What's Next?

Tate Blackman has had a lot of time to wait for the June draft. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, their season ended early this year. Lake Brantley High School, where the Altamonte Springs, Fla., product plays, lost early in the playoffs. Last year the Class 8A school was state champions.

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"We finished two weeks ago. We have a strong district. We won state last year, so we had a big bulls eye on our back," said the 6-0, 190-pound Blackman. "Everybody was coming after us, and we ended up a little short."

As for himself, he believes things went well in the spring of 2014.

"I felt I had a good year. I played shortstop this year. I played second base last year. I like short because it seems like it's more of a leader role, and I like to be a leader," he said.

"I like to help my teammates and the younger kids and help them improve their games. That's something that seems more natural at short. But I feel I can play either one equally as well."

Blackman, one of the 19 signees for Ole Miss baseball in the incoming Class of 2014, batted .408 with eight doubles, 24 RBI, one home run, two triples and 15 walks.

"I work gap to gap," Blackman said. "I don't try to hit a home run, but I can. But that's not my approach. My approach is to go left center, right center, get runners in. That's what my offense is mostly about and my approach. Just more of a gap to gap guy."

Blackman, like many current and future Ole Miss players, has played for the Orlando Scorpions in summer baseball.

"(Current Ole Miss freshman) J.B. Woodman actually played on my summer ball team two years ago," Blackman said.

Blackman is highly thought of by professional teams and has been on their radar for some time. He could go high in the June 5 draft.

Blackman isn't sure when he will hear his name called, but "I'm hearing second to third round," he said.

He also doesn't know what that will ultimately mean for him, and he will obviously wait to see where he is actually drafted before making any decision.

"If the money's not right for me, I'm going to go to Ole Miss," he said. "I'm very excited to work with Coach (Cliff) Godwin and Coach (Carl) Lafferty and be coached by Coach (Mike) Bianco. That's why I picked Ole Miss, because of the coaching staff."

He doesn't feel he has a bad choice to make, if it comes down to college or the pros.

"I love baseball. My all-time dream goal is to play major league baseball," he said. "If it's right out of high school, that's great. If I go to college, that's great too, and I can get my education and pursue that goal. My parents talk about it all the time. It's a win-win situation either way. I can't go wrong. I can go play for an SEC baseball team that's ranked and play in front of great crowds in a great atmosphere at Ole Miss."

Blackman, who has been to Ole Miss for two football games, said he's continuing to work, even though his team is out of the playoffs. He is excited about an honor he recently received.

"Right now I'm just working out, hitting, taking ground balls, sharpening up my game. I got selected to play in the Florida All-Star game. That's a big event for me. That's for the whole state of Florida, all the best players. So I'm excited about that."

He also has a couple of opportunities to show his skills to scouts again, in addition to the all-star game.

"I have a couple of workouts with a couple of pro teams at their stadiums," he said. "I'm just preparing for those and the all-star game. Then the draft comes around June 5, and we'll see. Either way, it will work out well for me."

Tate Blackman
File Photo

Blackman said he and his family know the range they are looking for as far as money when it comes to the draft. But that's not the concern at the moment.

"We have a figure, but after the all-star game is when we're going to sit down and talk more about it and what should be a good number," he said. "We haven't really talked about it all that much."

Tate Blackman Notes:

Perfect Game rates Blackman the No. 1 middle infielder nationally for the 2014 class. The scouting service also has him the No. 31 overall prospect and the No. 9 player in Florida. Rated the No. 77 overall high school player in the country and was a Louisville Slugger All-American selection.

Blackman is listed as one of the top 100 high school players in the country by Baseball America. BA's Clint Longenecker talked a little about him earlier this spring:

Blackman's skill set and age make him a fascinating player to watch this spring. After hitting consistently on the showcase circuit last summer and fall, Blackman is drawing comparisons to a Florida infielder from last year's draft, Giants first-round pick Christian Arroyo, because of his body, tools and hitting ability.

Although Blackman does not have a loud sets of tools, his polished baseball skills play in the batter's box. Scouts believe that he is one of the most consistent hitters in the draft class. From a squared stance, Blackman has a quick stroke that produces hard contact to all fields and works inside the baseball. The righthanded-hitting Blackman has strong timing at the plate and superb bat-to-ball skills. After showing a little swing and miss at Perfect Game National, Blackman rarely whiffed the rest of the summer and fall on the showcase circuit. He consistently puts together high-quality plate appearances and shows a keen understanding of the strike zone. The Mississippi commit's power lags behind his hit tool, but he has fringe-average power to his pull side.

Although Blackman posted plus times in the 60-yard dash at the outset of the summer, he is a below-average runner who posts home-to-first times in the 4.4 range.

Blackman, currently a shortstop, also played second and third base on the showcase circuit. He is an instinctual defender with soft hands and good actions, adequate lateral agility and an average arm. Scouts believe his defensive attributes will play best at second base professionally, where he could be an average defender, or he could slide over to third base. Much like Arroyo, Blackman does not have a conventional, lithe middle infielder body. The 6-foot, 187-pound Blackman has a large frame and strong build with some thickness in his lower half.

While Blackman has a carrying tool in his bat, scouting opinions of him are very divergent because of his other tools, body and his skill set is one that typically comes from the college ranks. Another complicating factor is that Blackman is one of the oldest high school players in the class. He will be 20 years old by the end of this minor league season and is nearly two years older than some of the younger players in the class.

A team that values polished hit tools could grab Blackman in the first few rounds of the draft.

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