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Prospect Retro: Hank Blalock

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Hank Blalock

Prospect Retrospective: Hank Blalock

Hank Blalock was drafted in the third round by the Texas Rangers in 1999, out of high school in San Diego. He was considered to be one of the most polished high school hitters available. However, his draft stock was hurt slightly by his relatively small size, his scholarship to Cal State Fullerton, and what some scouts perceived to be a potential lack of home run power. Others thought he was a bargain in the third round.

He went to rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League and tore the place up, hitting .361/.438/.560 with excellent strike zone judgment. I gave him a Grade B+ in the '00 book, high praise for a rookie ball guy. And I took a risk, writing that Blalock could develop into a "George Brett-type" player.

Moved up to full-season Savannah in '00, Blalock hit .299/.380/.428, hitting 32 doubles, 10 homers, with 62 walks and just 53 strikeouts 512 at-bats. He also showed good instincts by stealing 31 bases, flashed a strong glove at third base, and earned another Grade B+ from me in the '01 book.

Blalock began '01 at Class a Charlotte, hitting .380/.445/.557 in 63 games. Promoted to Tulsa, he continued tearing the ball in Double-A with a .327/.415/.544 mark. His plate discipline at both stops was excellent. He moved up to Grade A and I rated him as the best prospect in baseball entering 2002.

The Rangers gave Blalock a Major League job that spring. He did not play well, and ended up spending most of the season at Triple-A Oklahoma, where he hit .307/.363/.457. I didn't put him in the '03 book, since he had played too much in the majors, but I retained faith that he would be an excellent player. He had a great year in '03.
Blalock has shown more home run power than anticipated over the last two years, but at the cost of a higher strikeout rate and a drop in batting average. Still, he is very dangerous and still quite young.

Comparable Players to Hank Blalock, no actives listed.

Jim Ray Hart
Ron Santo
Ken Keltner
Willie Puddin' Head Jones
Richie Hebner
Robin Ventura
Jeff Burroughs
Pete Ward
Roy Howell

If you include active players, Blalock compares well with Scott Rolen and Eric Chavez.

The comparable list has some solid guys, fine players including one (Santo) who really belongs in the Hall of Fame. But this list is a bit disappointing compared to what I think Blalock is actually capable of. The "form" of his career in the last year and a half has been different than what he did in the minor leagues and in 2003.