Friday, March 25, 2005

76 Things You Probably Don't Know About Tony Blanco

Since his chances of breaking camp with the Nationals has dramatically improve (mainly through attrition), we'll take a look at our Dominican friend.

1. His middle name is Hemisphere.
2. He started off as a prospect in Boston's Organization.
3. He was part of Theo Epstein's first trade as a GM.
4. He was traded for Todd Walker.
5. In his first season as a professional, he hit .277/ .356/ .462 in 67 games.
6. Blanco was only 17 at the time.
7. The next year, he crushed the Gulf Coast League, batting .384.
8. He had 13 home runs and 13 doubles in just 52 games too, which added up to a .668 slugging average.
9. He allegedly weighs 176 pounds.
10. I guess it's possible.
11. John Sickles rates him as the Nationals 6th best prospect.
12. He also grades him a C-level prospect.
13. I don't know which is sadder; that a rule five pickup is our 6th best prospect, or that our 6th best prospect is only graded a C.
14. Blanco bats right-handed.
15. He throws righty too.
16. In 2000, the Red Sox promoted him to A-ball for 9 games.
17. He didn't fare as well.
18. He only hit .143.
19. He piled up 12 strikeouts in just 28 at-bats.
20. That would begin to be a recurring theme in his career.
21. He played his entire 2001 season in Augusta.
22. I don't think he wore a green jacket.
23. He made some adjustments and had a solid year. Especially for a 19-year old.
24. He crushed 17 home runs and mashed 23 doubles.
25. Those are huge power numbers for someone so young. Power usually manifests itself in doubles at the lower levels.
26. He did strike out 78 times.
27. But, it came in 370 at bats.
28. He was also battling a sore shoulder at the time.
29. In 2003, he injured his elbow, limiting him to just 69 games.
30. That was his fourth season in A-ball.
31. He had to repeat, because he stunk up the park in 2002.
32. Presumably, he was still feeling the effects of the shoulder surgery that ended his 2001 season early.
33. In that ill-fated 2002 season, he played just 65 games.
34. He batted just .221/ .250/ .365.
35. Even Endy Chavez could do that.
36. Even worse, he struck out 70 times in just 244 at bats.
37. He walked just 6!? (six) times!
38. Even Endy Chavez could do that.
39. Strike zone judgement is obviously not his strength.
40. Strike outs by batters are overrated by batters on the major league level.
41. In the minors, though, they're much more important.
42. High Ks and Low BBs, such as what he has, indicate he has little control over the strike zone.
43. It means he's probably easy to fool.
44. He hits all those homeruns because he has tremendous power and can mash mistakes and the fastballs he catches up to.
45. Scouting reports said he had a hard time identifying the breaking ball.
46. Don't scouting reports always say that?
47. The scouting reports also say that he opens up to the pitch way too early, because he's always trying to pull pitches.
48. That explains why he can't hit the breaking ball!
49. He started his career with the Sox as a third baseman.
50. He had so-so range.
51. When they say a minor leaguer has so-so range, it means he stinks.
52. He has a cannon for an arm.
53. Because of his shoulder surgery, and because of the later elbow injury, he's played a lot of first base too.
54. When the Reds acquired him from the Red Sox, they started him out in single-A Potomac.
55. That's when the elbow flared up.
56. He mostly played first base for them.
57. His 2003 season was decent, but he still wasn't able to get back to where he was when he first tried A-ball.
58. He hit 10 home runs and 17 doubles.
59. Amazingly, he was still only 21.
60. He finally put it together in 2004.
61. He started out with Potomac and mashed the hell out of the ball.
62. He reversed his power numbers from the year before, hitting 17 home runs and 10 doubles.
63. He did all that in 7 fewer games and 25 fewer at bats.
64. He also batted .306/ .403/ .588.
65. He struck out 66 times.
66. But he also walked 27 times.
67. The Reds began experimenting with him in the outfield.
68. Tim Naehring, former MLB player, now the Reds minor league coordinator says, "The keys for Tony are staying healthy, finding a position where he's comfortable and pitch recognition."
69. He added, "He needs to be more consistent, especially with offspeed stuff."
70. Blanco batted .318 this spring.
71. He hasn't yet hit a homer.
72. His defense hasn't improved.
73. He struck out seven times.
74. But, he also walked five.
75. His on-base percentage is an impressive .448.
76. Unless Bowden works out a trade with Cincinnati, he's probably only on the team for a week or two. If Bowden can't work out a trade, he's headed back to Cinci.

He's got great power potential, but because of injuries and poor plate discipline, he's never really put it together. He may be a useful major league hitter at some point. It's just that that point isn't here yet. The best thing for him would be to go back down to AA and mash the hell out of the pitchers down there and work on controlling the strike zone.

Leaving him on the major league roster hurts his development, especially because he won't play much, and it hurts the Nationals, because they'll essentially be playing one man short.

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