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The 2015 season didn’t get out to a good start for Alex Blandino. Over the course of his first six games, he only had a hit in one of those games. He went 3-5 in the third game of the year, but was just 3-20 (.150) in that span. He did walk five times with just two strikeouts in that span. Over the final two and a half weeks of the season Blandino would turn things around. Over 15 games he would hit .316/.375/.579 with six walks and just five strikeouts. That stretch would put his April line at an impressive .284/.372/.486 despite the slow start and he walked nearly twice as often as he struck out (11 walks and just six strikeouts).
May would continue where April left off and the production never really slowed down. In 28 games, while playing shortstop nearly every day, he would hit an impressive .330/.410/.396. The power dropped off some, but his average and on-base skill were both impressive. The strikeout rate went up, which is not surprising given how low it was in April, but it remained at a strong rate of 14.6%. He would keep a solid walk rate on the month. The lone step backwards came on the basepaths as he went 0-4 in stolen base attempts.
June began well enough as Blandino would go 4-7 with a double in the first two games of themonth, but then he went into a two week slump where he would hit just .176 and strike out 18 times in 56 plate appearances (32%). He would rebound from that over the final two weeks of the month, but his playing time slowed down as he played in just eight games over that span. In the limited action he would hit .276/.364/.448, but his line at the end of the month was only good for a .241/.309/.356 mark, easily the worst he had on the season.
After playing the first game of July he would miss nearly four weeks with a fractured finger. He returned on the 26th and in just seven games he would hit .333/.367/.704 over the course of 30 plate appearances. He smacked six extra-base hits in that span, including two home runs. When he returned from the disabled list he began to spend a majority of his time at second base.
After playing a double header on August 2nd the Reds promoted the infielder to Double-A Pensacola. When he was promoted he was leading the Florida State League in OPS by a wide margin. He had a big debut for the Blue Wahoos, going 2-5 with a double, home run, two runs driven in, a walk and he scored three times. The next 10 games were a tougher adjustment though as he hit just .154 in 44 plate appearances through the middle of the month. He would turn things around over the final three weeks of the season though, hitting .268/.391/.394 to round out the regular season. By the end of the season he had transitioned back over to shortstop.
Following the regular season the Reds chose to send him to the Arizona Fall League. He’s exclusively played second base for Peoria. He’s had some struggles at the plate, hitting just .193/.270/.298 with five walks and 17 strikeouts in 63 plate appearances.
Hitting | Blandino has a solid hit tool, perhaps slightly above-average that could project him to be a .270-.280 hitter in the big leagues. He uses the entire field well and makes solid contact often.
Power | He’s got double digit home run power, but he projects to be in the mid-teens in home runs at the top end of the scale with slightly below-average power potential. His power is also mostly to the pull side, though he can hit for some doubles power to center field.
Running | He’s a fringe average runner who typically turns in slightly below-average times from home to first and doesn’t seem to have a second gear once he gets going.
Arm | He’s got a slightly above-average arm that plays fine at shortstop and well at second base.
Defense | While the Red have stuck with him at shortstop for the most part in his career, there don’t seem to be too many believers that he can remain at the position in the big leagues. He simply doesn’t have the range to stick at the position. At second base his range still is below-average, but his strong arm could keep him at the position where overall he could be average.
Remaining at second base will be key for Blandino in the future. He doesn’t have the bat to start at third base if he eventually has to move to that position, but the bat could play well at second base. With his plate discipline, a solid hit tool and general ability to play defense all around the infield, he’s likely to be a quality utility player at worst. If he’s going to start, it’s going to have to be at second base and while he’s still got limited experience at the position, the tools seem like they play better there than at the other positions.