SSS rank among all second basemen in the system: 4
Taken out of Ole Miss in the 13th round of the 2017 draft, second baseman Tate Blackman was signed for a $100,000 bonus and reported to Great Falls, where he adjusted to professional baseball quickly and produced a respectable .245 batting average and .359 on-base percentage, with five HR in 49 games.
During the offseason after being drafted, Blackman he made some significant swing changes with his personal guru Brandon Brewer, who serves as a volunteer assistant with the Stetson University baseball program. These adjustments were designed to help him tap into his power.
Blackman tells South Side Sox, “In college, I was swinging down and throwing my hands at the ball. One month before spring training, Brandon and I were working on keeping separation between my hips and my hands and allowing them to work independently of one another. I was focusing on keeping the barrel in the zone longer and trying to create more opportunities for success.”
The experimentation clearly worked, as Blackman was on fire for the first month of the 2018 season. He homered twice and notched eight hits in his first 14 at bats, en route to a .333 batting average and .875 OPS in April. On the strength of a very solid first half (.305 batting average and .392 on-base), Blackman earned a spot in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and was one of the finalists in the home run derby.
Adam McInturff (@adam2080 on Twitter), a scout for the 2080 Baseball website said Blackman caught the attention of several scouts at the All-Star Game, over some of the other more high-profile names. McInturff points out that Blackman may fall into the category of a 3A/4A player because he lacks a card-carrying tool, but he hits the ball hard and displays a good feel for hitting, which gives him a realistic shot at the big leagues.
Although Blackman cooled off dramatically after the All-Star break (.183 batting average, .297 on-base), Blackman displayed exceptional power for a second baseman by hammering 17 long balls. One encouraging item of note is although the overall hitting line was down significantly in the second half, Blackman’s strikeout, walk and home run rates were nearly identical — an indication that bad luck played a factor.
When asked about the drop-off in his overall stat line after the break, Blackman offers that some of it may have been the result of fatigue, as he played 129 games in 2018 as opposed to 65 during his longest collegiate season. He also felt that he may have lost some of his focus in at-bats, particularly when he had two strikes. Although he considers himself to be an aggressive hitter, Blackman suggests that he needs to protect better when he’s behind in the count.
In the field, Blackman plays an adequate second base and has been working to improve his defense at third in order to increase his versatility. He says he’s been taking a lot of ground balls at third and trying to improve his first step.
Blackman admits that last year was the first time he played third base since he was 11 years old, and he felt that he was waiting too long for the ball to get to him, then rushing throws when he saw runners barreling down the first-base line. As a second baseman, Blackman acknowledges there is more time to react without feeling the same pressure.
Blackman is another high-character kid, with a great makeup and high baseball IQ. He points out that his knowledge of the game and the patience that comes with it is his strength. “If I go 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, you won’t see me with a frown on my face,” he says. “I’m going to maintain a positive attitude through the up and downs of the season.” In fact, that ties into the best professional advice Blackman says he’s ever received: “Baseball is a game of failure, so don’t be afraid to fail aggressively.”
Blackman’s goals for the 2019 season are simple: Stay healthy and finish the season in AA, which he understands is his age appropriate level. Overall, there is a lot in Blackman for White Sox fans to be excited about. BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem will offer a more offense-friendly environment, and last year Blackman learned a lot about his body and what he needs to do to hold up during the season’s dog days.
Blackman is a player who White Sox fans should be tracking and following. If he can produce a full season line like his first half of 2018, he will climb the organizational prospect list rapidly. Look for him to open some eyes in 2019.
Take a look!
First, a lost-in-the-lights inside-the-parker featuring badass hustle from Blackman:
And something from our friends at 2080 Baseball:
2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects
53. Josue Guerrero, LF
62. Tate Blackman, 2B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP
More information on South Side Top Prospects.