Q&A: Alex Blandino

Freshman Alex Blandino (St. Francis HS, Mountain View, California) has earned his spot in a Stanford starting lineup stocked with projected early-round draft picks. The Palo Alto native's two home runs and 11 RBI over the past two weeks have opened eyes around Sunken Diamond. He joined The Bootleg for a chat earlier this week.

David Lombardi, The Bootleg: Over the past two weeks, you've played your way into the starting lineup. Has that been a big motivation for you as this season has progressed?

Alex Blandino: I think that's a goal for every player, to be in that lineup. It's definitely been a grind, coming out every day and earning that spot. It takes a lot of effort. I've been getting the looks the past couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll keep producing.

I thought your batting practice sessions have been especially impressive. In many instances, you've been driving the ball out of the ballpark more often than the bigger, more experienced hitters in this lineup. What's the key to your powerful swing?

It just comes down to technique and producing good backspin and being in the right position. I'm a firm believer that baseball is a lot different than a lot of other sports. It's not necessarily about being the best athlete, but it's about being the guy with the best technique. You have to be in the right position to hit. If everything's there at contact, I expect it to go a long way.

Aside from hitting for power, you've helped spearhead Coach Marquess' implementation of more small ball into the offensive attack. You even stole third base without a throw in Seattle. Do you pride yourself on your baserunning?

Definitely. I want to take advantage of every opportunity that the defense gives me. Washington wasn't really covering third base, and the pitcher was being lazy with his looks. I looked at Coach Stotz, and he gave me nod, which meant it was all right for me to go. So I took off.

On Friday in Washington, you faced fellow freshman and Bay Area product Tyler Davis. He was cruising along until you came up, and he walked you on four pitches. Was he afraid because of any prior history between the two of you?

[Laughs] I've faced him tons of times. He pitched at [Archbishop] Mitty, which was our rival high school. He played on my summer team a couple of years. In high school, I always hit well against him. Maybe that played a factor.

Your defensive versatility has definitely been a factor. You've been at both third and second base so far this year. What is your favorite position to play?

My whole life, I've been playing mostly shortstop. Coming here, I knew it would be tough to get out there. So I've been working a lot with Coach [Brock] Ungricht and the other coaches to really perfect the other positions on the infield. So now I'm happy to fill in wherever I'm needed.

You've filled into the lineup nicely. Do you like hitting in an order that surrounds you with so many powerful bats?

We really expect the kind of production the lineup showed early in the year. We really expect it every time we go out there, even though we struggled for a couple series. But it felt good to get back on it, because we have high standards for ourselves. There are a lot of great hitters on this team. It's tough for any pitcher to face this lineup.

How has the academic transition to Stanford been for you?

Not too bad at all. St. Francis High School really prepared me to have a good work ethic, and balance time between academics and sports. The way they ran their program there, it was really like a college program, so I'm really used to the schedule. It hasn't been a difficult transition.

What has your favorite Stanford class been so far?

I'm really enjoying my philosophy class (in the IHUM core). It's really interesting to see the other side of scientific ideas and see them from a humanitarian point of view. So I'm really enjoying that class.

Thanks Alex, good luck moving forward.

Thanks Dave.

About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link. For Stanford baseball insights, follow David on Twitter at davidmlombardi.

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