There is still a chance that, some 10 years later, the Cincinnati Reds are going to get some residual value from Shin-Soo Choo signing a $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
You may recall that came back in the day when teams picked up compensation picks when players who’d reached free agency with them signed elsewhere, with large enough free agent contracts being comped with back-end 1st round draft picks. Choo’s megadeal with Texas after his brilliant 2013 season with the Reds qualified as such, and as the entirety of free agency shook out, the Reds were left with the 29th pick of the 2014 MLB Draft (on top of the 18th pick, which was used to select Nick Howard).
That 29th pick was used on Stanford’s Alex Blandino, and while Blandino repeatedly flashed some pretty elite OBP skills as an infielder while coming up in the Reds system, he merely got cameo roles across three seasons at the big league level before being released to pursue his baseball career elsewhere. But after a couple of seasons plying his old trade around the world, Blandino returned to the Reds back in November on a minor league deal, a deal that, at the time, seemed to be nothing more than a feel-good, depth-related reunion.
Alex Blandino, Filthy 67 mph Knuckle Ball. pic.twitter.com/ivFAvcv7YQ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2018
As it turns out, there may be so much more to this move.
Blandino’s prowess on the mound as a late-inning mopper-upper has long been steeped in Red Reporter lore, his ability to hit 90 mph without a blink paired with his borderline unhittable knuckleball the stuff of legend. And now, it seems, Blandino is going to actually try to make a thing out of that niche ability.
Per Nicaraguan sports reporter Fernando Rayo, Blandino is going to officially attempt to make it as a knuckler, and he’ll do so while back within the Reds ranks.
Alex Blandino, convertido en pitcher— 8DeportivoTN8 (@8DeportivoTN8) January 18, 2024
El ahora ex infielder Alex Blandino firmó contrato de Ligas Menores como PITCHER con los @Reds ; de hecho Blandino se especializará en lanzamiento de nudillos en su carrera ahora como lanzador, la cual comenzará en Doble A. pic.twitter.com/BnMcpUjsVH
Hemos conocido que Alex Blandino firmó como PITCHER un contrato de Ligas Menores con los @Reds .— Fernando Rayo (@Rayo2Fer) January 18, 2024
Blandino debutó en MLB como Infielder y jugó 135 partidos; luego de un retiro y reaparecer en el WBC con Nicaragua, ahora se convirtió en PITCHER NUDILLISTA e iniciará en Doble A. pic.twitter.com/EqweIbzd4j
If what Rayo has heard checks out, the Great Blandino will begin his journey with AA Chattanooga, though it remains to be seen if he’ll get any run around the infield while plying his new trade, too.