Healthy Kyle Blanks Can Fulfill His Promise To The San Diego Padres
The hottest hitter on the hottest team in the National League was headed to the minors earlier this month. The San Diego Padres had optioned Kyle Blanks to Triple-A Tuscon on June 5 to make room for Cameron Maybin’s return from the disabled list, but called him right back when Yonder Alonso hit the DL. Beset by injuries himself over the past three seasons, Blanks has made the most of the opportunity, hitting .316/.369/.633 so far in June with five home runs, including a game-winning three-run blast against the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Drafted as an 18-year-old in 2004, the imposing 6’6” Blanks soared through the minor leagues as a top 1B/OF prospect who could hit for power and average. First arriving in San Diego in 2009, he hit .250/.355/.514 with 10 home runs in 148 at bats before a bout of plantar fasciitis ended his season in late August. Thus began a frustrating pattern of injury that stalled his progress.
Batting cleanup for the Padres at the start of the 2010 season, Blanks struggled and later had to undergo Tommy John surgery, which kept him on the DL through the start of the 2011 campaign. Blanks worked his way back through stints at AA San Antonio and at AAA Tuscon, where he hit .351/.421/.716 with 11 home runs in 134 at bats. Back with San Diego to finish the 2011 season, he ended up batting .229/.300/.406. In 2012, Blanks played in only four games before going under the knife for season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder that he had been nursing during training camp.
Finally healthy to start the 2013 season, Blanks battled for playing time in a crowded San Diego outfield that has since gotten a lot less crowded. With Maybin and Alonso on the DL, and Carlos Quentin nursing a sore shoulder, a healthy 26-year-old Kyle Blanks can finally see regular playing time at first base and in the outfield. The streaking Padres and their fans hope he continues to use it to get his once promising career back on track.