The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)
School: Arizona State University
Selected 2013 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (NR): I still have my high hopes for Blair, who ranks 37th overall this year after coming in at 30th last year. The right-hander did not make the community list.
In 2013, Blair finally had a season in which he threw over 100 innings – 129 2/3 to be exact. In that, he really improved his overall control of his pitches. Blair threw more strikes than he ever has before, as his walks per nine innings went down by four and his strikeouts per nine innings went up by two.
Even though this season was more about focusing on throwing strikes and repeating his mechanics consistently, the results came as he did those things individually. Now that he can throw strikes and the Cardinals have reportedly told him to find a simpler delivery without a windup, it leads me to believe that the organization has plans for him as a reliever next spring training.
As a reliever, Blair could just air it all out. He would not have to be as fine with his pitches all the time as when he goes through lineups multiple times every five days. He also would not have to worry too much about repeating his same release point as it exacerbates his command issues when starting.
When it comes down to stuff, Blair can match anyone in the organization. We all know about the overpowering fastball that has to be kept down in the zone to get the movement that makes it so difficult to hit at times. Otherwise, when it is up, the pitch flattens out like all pitchers’ fastballs do and can be easily squared up. I also saw him throw a curveball that is a swing and miss chase pitch, and change-up that has swing and miss potential. It has been said he can spin a slider as well but I have not seen it.
For me, Blair is undoubtedly a reliever long term. The command is too much of an issue for him to start anywhere above Double-A. I think we will all see Blair moved to the bullpen and used in that role at Memphis in 2014. - DTFlush234
Brian Walton (31): I admit that I had expected more from Blair coming off a good stretch in 2012 the Arizona Fall League. While his drop of 15 places on my list from last year to this indicates a less than ideal 2013, Blair did have an injury-free summer – important in itself.
An initial glance at his 3-9 record with a 5.07 ERA at Springfield may not inspire boatloads of confidence. His FIP of 4.52 is slightly better and his BABIP of .342 may signal some tough luck on batted balls.
The former Sun Devil star has what one scout says are two plus pitches – a fastball that was consistently in the 92-94 mph range and can touch 95 or 96 plus a curveball that is “so good that opposing batters could know it is coming and still be unable to hit it,” insisted one coach. To complete his four offerings, Blair also throws a slider and change up.
As noted above, Blair showed improvement by lowering his walk rate significantly while also logging a modest increase in strikeouts. This may be at least partially due to an adjustment made in his motion, having him come less over the top.
All things considered, with his varied offerings, improved command and encouraging tweaks, I cannot jump entirely off the bandwagon. Do be aware, however, that the Cardinals organization did not protect Blair from the Rule 5 draft. That indicates they feel he is not ready to stick on a big league roster, even as a reliever.
Bottom line, major league potential remains but number 31 as a possible MLB reliever is some distance from Blair’s number 11 placement as a starter on my list after he was drafted three years ago.
Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters’ philosophies in making their selections.
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