MadFriars.com ranked him high in our top 60, while he dropped in other circles. Not one to be swayed, we stuck by our assertion that Blanks was developing at a solid pace and would see his numbers continue to jump in year three of his professional career.
That has held true. Blanks hit .315 in April with 11 extra base hits. In May, the slugger upped the ante, pounding out eight homers and nine doubles over 21 games to go along with 30 RBIs and a .356 average to date. True, some of those came in Lancaster but he has proven he can hit it out of the park anywhere with a solid average to boot.
He is among the top five in RBIs and is the only California League prospect outside of Lancaster to dot the top five in slugging percentage at .621. Twenty-eight of his 61 hits have gone for extra bases – good for 45.9 percent and a 12 percent increase over his totals from the previous two years.
Much of that comes from a new stance that allows him to turn on the ball quicker and use his whole body to propel through the ball.
While many players have been standing taller, Blanks has actually added a crouch and is holding his hands in front of his body in a more traditional approach. Previously, he had held the bat on his shoulder and didn't have a tremendous trigger, relying on his innate strength. The path to the ball was also longer because he is in a natural hitting position when the ball is in flight. He now has both and has improved an already lightning-quick bat.
Talk about the change in the stance and how it feels from when you had the bat resting on your shoulder last year.
Kyle Blanks: It is comfortable, although you do get into a certain comfort level however you stand. This is what is working now and how I used to hit in college – it feels comfortable.
What was it that you were looking to gain from the change?
Kyle Blanks: A lot more balance as opposed to being open. It cuts down on a lot of movement and makes for a shorter swing.
And you are one of the few people who is actually crouching down a little more as opposed to all these hitters who are standing taller in the box. What was the feeling behind that change?
Kyle Blanks: Lower – 60-40 weight distribution on the back to help me stay back a little longer. I think mainly balance and a lot better base.
Did you feel like those changes messed with your timing?
Kyle Blanks: There is always a level of "gaming" that brings it back. Early in the year I have seen the ball well. I think it is there.
You faced Bartolo Colon early in the year. What was that like and what was your approach in facing a former Cy Young winner?
Kyle Blanks: It is nice to see someone that has been there for a while. On the other hand, they are still out there just like you. They still have to throw strikes.
What are the expectations for you and the team now that you have seen what the strengths of this unit are?
Kyle Blanks: I expect our team to do well. We have a great staff and great hitters – I expect us to do well.
Personally, I want to hit the ball well and play solid defense – have a complete season I guess.