Cincinnati Makes Blandino 1st Rounder

The loss of Shin-Soo Choo gave Cincinnati a first-round pick which they invested in Stanford infielder Alex Blandino. He'll arrive with a polished game including developed plate discipline and good contact skills. Drafted as a shortstop, he played third base in college and might be moved to second depending on how well his power translates to the next level.

Thursday Cincinnati replaced departed free agent Shin Soo-Choo when they used their second first round selection in this year's draft on Stanford's Alex Blandino. Selected as a shortstop, he's been playing third base for the Cardinal, hitting .311 Avg/.399 OB, and leading his team in HR (12), RBI (42), and slugging pct. (.534) while starting in all 59 of their games this year. Previously he was drafted in the 38th round by Oakland in 2011.

His junior season was a nice rebound after his average dropped from .294 to .268 from his freshman to sophomore years. He also had a couple of strong showings in the Cape Cod Summer League, hitting over .300 and twice named an all-star. Prior to college Blandino played for St. Francis High School in California's bay area.

He was drafted as a shortstop, but he's played at third base for the Cardinal where he'll likely debut for Cincinnati. There is some question whether his power will translate to the next level, which may move him off the corner infield position. His became a smooth fielder during his collegiate career and has a strong, accurate arm for the hot corner though there is some question if it's strong enough to handle short.

At the plate he's a disciplined hitter with a possible knock (or compliment) that has been seen with other Stanford players. It seems they are coached in a manner to improve contact, even if it means sacrificing power. That showed this year when he struck out in around 11% of his plate attempts and one more time (31) than he walked (30). He did that with a quick swing through the strike zone and an ability to drive the ball to all fields. Even if his frequency of clearing the fence diminishes he should still have enough power to drive the ball into gaps.

Overall, his projection is that of a regular duty major leaguer, as one would expect of any first-rounder. He may not get invited to many all-star games, but he's one of the safer bets to have a significant MLB career. He's got a strong, muscular frame at 6'0"/190# and he's 21 years old which makes him a candidate to try and fast-track up the system if Cincinnati chooses. There's a little uncertainty on his defensive position and if he breaks in at the hot corner the pipeline is a little crowded. If he's moved then he suddenly becomes the top middle infield prospect in the system.

There's a lot to like about this prospect because he figures to be able to do a lot of things consistently to help his team win games. He'll make opposing pitchers work against him, know the way to first base, and his contact figures to provide productive outs whenever he fails to reach. He'll likely sign instead of optong for a senior season and will probably start his professional career in the short season at Billings. Just how long he stays there remains to be seen and if he can maintain he college home run stroke after he leaves then it would be a bonus.

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