Jake Blalock hasn't put up the power numbers that the Phillies had figured on
seeing, but he's showing a lot of progress. His 27 homeruns over the past two
seasons are a good start and if he would have had more help hitting behind him
in those lineups, he may have put up a few more homeruns. The good news is that
Blalock is consistently hitting in the .270 range and has a healthy on-base
percentage while showing a propensity for driving in runs. His RBI totals for
2005 were down, but only because he was on such a weak Clearwater club. Last
season, Blalock hit .292 with runners on base and even higher with runners in
It's likely that Blalock will be promoted to AA Reading for 2006 - that team
could be an Eastern League juggernaut - and have better players around him. If
that's the case, we could see much better numbers out of Blalock than we've seen
so far in his career.
|YEAR / TEAM
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2002 Draft
out of Rancho Bernardo High School, where he was teammates with Cole Hamels.
Batting and Power: Scouts expected at least 20 homerun potential from
Blalock and it just hasn't been shown that he can hit that many homeruns. Now,
the thinking is that he can settle into being a 15-20 homerun type player. One
of the problems is that pitchers have learned not to throw Blalock too many
fastballs, because he jumps all over them. If he learns to hit other pitches
better, or develop slightly better plate discipline, Blalock's homerun and
average numbers could increase. The Phillies are happy with the .271 and .279
averages that Blalock has put up over the past two seasons. He's also posted
good on-base percentages and the Phillies figure that will continue.
Baserunning and Speed: Blalock has surprising speed, but doesn't use
it to steal too many bases, reaching a career-high with 10 last season. Where he
generally uses it is to take an extra base as a baserunner or stretch a single
into a double if an outfielder isn't alert. He's aggressive, but smart on the
bases and doesn't run into many outs.
Defense: After playing shortstop in high school, moving temporarily to
third base and then to the outfield, Blalock is surprisingly comfortable
defensively. He makes all the routine plays and has good instincts that allow
him to get to balls hit into the gap or down the line. He's made only seven
errors over the last two seasons and has a strong and accurate arm.
Projection: The Phillies are moving Blalock along a level per season
and that should continue in 2006 with a ticket to Reading. Some players stumble
at the AA level, but it's likely that Blalock will blossom. The Reading squad
should be a pretty good club and if he has some offense in the lineup to help
him, Blalock could get quite comfortable. He's got the potential to be an
everyday outfielder in the majors and could wind up starting him major league
career much like Jason Michaels did as a utility player until he gets a shot. On
his current pace, Blalock would hit the majors for the 2008 season, but may need
a little more seasoning. That's interesting timing since Bobby Abreu's contract
calls for a buyout of the 2008 season if the Phillies so desire and Pat Burrell
will be in the final year of his contract in 2008. If Blalock continues at the
pace he's gone so far, his timing could be perfect.
Comparison: If you watch what Jason Michaels does in Cleveland this
season, it's likely that he'll put up the kind of numbers that Blalock would
figure on putting up once he gets to play everyday. Most expect 15-20 homeruns
and a healthy average from Michaels and that appears what Blalock is destined to
do. He also has the same gritty mentality and style of play that Michaels has
shown throughout his career.
Jake Blalock went into the draft being compared to Scott Rolen. In fact, some reports had him ahead of Rolen, especially as a power hitter. While those lofty predictions haven't come true, Blalock is still a solid prospect with a lot of talent.
His power numbers are still a little low, but Jake Blalock continues to be impressive.