With the reveal of Baseball America’s 2017 top Phillies prospects, there came a reminder that a battalion of young talent is waiting for its chance within this organization. The Phillies, recalling this concept during the barren, baseball-less weeks of December, realized that while prospects are good to have, they would need a protean veteran presence with a sparkling grin to keep everyone jazzed about baseball all season long.
This was a long-awaited development for anyone whose life revolves around the release of Phillies press releases. Blanco wanted to return, the Phillies wanted him to want to return (The Phillies, in general, just like to feel wanted), and there is plenty of space for the 32-year-old on the bench. The leadership Blanco displayed in 2016 was well-documented and seemingly appreciated, allowing him to fill a mentoring role that, as he told reporters this past season, he did not have as a young player.
All those feel-gooderies aside, Blanco slashed .253/.316/.405 this season, with 15 doubles and seven home runs in 90 games. So stunning was his first half (.267 BA, .764 OPS, 13 2B) that his name was mentioned endlessly as a potential trade chip for the Phillies, only to fracture his left index finger on July 24 and miss all of August. Despite the missed time, the Phillies were able to find a place for him everywhere in the infield, with most of his time spent at second and third base. He was surprisingly ineffective being inserted into games, hitting .161 as a pinch hitter in 31 AB.
He liked righties more than lefties, (.263 vs. RHP, .211 vs. LHP); he hit better away from Citizens Bank Park than in it (.275 away, .227 home). But for three million dollars, he will likely be able to purchase a new index finger off the black market over the winter and return to Clearwater as the cyborg veteran presence the Phillies need.