Friday, September 14, 2001
[ PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL ]
Darren Blakely traveled more than most minor league baseball players with a Hawaii connection during the 2001 season.
Two trades affected
By Al Chase
That's because he was part of two trades -- one from the Anaheim Angels organization to the New York Yankees, and the other from the Yankees to the San Diego Padres.
The first trade at the end of spring training caught Blakely by surprise. The second, just before the July 1 trading deadline, made the former Hawaii center fielder happy.
The Yankees unloaded designated hitter Glenallen Hill to the Angels for Blakely and assigned him to Norwich, Conn., in the Double-A Eastern League.
"They already had the outfield set in Norwich," Blakely said.
Despite hitting .300 as a part-time player, he couldn't crack the starting lineup, so the Yankees sent him to Tampa in the Class-A Florida State League.
"It was a big disappointment." Blakely said. "I played in the Eastern League all last year. I was just a new guy who got weeded out."
He got off to a slow start with Tampa and finally got into a rhythm at the plate, only to be traded to the Padres.
"That was a good move for me," Blakely said. "The Padres have seen me play before and there is more room to advance with them than there is with the Yankees."
"San Diego is looking for some guys to make some noise. They told me they like what I've got. I'm a switch-hitting outfielder who can play all three positions with speed and I have a good arm."
San Diego sent Blakely to Mobile in the Double-A Southern League and again, he struggled at the plate. Then he had a long chat with George Hendrick, the Padres roving hitting instructor.
"I thought I had a pretty good command of the strike zone, but he implanted a plan in my head for me to follow at the plate and I stuck with it the last two weeks of the season," said Blakely, who has shown power during his pro career, but also strikes out a lot.
The Padres think enough of Blakely's potential to send him to Fall League in Arizona. This league is designed to test the top prospects from Double-A and Triple-A against each other. It is not to be confused with instructional league.
"I want to cut down on my strikeouts," Blakely said. "I'm not a home run hitter from the right side, although I occasionally turn on a pitch, but that's rare."
"I'm more of a line drive hitter right-handed. My swing from the left side is an upper cut swing and that's when I hit home runs."
He has hit 46 homers over the last three seasons.
Hopefully, next season he won't have to adjust to three new teams during the season. Overall, Blakely said he did pretty good this year and plans to play until he can't play anymore.
DARREN BLAKELY'S CAREER STATISTICS
Schools:Pensacola (Fla.) H.S., Hawaii
Year, Team, League G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB Avg. 1998-Boise, Northwest 71 267 50 74 9 6 5 33 9 .277 1999-Lake Elsinore, California 124 510 88 128 38 10 12 63 23 .251 2000-Erie (Pa.), Eastern 122 439 72 104 20 7 16 54 13 .237 2001-Norwich (Conn.), Eastern 10 20 2 6 0 0 0 2 3 .300 2001-Tampa, Florida State 86 313 47 80 14 5 12 39 24 .256 2001-Mobile, Southern 28 115 19 25 4 2 6 15 4 .217 Minor League Totals 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 .123
>> Drafted in the 5th round by the Anaheim Angels, June 2, 1998. Signed June 11,1998.
>> Led Boise in strikeouts (69) in 1998.
>> Listed as a top prospect (No. 10) in the Anaheim organization by Baseball America, January 1999.
>> Led Lake Elsinore in runs scored (88) in 1999.
>> Finished second in strikeouts (159), tied for third in triples (10) and was fourth in doubles (38) in the California League in 1999.
>> Led the Eastern League in strikeouts (136) in 2000.
>> Traded by the Anaheim Angels to the New York Yankees for outfielder Glenallen Hill, March 28, 2001.
>> Traded by the New York Yankees with right-hander Brett Jodie and cash considerations for left-hander Sterling Hitchcock, July 30, 2001.
This is part of a series profiling professional baseball players from Hawaii. Tomorrow, Molokai High School graduate Keith Luuloa will be profiled.