The Cincinnati Reds drafted Alex Blandino in the 1st round of the 2014 draft, 29th overall. His career started out well. He hit .283/.367/.480 between Billings and Dayton that first season in 2014. The next year he spent most of the year in Daytona. He went out and his .294/.370/.438 for the Tortugas that year and earned a promotion to Double-A in August, towards the end of the season.
That’s when the struggles first came for Alex Blandino. In 30 games he hit .235/.350/.374. That came along with 18 walks and 21 strikeouts, which was a very good sign, but he simply wasn’t finding the grass when he put the ball in play. Following the season he went to the Arizona Fall League and the struggles continued as he hit .175/.246/.270.
In 2016 things didn’t get started on time. While playing in a World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament with Nicaragua (his father is Nicaraguan) he was injured and missed the first few weeks of the season. When he was healthy he joined Pensacola and spent the entire season in Double-A with the Blue Wahoos. Things never really got going. He hit .232/.333/.337 on the year with 55 walks and 114 strikeouts. It was easily the highest strikeout rate that he had since signing and his lowest output of power as well.
2017 began as a continuation of struggles in Double-A. In 18 games in April, Alex Blandino hit just .182/.357/.236. He walked as often as he struck out, with a walk and strikeout rate of 19.7%, a good sign, but when he made contact there simply wasn’t anything happening.
Things began to change in May and they changed with a quickness. Over the next seven weeks he would play in 44 games for Pensacola and hit an impressive .289/.382/.549. He had 19 doubles and six home runs in that stretch. Over 165 plate appearances he walked 18 times and had 35 strikeouts.
That earned him a promotion to Triple-A Louisville. He has slowed down a little bit, but not much with his promotion to Triple-A. In 56 games played with the Bats he’s hit .273/.391/.465. In those 208 plate appearances he’s walked 28 times and he’s struck out just 32 times. He’s kept his walk rate high with the promotion, but he’s also cut down his strikeouts. In Double-A in 2017 he struck out 20.8% of the time – a fine rate, but in Louisville it’s down to 15.8%.
After a long struggle in Double-A that began in August of 2015 and went through April of 2017, Alex Blandino was finally healthy enough and made the adjustments needed to not only figure out the level, but also make a perfect transition to the next level. Last week I wrote about whether or not the team should consider calling up Blandino in September given his turn around. He needs to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason or he will be Rule 5 eligible in December. His turn around couldn’t have come at a better time for him as it seems like a very safe bet that he will wind up being placed on the roster.