Last week the Cincinnati Reds outrighted infielder/knuckleballer Alex Blandino to Triple-A Louisville and cleared a spot on the 40-man roster. This morning former Stanford Cardinal refused the assignment and instead chose to become a free agent – first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.
The Reds originally picked up Alex Blandino in the 1st round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. That was a tough draft for Cincinnati as they only selected and signed three future big leaguers. Blandino was the only one from the first four rounds (and they had five picks in there – including two 1st rounders). They would select Tejay Antone in the 5th round, and later pick up Brian O’Gray in the 8th round. In the 31st round they would pick Josh Palacios, who reached the big leagues for a handful of games in 2021, but he did not sign and was later drafted by the Blue Jays.
It took Alex Blandino a few seasons to reach the big leagues, but in 2018 the then 25-year-old spent about half of a season with the Reds as a utility player. He played in 69 games, but had just 147 plate appearances and hit .234/.324/.289. In 2019 he played in another 23 games for the Reds, this time hitting much better as he posted a .250/.420/.361 line – but that took place over just 50 trips to the plate. Blandino didn’t spend any time in the big leagues in 2020, but he returned in 2021.
This season didn’t go as planned for the infielder. On June 5th he went on the injured list with a broken hand. He wouldn’t return to the field for nearly two months, and once his rehab assignment was finished on August 11th, he was optioned to Triple-A. Blandino struggled to get going while in Louisville, playing in 18 games and picking up just six hits – hitting .102/.289/.153 before his season ended on August 29th. He would later be put on the injured list for Louisville and miss the final month.