The Padres called up right-handed hitting first baseman Kyle Blanks -- their best position prospect -- from Triple-A for this weekend's series with Oakland. Blanks is a natural first baseman, but he's made 15 starts in left field this season, and with Adrian Gonzalez not going anywhere, the team is looking for Blanks to play another position.
Blanks is a monstrous 6-foot-6, 285-pound slugger with power and patience, and is quite athletic for his size. It has been reported that he has handled left field better than many expected, to the point he might be acceptable there in the majors, given his bat stays hot. He hit .325 at Double-A last year with a .404 on-base percentage and 20 homers, his second straight year with that kind of production, putting up similar numbers at high Class-A in 2007. He hit .283 with 12 homers in 66 Triple-A games prior to getting the call, with a .393 OBP, offsetting 63 strikeouts, and he posted a 1.106 OPS against southpaws. Most big righty sluggers with long levers are susceptible to be being beaten on the inner half of the plate, but Blanks understands his swing well enough to trade some power for more bat control to good effect. He has enough plate discipline to eventually keep the strikeouts somewhat reasonable for a player with his power output. He's been a little more eager to offer at offspeed stuff away since being promoted this year, but I think he can tighten that up.
Though it's possible Blanks may not stick around in the big leagues after this weekend, both Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff need to start turning it on a bit or Blanks could be in the mix for more at-bats in left field (with Headley shifting to third in place of Kouzmanoff if need be.) Regardless, the 22-year-old Blanks is an intriguing power prospect to watch, even if he's in the wrong park to take advantage of it.
• Although Mike Carp is a solid first-base prospect, don't expect much in the near future. He's a left-handed hitter who will turn 23 years old at the end of the month. He has handled his first exposure to Triple-A pitching well, hitting .293 with 10 homers in 211 at-bats and handling the strike zone well enough to post a .412 OBP, earning a promotion when Erik Bedard went on the disabled list.
This may only be a temporary stay in the big leagues, as Russell Branyan , who missed Thursday's game because of his grandfather's funeral, is expected back this weekend. With Branyan putting up a .307 batting average and slugging just less than .600, Carp won't be taking at-bats from him any time soon, and Ken Griffey Jr. blocks Carp as a left-handed DH. Carp has played left field in five games at Triple-A this season, so he could stick around and get some time there. I don't see the Mariners wanting to keep Carp on the bench in the majors when he could be playing every day at Triple-A, so he's not a likely fantasy consideration at the moment. Long-term, Carp has drawn a lot of comparisons to Mike Jacobs scouting-wise for his statistical profile, but Carp has the potential to hit for a better batting average with less power thanks to better plate discipline. He's a decent prospect but I don't think he's ready to hit in the big leagues just yet, and he may not get an extended chance to prove that notion wrong.