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TopProspectAlert.com Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home


Top Prospect Alert - Hank Blalock

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 11/28/80, Age: 22, Bats/Throws: L/R, Height: 6í1íí, Weight: 195. Acquired: Rangers - Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 1999 Draft (Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego, CA). 2001 Stats: (High-A - Charlotte) .380 AVG, 237 AB, 19 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 7 SB, 26 BB, 31 K, .441 OBP, .557 SLG; (AA - Tulsa) .327 AVG, 272 AB, 18 2B, 4 3B, 11 HR, 3 SB, 39 BB, 38 K, .412 OBP, .544 SLG. 2002 Stats: (AAA - Oklahoma City) .307 AVG, 387 AB, 32 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 2 SB, 34 BB, 61 K, .363 OBP, .457 SLG; (Maj. - Rangers) .211 AVG, 147 AB, 8 2B, 3 HR, 20 BB, 43 K, .306 OBP, .327 SLG.
 
    Hank Blalock is still, in my opinion, the best third base prospect in baseball. Mark Teixeira is a great hitter, but Iím not so sure that he will stay at third base, and I have always liked Blalock better than Sean Burroughs. Blalock is a complete offensive player, hitting for average and power with excellent patience. Yes, he struggled mightily against lefties (2-30), and he didnít exactly tear it up when he returned to Texas at the end of the season either (234/333/362 in 47 ABs). Unfortunately for those who rejoice in the failures of top prospects (or just want to find another spot for Shawon Dunston), every other piece of information that we have regarding Hank Blalock suggests that he will be a very good hitter in the major leagues. Even his AAA numbers last season, while not spectacular like his 2001 numbers, were quite good for a 21 year old. Put simply, most 21 year olds, even the greatest players throughout history, have experienced some difficulty in the majors at that age. George Brett, whom Blalock is frequently compared to, hit 2 home runs in his first full season (age 21). Brett happened to have the good fortune of a patient coaching staff, which is something that Blalock has not had (although in their defense, even though I disagree with the decision to demote him last year, there is plenty of competition at 3B in Texas). Hank Blalock will be absolutely fine, if everyone just lets him play. As a hitter, he uses all fields, he is capable of hitting the ball anywhere in the zone, and he will turn on a pitch with power. I expect him to be a .300 hitter, and I expect him to hit more than 25 homers a season, with an OBP around .400. He struck out quite a bit last year, even when sent back to AAA, which is something to keep an eye on early in 2003. He is much too strong of a contact hitter to be striking out 100 times in a year. On the basepaths, Blalock has average speed. It isnít a strength, but it is only a weakness when compared to his other tools. Defensively, he is above average. He was athletic enough to be considered for a move to 2B last year, and he was a SS in high school. His range is good, his hands are solid, and his arm is good enough (but not much better than average). He is as complete a player as you will find coming up through a minor league system.
 
    The Rangers have had an offense-heavy system for a long time, and the current state of affairs is no different. As far as I can tell, Kenny Rogers (rookie year - 1989) is the last pitcher that Texas developed that has been better than the league average (Rick Helling is exactly average, according to www.baseball-reference.com). Because of this, the Rangers are constantly scuffling in the minefield that the AL West has become. 2003 will likely be no different, as the Angels, Aís, and Mariners are all strong clubs again. The Texas rotation for this year looks like it will be Park, Thomson, Benoit, Lewis or Drese, and Davis, which is not going to scare anyone. The lineup, on the other hand, has literally four options for third base, which means that Mr. Blalock will probably not have the longest of leashes once again. He should, however, win the job in spring training, and ought to hold onto it this time for at least the next fifteen years or so. Comparisons for players this talented are difficult. Brettís name gets thrown around a lot, and itís certainly a good one. Robin Ventura (before the sudden decline) is another one, and Eric Chavez with a little power subtracted and added to average might be another. No matter who you choose, Hank Blalock should be the next star at third base, and although it might not happen in 2003, he should perform well enough to be the starting third baseman for Texas all season. He is, in all seriousness, a potential Hall of Famer.


 

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