Over the past six weeks or so, I’ve been traveling to as many Midwest League games as possible to record and scout some of the prospects on hand. This included trips to Beloit, WI (Snappers), Appleton, WI (Timber Rattlers), Peoria, IL (Chiefs), and Clinton, IA (Lumberkings). It was an awesome experience being able to watch a lot of future Major Leaguers, as well seeing the unique designs of each ballpark. Just last month, I wrote up a full scouting report on Brewers’ prospects Trent Clark, Isan Diaz, and Lucas Erceg. This time around, I wanted to do a full profile. One of the players I have been watching quite a bit has been Twins’ prospect Travis Blankenhorn and luckily for me, he put together a show when I saw him and was nice enough to sit down with me for an interview after one of his playoff games. With that being said, time to find out more about Travis Blankenhorn.
Blankenhorn grew up roughly 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia in the small city of Pottsville – roughly 14,000 people. A student at the Pottsville Area High School, the infielder had committed to the University of Kentucky, but it seemed as if his plans were to go pro all along. “I had my agent at my house and as long as I was going to get a good deal, I was going to go start my professional career.” The Pennsylvania native was drafted in the 3rd round in 2015 by the Minnesota Twins and decided to make the leap to the pros, inking a dealincluding a $650,000 signing bonus.
Between two Rookie ball teams in 2015, Blankenhorn went on to hit .244/.321/.347 with three HR in 53 games. But fast forward to this season, the left-handed hitter has been a whole new player. In 59 games, which included a promotion to the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, Blankenhorn slashed .293/.348/.502 with 10 HR and 41 RBI. I asked him if there were any major adjustments he made in the offseason, but that didn’t seem to be the case. “I would say last season coming out of high school, seeing the pro pitchers was a lot different than the high school pitchers – just had to get use to that. With this being my second year, I am now more comfortable with that pitching.”
In the four games I saw Blankenhorn play, he went 5-for-15 with four runs, two doubles, a triple, a HR, four RBI, a HBP, and five strikeouts. There were definitely times he looked dialed in at the plate, on the other hand there were still some difficulties. But first, let’s look at the good.
Wow. A missile from #Twins prospect Travis #Blankenhorn. What a sound off the bat. Opposite field 2-run HR. #MLBpic.twitter.com/s1PhCfaSTa
— Jack Conness (@JackConness) August 17, 2016
Take a look, and especially a listen, at this home run he hit August 16th against the Peoria Chiefs. That noise just sends shivers down my spine. That ball was absolutely clobbered. My favorite part was the power shown to the opposite field. Throughout the games I saw him play, he sprayed the ball to all parts of the field. I asked him what his thought process was when going into an at-bat. “My approach is up the middle. I am just trying to hit the ball hard – barrel the ball up and just hit it up the middle.” Barrel the ball he did in the video above. And take a look at this picture:
What I enjoyed most about this home run is that Blankenhorn drove this pitch on the outside black 380-some feet to left-center field. Instead of rolling over on it and yanking it to the right side, he squared up the pitch and took it deep. That is impressive to see in younger hitters. Blankenhorn mentioned on numerous occasions he is just trying to barrel the ball up when he is at the plate and that is something he definitely displayed in the few games I saw him.