Jake Blalock hasn't put up the power numbers that the Phillies had figured on seeing, but he's showing a lot of progress. His 27 homeruns over the past two seasons are a good start and if he would have had more help hitting behind him in those lineups, he may have put up a few more homeruns. The good news is that Blalock is consistently hitting in the .270 range and has a healthy on-base percentage while showing a propensity for driving in runs. His RBI totals for 2005 were down, but only because he was on such a weak Clearwater club. Last season, Blalock hit .292 with runners on base and even higher with runners in scoring position.
It's likely that Blalock will be promoted to AA Reading for 2006 - that team could be an Eastern League juggernaut - and have better players around him. If that's the case, we could see much better numbers out of Blalock than we've seen so far in his career.
|YEAR / TEAM||HR||RBI||AVG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||SB||BB||KO||OBP|
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2002 Draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School, where he was teammates with Cole Hamels.
Batting and Power: Scouts expected at least 20 homerun potential from Blalock and it just hasn't been shown that he can hit that many homeruns. Now, the thinking is that he can settle into being a 15-20 homerun type player. One of the problems is that pitchers have learned not to throw Blalock too many fastballs, because he jumps all over them. If he learns to hit other pitches better, or develop slightly better plate discipline, Blalock's homerun and average numbers could increase. The Phillies are happy with the .271 and .279 averages that Blalock has put up over the past two seasons. He's also posted good on-base percentages and the Phillies figure that will continue.
Baserunning and Speed: Blalock has surprising speed, but doesn't use it to steal too many bases, reaching a career-high with 10 last season. Where he generally uses it is to take an extra base as a baserunner or stretch a single into a double if an outfielder isn't alert. He's aggressive, but smart on the bases and doesn't run into many outs.
Defense: After playing shortstop in high school, moving temporarily to third base and then to the outfield, Blalock is surprisingly comfortable defensively. He makes all the routine plays and has good instincts that allow him to get to balls hit into the gap or down the line. He's made only seven errors over the last two seasons and has a strong and accurate arm.
Projection: The Phillies are moving Blalock along a level per season and that should continue in 2006 with a ticket to Reading. Some players stumble at the AA level, but it's likely that Blalock will blossom. The Reading squad should be a pretty good club and if he has some offense in the lineup to help him, Blalock could get quite comfortable. He's got the potential to be an everyday outfielder in the majors and could wind up starting him major league career much like Jason Michaels did as a utility player until he gets a shot. On his current pace, Blalock would hit the majors for the 2008 season, but may need a little more seasoning. That's interesting timing since Bobby Abreu's contract calls for a buyout of the 2008 season if the Phillies so desire and Pat Burrell will be in the final year of his contract in 2008. If Blalock continues at the pace he's gone so far, his timing could be perfect.
Comparison: If you watch what Jason Michaels does in Cleveland this season, it's likely that he'll put up the kind of numbers that Blalock would figure on putting up once he gets to play everyday. Most expect 15-20 homeruns and a healthy average from Michaels and that appears what Blalock is destined to do. He also has the same gritty mentality and style of play that Michaels has shown throughout his career.