- Full name Kyle Nathaniel Blanks
- Born 09/11/1986 in Souderton, PA
- Profile Ht.: 6'6" / Wt.: 265 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Yavapai College
- Debut 06/19/2009
- Drafted in the 42nd round (1,241st overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2004 (signed for $140,000).
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Padres had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, but their best choice turned out to be their 42nd rounder. They signed Blanks, a big kid from small Moriarty (N.M.) High, for $260,000 a year later as a draft-and-follow. In his lone season at Yavapai (Ariz.) JC, he led the wood-bat Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in batting (.440), doubles (25) and RBIs (47). Had he not signed, Blanks projected as a top-five-rounds talent for the 2005 draft. He led the Rookie-level Arizona League with seven homers, but a major leg infection knocked him out in mid-July of his 2006 follow-up. He re-established his prospect credentials in 2007, when he became the first righthanded hitter to top 20 homers for high Class A Lake Elsinore since Xavier Nady in 2001. He turned in his second straight 20-homer, 100-RBI campaign in 2008 at Double-A San Antonio, this time in a pitcher's park. No active player resembles Blanks, not entirely. He's an intimidating 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds and built like a football tight end, yet he exhibits strong bat control instead of always selling out for power. In fact, he takes pride in his ability to hit for average and focuses on taking the ball to center and right field when pitchers work him away--and that's despite having the raw power to rival any player in the system. He has tightened his strike zone and closed holes in his swing each season. Blanks is athletic for his size and an average runner underway. He throws very well and shows surprising agility and hands at first base, where he has average potential as a defender. Blanks' advocates think he has sufficient range and instincts to play an outfield corner, though he has played just two games there as a pro (both in 2005). He has done a good job monitoring his weight since ballooning to nearly 300 pounds after his layoff in 2006. Despite incorporating a stride and a sense of timing in his swing in 2007, Blanks still has a tendency to hit with dead hands because he uses a minimal load to his swing. That cuts into his home run production, but it does make him less susceptible to hard stuff on the inner half. He hasn't shown much power against lefthanders the last two seasons, as he has struggled to stay back on their backdoor breaking balls. He's much more comfortable facing righthanders, even sidearmers and submariners, because they tend to work him hard inside and he can just react. Blanks will need to continue to make conditioning a priority. He has slowed a bit since signing and isn't quick out of the batter's box. After refining his batting eye in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a .430 on-base percentage, Blanks is ticketed for Triple-A Portland. He may learn to play left field, though San Diego has yet to make a final decision. At first base, he's blocked by all-star Adrian Gonzalez. But if Blanks continues to produce like he has the last two seasons, the Padres will find room in their lineup for him. Trading Gonzalez would create an opening and cut costs.
Blanks led the wood-bat Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in batting (.440), doubles (25) and RBIs (47) in 2004, after which the Padres signed him for $260,000 as a draft-and-follow. A serious leg infection limited him to 86 games with low Class A Fort Wayne in 2006, when the 6-foot-6 Blanks had trouble keeping his playing weight under 300 pounds, but he rebounded nicely in 2007. Possessing the most raw power in the system, Blanks slugged 24 home runs for Lake Elsinore, where the ball doesn't carry to left or left-center field. He became the first righthanded batter to top 20 since Xavier Nady hit 26 for the Storm in 2001. Blanks improved his pitch selection and weight shift in 2007, adding a stride instead of just turning and rotating, which gave him a sense of timing at the plate, not to mention more in-game power. He's agile for his size and has good hands at first base, and he has a plus arm for his position. Blanks' power is almost entirely to the pull side and he would do well to use the opposite field more often. Despite his success, he still was susceptible to hard stuff up and in, and to sliders off the plate when he cheated on fastballs. His footwork and reactions still need cleaning up at first base, and he's a below-average runner. Keeping his weight in check won't be easy. Blanks is a different animal, as one Padres official put it, and with his body type and right-right profile he'll always have to prove himself against the competition. His next step is Double-A.
Blanks led the wood-bat Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in batting (.440), doubles (25) and RBIs (47) in 2004, after which the Padres signed him for $260,000 before he could enter the 2005 draft. Blanks is a good defender at first base with soft feet and mobility for someone listed at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, though he was up near 300 pounds by the end of the season. His arm is solid-average. Blanks has tremendous strength and raw power from the right side, but can be pitched to because he loses his sense of timing at the plate and gives away too many at-bats. Blanks is susceptible to the high fastball. The Padres would like Blanks to play closer to his listed weight of 270 pounds, but he got off track last season when a major leg infection sidelined him after mid-July. Blanks needs a big power year in high Class A to re-establish himself as a prospect.
Area scout Jake Wilson was one of the few to see Blanks as a prep star in the tiny New Mexico town of Moriarity, and he persuaded the Padres to take him as a draft-and-follow in 2004. Their secret was unearthed at Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College, as Blanks led the wood bat Arizona Community College Athletic Conference in batting (.440), doubles (25) and RBIs (47) while earning national juco defensive-player-of-the-year honors. San Diego signed him for $260,000 before the 2005 draft, where Blanks figured to go in the first five rounds if he was available. Blanks hit seven home runs in his first 14 games as a pro, but failed to homer in his final 34 while striking out more than once a game. The seven homers held up for the Rookie-level Arizona Fall League lead, however. His raw power is the best in the organization, and he can punish the ball to all fields. He's a patient hitter who draws walks despite a sizable strike zone. His approach at the plate is single-minded--every swing is designed to hit the ball a mile--causing his swing to get long and leading to high strikeout totals. Scouts joked that the 6-foot-6, 290-pounder would dwarf Frank Thomas, but Blanks exhibits good athleticism for his size. He's an average runner and an excellent defensive first baseman with a strong arm. Some scouts think he even could play left field. The Padres would like to see him get down to 270 pounds, and he has the work ethic and makeup to do it. His combination of size and athleticism has San Diego dreaming about Dave Parker. While Blanks' ceiling is enormous, it also is distant. He'll move up to low Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Blanks is the biggest legitimate prospect in the game. But his size shouldn't overshadow his ability, as he topped 20 homers for the third consecutive season and was the Padres' second-most productive hitter after they called him up in mid-June. Blanks brings tremendous raw power to the table, which isn't surprising for a player who looks like a fullback. He has good pitch recognition and the strength to get jammed and still get a hit. After cutting his strikeout rate in each of the last three seasons, he saw his whiffs rise in 2009 as he had a harder time laying off breaking pitches, especially against righthanders who could speed his bat up. Blanks is more agile than he looks and has good footwork around the bag. However, the Padres have Adrian Gonzalez at first base, so they had to deploy Blanks mostly on the outfield corners. He has an adequate arm and will catch what's hit to him, but he lacks mobility and range and figures to get slower as he ages.
Blanks' prospect status has steadily risen since the Padres drafted him in the 42nd round in 2004. His massive 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame gives him plenty of power, and he turned in his second straight 20-homer/100-RBI season. He continues to improve his plate discipline, allowing him to get into counts where he can look for pitches to drive. Blanks is an exceptional athlete for his size. He's a below-average runner but is agile at first base. He's blocked in San Diego by Adrian Gonzalez, however, and it's not certain that Blanks could handle a move to left field.
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Blanks has exceptional power to all fields. He hit seven homers, including several tape-measure shots, in his first 14 games, and that total stood up to lead the AZL. He has a good, quiet approach at the plate, though his swing tends to be long and he strikes out frequently. Despite his size, Blanks is surprisingly athletic. He runs the bases well, has good hands and is agile around the first-base bag. The National Junior College Athletic Association named him its 2005 defensive player of the year. He committed only one error during the summer and topped AZL first basemen with a .997 fielding percentage.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the Pacific Coast League in 2009
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the San Diego Padres in 2009
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the San Diego Padres in 2008
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the San Diego Padres in 2006