CINCINNATI -- Reds infield prospect Alex Blandino seemed poised to play himself right off of the organization's radar in 2015-16 as he struggled to hit. That all changed in 2017, as Blandino's bat started to click, powering him to a breakout campaign.
Blandino was added to the 40-man roster in November and was among those invited to the MLB Rookie Career Development Program in Virginia last week.
"It's a huge honor to be here and to learn from so many guys that have been here and done this," Blandino said of the program to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. "I'm thankful for the Players Association to put this on for us."
Blandino, 25, is the No. 25 prospect in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline. Last season, he batted .265/.382/.453 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs over 125 games combined with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville.
How did Blandino turn his career around?
"I think just getting back to the things that always made me successful growing up and in college -- just competing every day and doing the little things," he said.
A first-round pick (29th overall) in the 2014 Draft, Blandino's struggles began after he was promoted midway through the 2015 season from Class A Advanced Daytona to Pensacola. Although he had a .350 on base percentage, he hit just .235. He spent the entire '16 season at Pensacola, hitting .232/.333/.337 with eight homers and 37 RBIs.
"It's all about the journey," Blandino said. "It's hard to plan when you're young. You don't always know what to expect. But every step of the way, it's about improving and learning and having a successful career moving forward. Luckily last year, I got back on the right track I was looking to be on. I'm really excited for 2018."
Blandino was selected out of Stanford University as a shortstop, but played only five games at the position last season. He primarily plays second base now, but also got significant time at third base. The Reds view him as someone that could come up and handle himself defensively at any of the three positions.
"Coming up through the Minors, it's finding your place in the organization, finding where you fit in and where you can help them," Blandino said. "Bouncing around, having that defensive versatility, I think it's something I pride myself in for sure. I think the Reds are looking forward to having me help them. If you can hit and play multiple positions, it's easier for them to find a place for you."