Over the next 10 days we will be looking at possible September additions to the 40-man roster of players who could perhaps help the Cincinnati Reds. Kicking off the series, we will be looking at infielder Alex Blandino. The former 1st round pick (2014 – 29th overall) has split his time in 2017 with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the Louisville Bats.
In April the season got out to a tough start for Alex Blandino in Pensacola. It seemed like more of the same – as he had struggled there to end 2015 and all of 2016. He hit .182/.357/.236 on the month. The plate approach seemed right, he walked as many times as he struck out, but he simply wasn’t hitting. Everything changed when the calendar flipped over to May.
In the next 44 games, from May 1st through June 18th the hits started coming and the quality of those hits was strong. Alex Blandino would hit .289/.382/.549 over 165 plate appearances in that span and be promoted to Triple-A Louisville.
While things have slowed down a little bit, he’s still hitting very well for the Bats. In the 47 games since being promoted Alex Blandino is hitting .278/.399/.465 in Triple-A with 24 walks and 29 strikeouts. He’s hit a career high 11 home runs and a career high 32 doubles on the season.
After a disappointing 2016 season, one that was plagued with injuries, Alex Blandino has turned his outlook around. His walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down and he’s showing more power than he’s ever shown before. In order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft he will need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. It’s hard to see where he won’t be protected, so it could make some sense to call him up in September to get his feet wet and see what he can do as a possible utility guy for now. Defensively, at least from a utility role, he can cover you at shortstop, second base and third base. He’s probably not a guy you want at shortstop every day, but as a fill in every so often, he can cover you there.
The current 40-man roster only has 39 players on it. That roster spot is very likely to be taken by a catcher at the end of August when it seems both Tucker Barnhart and Stuart Turner will be on paternity leave at the same time as they are both due to become fathers – leaving the team without a catcher for a few days. With that said, the team could create a roster spot if they so chose in several different ways. If Scott Feldman’s knee isn’t exactly right, they could slide him from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day list to open a spot that way. They could also open a spot by designating someone for assignment that’s on the current 40-man roster.