feet later, On a drive which carried 421 feet, Jensen collected his first major-league hit and home run with one swing of the bat. The two-run shot gave the Arizona Diamondbacks a 4-1 lead at the time.
“Beautiful, that was a great job, coming in the game, hit it off of (Giants starter Madison) Bumgarner, I’m sure he’s watched a lot of him,” Manager Chip Hale said. “Great night for him.”
The Arizona Diamondbacks eventually lost the game 7-6 in 12 innings on Friday night, but that is meaningless when you’re 24 games under .500 in mid-September.
The offense battled throughout, including a game-tying ninth inning solo blast off the bat of Jake Lamb. In the end, it is difficult to win when relievers continue to struggle with inherited runners.
Hale needed 12 pitches in five hours and 23 minutes, one shy of an MLB record for a single-game.
Anytime a player’s first big-league hit is a home run becomes special. However, for Jensen, the fact that it came off Giants ace Bumgarner, the smash added significance.
Jensen grew up 16 miles east of Oakland in the city of Walnut Creek. Right in the heart of the Bay Area, it would be simple to say that Jensen saw plenty of the Giants.
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The 28-year-old has been waiting a long time, eight years to be exact, for his first major-league call-up.
As Jensen started his trot around first-base, it was hard not to notice the bright smile on his face. He had finally lived his dream; showing off his power against the highest level of competition.
Phil Nevin, Jensen’s Triple-A manager, wanted to be one of the first people to give Jensen a high five.
Having Nevin there in person to witness his inaugural big-league triumph added extra meaning.
Projecting Jensen’s Future
Jensen seems to get it done with quick hands and a smooth swing. He is a prolific fastball hitter, and Jensen rarely misses mistake pitches.
Jensen’s power fits in at the big-league level. If he wants to become a complete major-league hitter, scouts will say that his plate discipline and overall approach at the plate needs work.
For every walk that Jensen drew in 3,427 career minor-league at-bats, he struck out 2.89 times (1034 K/358 BB).
Measured by FanGraphs, Jensen’s 30.5 K% in the minors this year is considered “awful.” However, his 7.9 BB% is average and his .350 on-base percentage is impressive for a slugger.
As Jensen faces more major-league pitching, his strikeout rate and contact rate should advance. Look for his pitch and strike-zone recognition to continue to develop.
Despite being blocked by Paul Goldschmidt at first, Jensen can play both corner outfield spots. If the Diamondbacks can find a position for him, his vale could become apparent.
For now, everything is a part of a process. If anything, Jensen’s raw power on display is one dimension to watch.