Tag Archives: Kyle Blanks

Prediction: Kyle Blanks Coming Out Party

Kyle Blanks as a Fort Wayne Wizard in 2006One Fort Wayne Wizard player that I loved to watch when he was here was Kyle Blanks. I’ve also enjoyed watching him progress through the system since that time. And now, the rest of the baseball world is finally getting to see this guy in action. Methinks that next year, we’ll be seeign the Kyle Blanks coming out party at the 2010 All-Star Game and Home Run Derby much like we did with Josh Hamilton last year.

Here’s a brief look at some recent Kyle Blanks headlines:

Here’s a brief look at some previous Kyle Blanks BBIFW posts:

Note: You can read more about Kyle Blanks and other former/current Fort Wayne (and Northeast Indiana) stars in my book, Baseball in Fort Wayne (pages 75 & 76). Order now at a discounted price and I’ll sign it for you! A portion of the proceeds will go to the Northeast Indiana Baseball Assocation.

Fort Fragments: Blanks, Venable, Ready, Latos, Peavy, Pierzynski

Padres’ youth movement hits Triple-A Portland hard: Several former Fort Wayne players; including Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Mat Latos and Greg Burke have seen big league action this year. It’s also spelt a drain on talent for Triple-A Portland. With the likelihood of others (such as Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby winner, Chad Huffman) trickling onto the Padres’ roster in the coming weeks, the chances of Portland improving upon their league worst win-loss record doesn’t look good.

Speaking of Kyle Blanks, he’s starting to earn more widespread attention:

Speaking of Will Venable, the former Wizards outfielder has been fortunate enough to play under close tutilage of his father, Max Venable, a former big leaguer who used to be the hitting coach in Fort Wayne. But apparently it was his mother’s advice that kept her son in baseball rather than the pursuit of hooop dreams. See Also: Venable Has Been a Quick Study.

Former Wizards skipper, Randy Ready has been promoted to the Padre’s hitting coach. Probably a move that also is intended to help keep him in the organization rather than jumping ship to be a big league manager when teams start interviewing to fill soon-to-be vacancies.

Mat Latos is also drawing a lot of acclaim since rising from Fort Wayne to the big leauges earlier this season. He netted his first MLB win in his second start. He allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-2 Padres’ win over the Washington Nationals. He went seven innings in his next start before allowing former Wizards, Michael Ekstrom and Burke to finish his win in a game that also saw a Blanks homer.

While it’s early to call Latos the next San Diego ace of the staff, it’s probably refreshing news following the trade of the former incumbant, Jake Peavy, to the White Sox. In fact, Friday night, Latos gave up seven runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, leading to a 9-2 loss to the Cardinals. The 21-year-old had won his last four starts and was the first Padres pitcher in history to win four of his first five career starts.

More Latos:

On another Jake Peavy note, the former Wizard and Padre has begun his rehab work with the White Sox. He struck out five in his first assignment.

TinCaps right hander, Simon Castro took the seventh Midwest League honor earlier in the month when he was selected as MWL Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Augst 2nd. At the time, he was leading the league in strikeouts with 125 and had just concluded two dominant startswhere he allowed just one run while struck out out 15 over ten innings.

Current White Sox catcher, A.J. Pierzynski hopes to remain in Chicago but realizes tha the might have to try the free agent waters if the up and coming (and cheaper) competition continue to press.

Off the DL: Nick Hundley, Torii Hunter

Taking a Look at the Padres Prospects (requires MadFriars subscription):

Speaking of MadFriars, FriarForecast recently caught up with John Conniff following his trip to Fort Wayne. He provides his take on the new erea of baseball in Fort Wayne

Wizards Where R They?

  • Paul McAnulty: After being released by Boston, McAnulty signed with the Colorado Rockies. He’s now playing with the Triple-A SkySox.
  • Jose Lobaton: The Tampa Bay Rays claimed the catcher off waivers from the Padres and assigned him to Double-A Montgomery.
  • Freddy Guzman: Now playing in Triple-A Norfolk with the Orioles organization.
  • Josh Barfield: After not getting claimed off waivers, Barfield was outrighted from Indian’s 40-Man Roster.

Finally, Paul DePodesta shares his thoughts on the current prospects in the Padres’ system. Many of them are former Wizards/TinCaps.

Kyle Blanks Promoted to MLB

According to Baseball America:

Baseball America has learned the Padres have promoted their No. 1 prospect, first baseman/left fielder Kyle Blanks, to the big leagues. A corresponding move regarding the 40-man roster was not yet announced.

Blanks, 22, was hitting .283/.393/.485 at Triple-A Portland in the Pacific Coast League, with 12 home runs, nine doubles and 38 RBIs. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder has shifted in part to left field this season, playing parts of 15 games in left while still primarily playing first base.

From MLB.com:

Blanks, a first baseman and outfielder with Triple-A Portland, is expected to have his contract purchased by the Padres on Friday when he will be added to the 40-man roster.

The left-handed-heavy Padres open a three-game series against the Oakland A’s on Friday and will be facing three lefty starting pitchers in the series. The Padres are hitting .215 as a team against left-handers this season.

Blanks, the Padres 2008 Minor League Player of the Year and Texas League Player of the Year, is a right-handed hitter and was hitting .283 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs for Portland.

Kyle Blanks

More Blog Chatter:

Related BBIFW Posts:

Fort Fragments: Hundley, Durango, Blanks, Wedge, Macias, Parker, Hayhurst

2009 Spring Training Update from Fort Wayne II

Guess I will make this into a series of sorts. Anywho, here’s some more updates:

Wade LeBlanc has been optioned to Triple-A Portland. So has Mike Ekstrom.

Pete Ciofrone, Mitch Canham and Cedric Hunter have been assigned to te Padres’ minor league camp. Two of 2008’s Wizards, Luis Durango and Jackson Quezada, have been assigned to Lake Elsinore.

Kyle Blanks is finally going to get some time in the outfield given that there is a roadblock at first base and Blanks is making his case to get the big man’s offense into the lineup.

The White Sox’s, Jon Link (Wizard in 2006) has been optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Methinks we’ll see him in the big leagues before 2009 is up.

Spring Training Update from Fort Wayne

Here’s a look at early spring performances from some former Wizards who are in Padres camp this Spring:

  • Kyle Blanks: In 15 games (40 at-bats), he’s hitting .325 with a .429 OBP, 3 home runs and 9 RBIs
  • Will Venable: In 12 games (37 at-bats), he’s hitting .297 with a .333 OBP
  • Drew Macias: In 15 games (36 at-bats), he’s hitting .278 with a  .350 OBP and a home run
  • Chase Headley: In 10 games (30 at-bats), he’s hitting .267 with a .313 OBP, a home run and 8 RBIs
  • Matt Antonelli: In 14 games (25 at-bats), he’s hitting .320 with a .433 OBP
  • Cedric Hunter: In 15 games (22 at-bats), he’s hitting .227 with a .308 OBP
  • Chad Huffman: In 14 games (21 at-bats), he’s hitting .333 with a .517 OBP, 2 home runs and 6 RBIs
  • Nick Hundley: In 8 games (19 at-bats), he’s hitting .316 with a .350 OBP
  • Brett Dowdy:  In 10 games (13 at-bats), he’s hitting .462 with a .500 OBP
  • Mitch Canham: In 10 games (11 at-bats), he’s hitting .273 with a .500 OBP
  • Colt Morton: In 7 games (10 at-bats), he’s hitting .300 with a .417 OBP
  • Greg Burke: In 5 games (5.2 innings pitched), he has a 4.76 ERA with 6 K’s and a walk
  • Mike Ekstron: In 4 games (3.2 innings pitched), he has a 14.73 ERA with 1 K and a walk
  • Cesar Ramos:  In 4 games (5.2 innings pitched), he has a 9.53 ERA with 3 K’3 and 3 walks
  • Nick Schmidt: In 4 games (4 innings pitched), he has an 11.25 ERA with 1 K and 3 walks
  • Josh Geer:  In 3 games (7 innings pitched), he has a 6.43 ERA with 4 K’s and a walks
  • Wade LeBlanc:  In 3 games (6 innings pitched), he has a 10.53 ERA with 6 K’s and 5 walks

In related Wizards and Fort Wayne ties:

Hot Prospects: Cedric Hunter,

HotProspects.net has features some former Wizards recently. Here’s a brief recap:

Cedric Hunter (full post here):

There was some conjecture in the past about a dip in Hunter’s work ethic prior to his 2007 season.  Some within the organization felt that his fine ’06 pro debut may have went to his head a little bit, contributing to his performance dip at Low-A Fort Wayne.  It seems that he has moved beyond these concerns, though, and his future as a #2 or #6 hitter in San Diego seems to be quite bright.

Eric Soggard (full post here):

The former 2nd round pick out of Arizona State did all that he could to evoke comparisons to fellow Sun Devil alum Dustin Pedroia.  In his first full professional season, Sogard batted .308 with 10 HR 87 RBI 16 SB and 97 runs scored. 

Mat Latos (full post here):

Health is the biggest thing keeping Mat from having a major breakout season.  The Padres will likely start him back at Low-A Fort Wayne and, if all looks well, he should move to High-A Lake Elsinore at some point.  Latos has the stuff to be a frontline starter who can punch out 200+ hitters per season, but the big question mark with him will be his health. 

Matt Antonelli (full post here):

Antonelli is a joy to watch as he plays each game with maximum effort and a compelling desire to win.  He is a highly intelligent hitter who has earned 159 walks in the last two seasons.  Antonelli has good pull power but tends to slap balls to the opposite field, which should limit his HR totals. 

Kellen Kulbacki (full post here):

and powerfully builty, Kulbacki has a quick left-handed swing that mashes the ball with 20-25 HR power to all fields.  After early season struggles at Low-A, Kulbacki was promoted to High-A Lake Elsinore where he terrorized California League pitching to the tune of a .332 BA with 20 HR 66 RBI and 68 runs scored in just 84 games. 

Kyle Blanks (full post here):

Unlike many young power-hitting prospects, he doesn’t strike out too often and consistently makes hard contact.  As a 1st baseman, Blanks has demonstrated soft hands and surprising agility which should play well in the future. 

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Link, Blanks, Peavy, Hunter

I’ve got a lot to catch up on. Here’s some Fort fragments on the Wizards that might interest you:

Baseball America thinks former Wizard Jon Link will emerge as a one of those guys who was drafted late and then go on to become servicable big leaguers. In other words, he was a steal. Sadly for the Padres, Link is now within the White Sox organization.

Link, 24, was excellent last season for Double-A Birmingham, finishing with a 3.02 ERA in 56 2/3 innings as the Barons’ closer. Link struck out 66 batters, averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Link throws three pitches for strikes: a 90-92 mph fastball with some sink, a slider and a changeup. Link goes to his above-average slider for strikeouts, but his changeup is more than a show-me pitch and is an effective third weapon. There was some talk of moving Link to the starting rotation because of his three-pitch mix, but the White Sox will leave him in the bullpen. He still has to learn to harness his control, as he walked 27 batters (4.3 per nine) last year, though he was better in 2007 in high Class A when he walked just 15 batters in 58 2/3 innings (2.3 per nine).

Speaking of Baseball America, Justin Cassel the brother of former Wizards pitcher, Jack Cassel, and New England Patriots Quarterback, Matt Cassel, didn’t make it into the prospect handbook, but he did make the 32nd team.

Keeper League GM disagrees with Baseball America’s selection of Kyle Blanks as the Padres top prospect. I think I  disagree with Keeper League GM, but I’ve been a fan of Blanks since he played in Fort Wayne so I am a little biased. Porter’s Prospects calls Blanks the sixth best MLB first base prospect of 2009. There’s a lot of talk that Blanks is blocked because of Adrian Gonzalez’s presence at first base, but Blanks will get an extended audition this spring while Gonzalez is plaing in the WBC. There’s also the possibility that Blanks could play outfield. I doubt it IMHO.

Former Wizard, Freddy Guzman will be in Mariner’s camp as a non roster invitee.

Speaking of Spring Taining, the Padres will have several positions up for grabs. Some former Wizards who are likely candidates for winning spots include; Matt Antonelli, Mike Ekstrom, Josh Geer, Wade LeBlanc, Drew Macias and Will Venable. Other former Wizards who will be in camp include; Kyle Blanks, Greg Burke, Matt Bush, Mitch Canham, Peter Ciofrone, Luis Durango, Ernesto Frieri, Chad Huffman, Mat Latos, Jose Lobaton, Jackson Quezada and Nick Schmidt.

Burke and Quezada are profiled with other Padres relievers over at Friar Forecast. Bryan Oland is also in that list.

SignOnSanDiego is projecting Cedric Hunter to been roaming Petco’s center field as a 22-year-old next season. Mabye, but the competition is fierce. They’re also counting on Nick Hundley to continue his progress this season and shore up a weak catching crop.

MadFriars recently gathered 2008 reflections from Wizards radio guy, Mike Maahs.

The Start Kyle Orton blog has a profile of two former Wizards, Luis Rivas and Bobby Scales, who are non-roster invtees of the Cubs.

The Fort Wayne Wizards came to Fort Wayne from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Looks like they’ll have baseball again in a couple years. According to ESPN, “Kevin Costner says he’s chosen the northeastern Illinois town of Zion as the location for a new team, which will be part of the Northern League in 2010.” Looks like it’s just a 20 minute drive. But heck, for all I know, they may have plenty of baseball in that area already.

Jake Peavy won the Clyde McCullough Award as the team’s top pitcher on Thursday at the Padres-UCP of San Diego County Awards Dinner.  First baseman Kyle Blanks won Minor League Player of the Year. Jeremy Hefner won Pitcher of the Year. BaseballinFortWayne.com was honered with . . . nothing. It wasn’t even mentioned.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Freese, Blanks, Link, +more

Lots of items being written about Wizards alumni lately. I’ve been sitting on a few of the links, so they may be a bit older, but are still relevant and worth the read. Feast on these:

Anthony Contreras (Former Saltdogs Still Chasing Big-League Dreams) is one of a handful of former Lincoln Saltdogs who have gone from Indy leaguer to minor league prospect.

Matt Teague (Relief on the way with Teague) discusses his transition from starting pitcher to reliever, changing his mechanics and his unexpected adventures at Triple-A.

David Freese is the subject of a solid Prospect Watch at rotoprofessor. Cardinals’ general manager John Mozeliak has also stated that Freese may see time at several positions during Spring Training; which is why they aren’t pursuing a backup at first or third during the offseason.

Kyle Blanks’ future with San Diego may be as trade material due to being sandwiched between Adrian Gonzalez and Allan Dykstra according to Marc Hulet at FanGraphs. Speaking of Blanks, he is number three on Project Prospects top five prospect risers in the San Diego System. Kellen Kulbacki, Cedric Hunter, Chase Headley and Steve Garrison are the others. Observers will also note that local native, Jarrod Parker makes the cut ont he Arizona list.

Luis Cruz, according to Black and Gold, still remains a viable option for the Pirates’ infield; especially if Jack Wilson is traded.

Jon Link’s walk rate went up a bit when he went from High-A to Double-A ball. SoxMachine has a theory.

JJ Furmaniak got his MLB cup of coffee with the Pirates and A’s then played 2008 in Japan after refusing his outright from Oakland. He’s back in the homeland. The Phillies gave him a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Speaking of Japan, Dirk Hayhurst’s latest NonProspect Diary talks about the Japan route a minor leaguer might take.

Freddy Guzman was traded by the Rangers to the Tigers for Chris Shelton in 2007. The Dalla Observer rates that trade a C and thinks Guzman still has a chance to be a qualify fourth outfielder.

Cory Doyne was granted free agency from Baltimore.

Matt Bush has added a new pitch. Changeup.

Former Wizards pitching coach, Steve Webber will serve in that role with San Antonio in 2009. JoJo Tarantino, who has worked with the Wizards the last three seasons, will be the Missions’ Athletic Trainer next season. former Wizards skipper, Randy Ready, is back for another round at Triple-A Portland after flirting with the job in Seattle during the offseason. Another former Wizards pitching coach, Wally Whitehurst will serve the role for the Pittsburgh Pirate’s High-A Lynchburg squad.

Finally, several former Wizards pop up on top prospect lists all over the web. Some of them include; Baseball Intellect [1-5] and [6-15], Padres Rundown [top 25], MadFriars’ (subscription required) Denis Savage [top 60] and John Conniff’s [top 30], Ducksnorts’ [top 10],