Blanke Focuses On Defense For White Sox





CHICAGO—Mike Blanke describes himself as a late bloomer, but his bat has put him ahead of current competition.

Blanke, 22, made a strong showing at Rookie-level Great Falls last year, and he is off to an impressive start at the plate at low Class A Kannapolis.

The combination of his hitting, as well as his progress behind the plate, will help his development through the White Sox system.

"Out of high school, I was only about 6-1," said Blanke, who has since sprouted to a 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame. "And after that, I kept elevating my game by working hard. I was working the same, but I think the size and strength helped me a lot. I used to lift a lot but didn't get too many results. But when I started growing into my body and become more coordinated, I started putting my game together a lot quicker."

As a 14th-round pick out of Tampa in 2010, Blanke's biggest step will be improving his defense, even though he already was rated by Baseball America as the best defensive player in the White Sox's 2010 draft class.

Blanke said his plans to become a full-time catcher were sidetracked at St. Petersburg (Fla.) Junior College when the third baseman got hurt. He also pitched earlier in his amateur career, but his current emphasis is on improving his catching through the help of White Sox catching instructor John Orton, who worked with him last fall at instructional league.

But Blanke thinks he benefited greatly from attending Tampa last spring.

"It was a very professional program," Blanke said. "It just geared players toward pro baseball. A lot of college programs try to make you play under a certain type of system, but Tampa lets you play and they recruit a lot of players from D-1 and jucos. And they get a lot of pro guys that work with you and treat you like a professional and they helped my game a lot."

CHI-LITES

• Despite a change in his batting stance, outfielder Jordan Danks hasn't cut down his high strikeout rate. Danks has struck out 22 times in 58 at-bats for Triple-A Charlotte.

• After being nagged for most of the past two seasons because of a right knee injury, outfielder Jose Martinez has started to blossom. Martinez, 22, the son of former White Sox outfielder Carlos Martinez, was batting .349/.395/500 with eight doubles in his first 27 games for high Class A Winston-Salem.