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Old 03-28-2002, 02:08 AM   #1
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Default Rookie Profile Hank Blalock

Tuesday, March 26

Rookie profile: Hank Blalock

By John Sickels
Special to ESPN.com

Hank Blalock
Texas Rangers
Position: 3B Height: 6-1 Weight: 192 Born: 11/21/80 Bats: Left Throws: Right

1999 GCL R 51 191 34 69 17 6 3 38 25 23 3 2 .361 .428 .560
1999 Savannah A 7 25 3 6 1 0 1 2 1 3 0 0 .240 .286 .400
2000 Savannah A 139 512 66 153 32 2 10 77 62 53 31 8 .299 .373 .428
2001 Charlotte A 63 237 46 90 19 1 7 47 26 31 7 4 .380 .437 .557
2001 Tulsa AA 68 272 50 89 18 4 11 61 39 38 3 3 .327 .413 .544

Blalock was drafted in the third round in 1999, out of high school in San Diego. He played against advanced competition as an amateur, and comes from a baseball family: his little brother Jake will get drafted this year, and both his father and uncle are baseball coaches. Scouts always loved Blalock's instincts and feel for the game, but most felt his physicality wasn't great enough for him to be worthy of a premium draft pick. He quickly proved them wrong, hitting tremendously well in rookie ball, pretty well in his full-season debut in 2000, and exceptionally well in 2001. He was one of the youngest players in Double-A last year, and still hit .327 with excellent OBP and SLG marks.

The Rookies
Throughout spring training, John Sickels will provide in-depth reports on 10 of the hottest rookies to watch. Here's the complete schedule:

Feb. 26: Josh Beckett, Marlins
March 2: Carlos Pena, A's
March 5: Nick Johnson, Yankees
March 8: Sean Burroughs, Padres
March 12: Juan Cruz, Cubs
March 15: Mike Cuddyer, Twins
March 19: Morgan Ensberg, Astros
March 22: Kurt Ainsworth, Giants
March 26: Hank Blalock, Rangers
March 29: Jon Rauch, White Sox

Scouting report
Blalock has a picture-perfect swing. He handles pitches on the inner half as well as pitches on the outer half, hammers fastballs, and has never struggled against breaking pitches. His batting eye is excellent, he makes contact, and shows plus power to the gaps. He's added muscle and strength over the last year, boosting his home run production without cutting into his other numbers. Blalock does not have great speed, but is an instinctual runner who is aggressive on the bases. He has a quick release, above average range, and reliable hands at third base. Scouts absolutely love his feeling for and dedication to baseball.

It is impossible to find fault with Blalock's numbers. Even when he hit "just" .299 in 2000, he showed excellent strike zone judgment and solid gap power. His performance last year in the Florida State League was stunning, and he had no trouble adapting to the more advanced environment of Double-A. His strikeouts are low, his walks are high, he hits for average and power. It doesn't get better than that.

Health record
Blalock has had no serious injury problems.

What to expect
When spring training began, Blalock was given only an outside chance of making the major-league roster. He had played great in the Arizona Fall League, but the Rangers seemed intent on giving him at least some Triple-A exposure. But his performance this spring has been so good, that Rangers manager Jerry Narron announced a few days ago that Blalock has won the third-base job outright. Hank made the decision easy by hitting .361 with three homers and 12 RBI so far this spring, while also fitting in well in the clubhouse. His MLE says he is a .300 hitter right now, and from watching him play, I believe it. This kid is the real deal. If he stays healthy, Blalock has a great shot at American League Rookie of the Year. He has everything you look for in a young player: outstanding ability, superb confidence, and an excellent work ethic.

John Sickels is the author of the 2002 STATS Minor League Scouting Notebook. He is currently writing a biography of Bob Feller. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at [email protected], or you can visit his homepage at hometown.aol.com/jasickels/page1.html.
Keith "baseball nut" Thronson
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Old 03-28-2002, 02:54 AM   #2
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Hank will benefit from hitting in one of the best line-ups in the AL. This will give him an opportunity to get comfortable hitting against major leaguers without having any real pressure to perform. He'll also have some great preceptors to learn from in Palmiero, ARod, IRod. It won't hurt that he'll play next to ARod in the field, either, as ARod can play a bit there, too.
All things considered, I think he'll do will this season and contend for the AL ROY this season with Johnson and Pena.
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans...." John Lennon

Rest in Peace, Buck. You were truly a giant among men.
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Old 03-28-2002, 05:21 PM   #3
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Just wanted to add that based on all this good stuff I've heard about, I've recently picked him up for my fantasy team. Hope he is as good as promised.
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Old 03-28-2002, 06:59 PM   #4
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Yeah, my rotiss team is an AL Keeper league where we have an auction. I'll be stoked if I can get this kid. We'll see.
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