Cincinnati Reds: 3 dark horse candidates to start at shortstop in 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a runner out after fielding the ball in the seventh inning. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a runner out after fielding the ball in the seventh inning. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during an intrasquad scrimmage.
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 10: Alex Blandino #0 of the Cincinnati Reds bats during an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

1. Alex Blandino, Reds infielder

To be quite honest, I was very surprised that we didn’t see Alex Blandino in the big leagues last season. The Cincinnati Reds first-round draft pick in 2014 and former Stanford Cardinal had a very productive spring training until camp was shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Blandino, while fat the alternate site all summer, never made an appearance in 2020.

For his career, Blandino is not going to overwhelm you with offensive statistics. However, I think it’s fair to say that unless the Reds front office pulls off a blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for Willy Adames, an offensive-minded shortstop isn’t in the cards for the Reds heading into the 2021 season.

Alex Blandino only has 92 career major league starts and less than 200 at-bats, however, in Cactus League play last spring, he slashed .423/.500/.731 with 11 hits in 26 at-bats and seven RBIs. Blandino has a keen eye at the plate as his .349 career on-base percentage suggests. Blandino’s time in the minors saw him post a career-OBP of .365 including .386 at Triple-A.

Blandino doesn’t do any one thing great, but he does a lot of things very well. Blandino fits the role of utility player better than shortstop, but in this season of uncertainty, the Reds could roll the dice with a former first-rounder and see what Blandino offers.