Texas Rangers Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Gerry Fraley
1. Hank Blalock, 3b
Age: 21. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 192. Drafted: HSSan Diego, 1999 (3rd round). Signed by: Jim Lentine.
Background: Blalock is another in the long line of players to come out of the San Diego talent hotbed and powerful Rancho Bernardo High, which also produced Scott Heard, the Rangers 2000 first-round pick. Blalocks father Dana and uncle Sam are prominent influences in the baseball communitySam coaches Rancho Bernardoand his younger brother Jake is a prospect for the 2002 draft. Scouts said Blalock was limited offensively in high school, but he turned down Cal State Fullerton after being drafted as a shortstop. His stock has soared since. He won the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League batting title in 1999 and ranked second in the minors with a .352 average in 2001. Blalock was the No. 2 prospect in the Florida State League, and was second to none in the Texas League and the Arizona Fall League.
Strengths: Blalocks strong background shows. He knows how to play the game and has an advanced grasp of using the entire field. He makes solid contact and sprays the ball from foul line to foul line. He has power to the alleys and some scouts project him to hit 30 homers a season because of his tremendous bat speed and the natural lift in his swing. He has a short, compact swing and the discipline to sit back on offspeed stuff. Despite below-average speed, Blalock lets his instincts take over on the bases and is an occasional basestealing threat. He has improved his defense, committing 15 errors last season.
Weaknesses: While his understanding of the strike zone is commendable, Blalock can become too selective. The Rangers would like to see him expand his hitting zone and trade a few strikeouts for a few more extra-base hits. Like most young infielders, he needs to devote more time to his footwork on defense.
The Future: Blalock is six months younger than Mark Teixeira, and two years ahead of him in professional experience. The Rangers plan to start the season with both playing third base at different levels. Blalock is more athletic and capable of handling a move to second base or left field. The platoon of Herb Perry and Mike Lamb buys Blalock a year of development in Triple-A Oklahoma.
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