It was all the way back in 2009 when the hype surrounding the 6-foot-6, 260 pound Kyle Blanks began in the fantasy baseball community, but the hype has been nothing but that; until this season.
A basic afterthought heading into the year after doing very little in the minors and majors over the past three seasons, the big man has taken advantage of an opportunity with the San Diego Padres and has started to really mash in June. After recording 12 hits in 50 at-bats in the entire month of May, Blanks already has 12 in 28 at-bats this month; including three home runs, two doubles, seven runs scored and eight RBI. His OPS for the month is an absurdly high 1.324, and fantasy owners need to start taking advantage of the hot-hitting outfielder currently owned in less than four percent of ESPN leagues.
The excitement surrounding Blanks back in 2009 was thanks to his 76 home runs in three-and-a-half minor league seasons. The power potential was fantastic, and his patience at the plate made many believe he’d be able to translate that to the majors. He was called up to the bigs in mid-2009, and while the power was there (10 home runs, .514 slugging in 54 games), he struck out entirely too much (32 percent K-rate) to have consistent success at the plate.
He was reset at high-A ball in 2010 and all of a sudden, the power was gone. He got another shot in the majors but managed only three home runs in 33 games after failing to hit any in 48 plate appearances in the minors. The worst part was not only was the power gone, but he also hit just .157 and had the lowest OBP (.283) of his career at any level.
In 2011, the power was back and things were looking up a bit. He dominated Triple-A again and got his shot with the Padres, but his production was similar to 2009 with some power but a very low average. He hoped get it going last season but his hopes were dashed after just a few weeks as he needed Tommy John surgery.
The surgery seems to have done him well as he has had success since getting the call in mid-April this year. Thus far he has six home runs and 21 RBI with a .901 OPS on the season and he’s really found the power stroke of late. He’s done a great job getting on base and has kept his K-rate down to a more respectable 19.5. Owners in deep leagues should grab him now, while those in standard leagues will want to keep a close eye on him and should jump if his recent success continues.