It began with Johnny Cueto, who inked a mammoth nine-figure contract with the San Francisco Giants mostly on the back of his club Hall of Fame worthy career with the Cincinnati Reds. As the Giants front office continued to evolve, though, signing pitchers formerly tracked down and employed by the Reds became too much of a trend to ignore.
Kevin Gausman followed. Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood have now signed twice with the Giants, who are looking to replicate a brilliant 107 win campaign in 2022. Over the weekend, the Giants added to the ever-growing list, as they signed Alex Blandino, too.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle had the news, noting that it’s a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, should that ever exist in 2022.
I’m hearing the Giants signed utility player Alex Blandino (St Francis, Stanford) to a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training. Farhan Zaidi has shown he is committed to bringing in players with local ties so this makes a lot of sense.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 10, 2021
Now, the Giants appear to initially be planning to use Blandino on the offensive side of the ball, where the former 1st round pick out of Stanford has repeatedly shown versatility and a unique ability to get on base throughout the minor leagues. Paired with a proclivity to smack LHP at a decent clip, it’s the kind of profile I thought deserved more of a consistent chance at the big league level, especially on the kind of mostly cruddy big league teams the Reds have rolled out during Blandino’s career.
Alas, a serious knee injury set him back at precisely the time when he could’ve had the chance to showcase those skills, and he ended up stuck in limbo with the Reds as they passed over him at every infield position lately, and Blandino ultimately became a free agent over the winter.
Now, the real story here is whether the Giants will put on their visionary goggles, look past the 68 OPS+ Blandino has put up in 279 career big league PA, and focus on this absolute filthy portion of his potential arsenal:
Alex Blandino, Filthy 67 mph Knuckle Ball. pic.twitter.com/ivFAvcv7YQ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2018
It’s truly magnificent, the precise kind of untapped weapon that gave Blandino some serious street cred as a pitching prospect. The numbers even backed it up, for a time, before he was hung out to dry in a 17-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies back in early June, tagged for 4 ER that eventually made his overall body of pitching work look stale.
Anyway, this ends Blandino’s time with the Reds organization, and the Northern California native gets to go home to an organization in a deal that just kinda screams yeah, they’ll figure out a way to make this not the last we hear of the kid. Let’s just hope that at least once it’s on the mound with him flicking a filthy, spinless floater at another mystified batter.