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Padres set to call up Kyle Blanks from Triple-A

Jun 19, 2009, 2:11 PM EDT

John Manuel of Baseball America reports
that the Padres are on the verge of calling up Kyle Blanks from
Triple-A, which is interesting given that the massive first-base
prospect appeared to be blocked by Adrian Gonzalez as recently as last month.

Since then the Padres have moved the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Blanks to left
field on a part-time basis and are apparently pleased enough with his
progress there defensively in 15 games at Triple-A to give him a shot
in San Diego.

It remains to be seen what type of role Blanks will play and how
long his first taste of the majors will last, because it’s possible
that the Padres are calling him up primarily to serve as designated
hitter for back-to-back interleague series in AL ballparks next week.
However, before then they host the A’s for a three-game series that
begins tonight and calling him up for that suggests Blanks could stick
around … as an outfielder.

Early reviews of his defense in left field have been fairly
positive, but Blanks is probably never going to be an asset there
defensively and would be the heaviest outfielder in baseball history if
he finds a long-term home at the position. That honor currently resides
with Frank Howard, who checked in at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds 40 years
ago, yet played over 11,000 innings in the outfield while hitting 382
homers.

Of course, Blanks isn’t being called up for his glove and playing a
palatable left field would merely be a way to get his bat into the
lineup alongside Gonzalez. Banks has hit .283/.393/.485 with 12 homers,
22 total extra-base hits, and 39 walks in 66 games at Triple-A as a
22-year-old and is a career .304/.393/.505 hitter in over 1,900 plate
appearances in the minors.

As a right-handed hitter he’ll complement the left-handed hitting
Gonzalez and hopefully help a Padres lineup that ranks dead last among
NL teams in batting average (.215), on-base percentage (.297), and
slugging percentage (.365) against southpaws. San Diego also ranks dead
last in OPS from left fielders (mostly Chase Headley) and right
fielders (mostly Brian Giles), so there’s plenty of room for Blanks
somewhere. Plus, who wouldn’t want to watch a surprisingly nimble
300-pounder chase after fly balls at Petco Park?

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