Blanton and Jewell seemed to be made for each other, although neither had seen the other one. "I liked what I had heard about Jewell and it seemed like the place to be," remembered Blanton this summer. As for Mike Stockton, his coach at Jewell, he had never seen Blanton play, but also had heard good things about his future star.
The program at Jewell is built on basics and fundamentals. Players must be quality students; no exceptions. Blanton was expected to do a lot in the classroom and on the field and he exceeded expectations in both cases.
Blanton certainly has the basics down. He struck out just four times in his senior season. At Jewell, Blanton truly blossomed and became one of the best small college players in the country. His success is a credit to Stockton and his program at Jewell. "He (Stockton) is tough, but when you make it through his program, you're ready for anything," said Blanton.
In his first pro season, Blanton struggled to show signs of what scouts had been raving about. The Phillies challenged him and started him at Batavia, but after hitting just .133 through six games, they realized Blanton would be better served in the Gulf Coast League. Things didn't go much better in the GCL, where Stockton hit just .217 and was dropped from the roster.
Needless to say, there is work to be done with Blanton. Not only will he need to adjust to the regimen of professional baseball, but there are a lot of quality young infielders at the lower levels of the Phillies minor league system. This year, the Phillies had Blanton at both shortstop - his natural position - and at third base. Word is that he may see some time at second base next season, which may be the best thing that could have happened to Blanton. His quickest road to the majors would be through his fundamentals and versatility and the more positions he can play, the better off he'll be.