mlb.com linkBy Tom Krasovic
March 17, 2009, 5:00 p.m.
General Manager Kevin Towers said Padres prospect Kyle Blanks, who is blocked by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, will take fly balls in left field before his games in Triple-A this season.
Blanks will stay at first base, Towers said, but the club wants to see how he responds to flyballs. The idea is to explore another way to get Blanks' bat into the lineup down the road, and Towers said he broached the subject today with Grady Fuson, the director of scouting and player development.
"We're not going to stick him in the outfield," he said. "We may hit him some flyballs in pregame, see how he does."
Blanks, a 6-foot-6 285-pounder, said last month that he would like to develop his outfield skills if it would help his career. He has appeared in left twice as a professional, in 2005 with an entry-level club.
Towers also said Blanks "truly has been the one bright spot of spring training." The Padres' No. 1 prospect in The San Diego Union-Tribune's organizational rankings, Blanks has batted .341 with four doubles, three home runs, six walks and 14 strikeouts in 44 at-bats.
"This guy's legit," Towers said.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There hasn't been a whole lot of positives for the Padres during the first 17 games of the Cactus League season, though general manager Kevin Towers isn't hard-pressed to come up with his personal favorite -- first baseman Kyle Blanks.
"For me, he's been the highlight of the spring," Towers said on Tuesday after Blanks had two hits, raising his average to .341.
The Padres fell to the Angels, 12-7, on Tuesday, dropping their Cactus League record to 4-10-3.
The 22-year-old Blanks is making the most of his extended playing time this spring with Gold Glove and All-Star Adrian Gonzalez off playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
Team Mexico was eliminated by Cuba on Monday, which means Gonzalez could be back in Peoria as soon as Wednesday. But that won't mean the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Blanks will be headed to Minor League camp.
"He's forcing our hand with the way he's playing," said Towers, who likes that Blanks has done a majority of his damage against frontline starters, not Minor Leaguers. "If he keeps it up, we're going to have to find a spot for him."
Blanks, who has played the outfield in the Minor Leagues on just two occasions, won't turn 23 until September.
Finding a spot for Blanks, the Padres' Minor League Player of the Year in 2008, will not be easy, not with Gonzalez entrenched at first base for the foreseeable future.
There may be a move afoot for Blanks to get some time in the outfield, though it will not likely happen anytime soon, said Towers, who spoke with Grady Fuson, vice president of scouting and player development, about that issue earlier Tuesday.
Towers said he doesn't want to mess with Blanks' confidence right now by asking him to start taking fly balls in Arizona. If the Padres do decide to see how Blanks looks in the outfield, then it would likely be once the Triple-A season begins at Portland.
And, as Towers cautioned, it would start by "taking fly balls before games" before it ever got to the point where Blanks would appear in a game in the outfield.
For now, Blanks, who leads the team in at-bats (44), runs (11), total bases (15), doubles (four), home runs (three) and is tied for first in RBIs (nine), will stick to playing first base, though it might not be at the frequency he had been.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
All I can say is that IT'S ABOUT FRIGG'N TIME !!!
Play Ball !!!