Could Kyle Blanks Be San Diego's Matt Kemp?

Justin MarkowitzContributor IMarch 22, 2010

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 07:  Kyle Blanks #66 of the San Diego Padres bats during the spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at Peoria Stadium on March 7, 2009 in Peoria, Arizona. The A's defeated the Padres 15-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Now, you're probably wondering something: "Who is Kyle Blanks?"

Kyle Blanks is a 6'6'', 270 pound outfielder on the San Diego Padres. He is currently going to start in left field and hit either in front of or behind Adrian Gonzalez for the Padres, according to the depth chart.  

This 24-year-old is going to be a star, and it looks like it is going to happen sooner than later. In just 54 games and 148 at bats, Blanks hit 10 home runs, 22 RBI's, and had a .250 average.  

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to see him start out as a professional ball player when he played in the minor leagues high A ball club for the Lake Elsinore Storm. He was the biggest player I have ever seen play there.

When I saw him swing the bat like a monster, and then run extremely fast and steal bases, I immediately thought to myself, "This guy is going to be the future of the San Diego Padres."  

When I saw him, he was playing first base, and did a fine job at fielding too. This guy had everything. The only thing he had going against him was his strikeouts, but that is completely normal for a young, power-hitting player.  

He doesn't hit fly balls, he hits rockets. His line drives soar over the fielder's heads and when he hits the ball on the ground the infielders have problems even seeing it.

I knew it wouldn't be long before he made it to the majors. In fact, he was in the big leagues within a year from when I saw him down at single A. I knew he would make it there quickly, so I got his autograph right away.

As a huge Dodgers fan, I never really liked the Padres. However, living so close to San Diego, and having their single A team close by, I got to see players grow from just starting out to making it to Petco Park. I saw players such as Matt Antonelli, Will Venable, and many others make it to the bigs after watching them at single A.  

After watching him long enough, I began to notice that he is exactly like my favorite player on the Dodgers, Matt Kemp. Kemp is tall (6'3''), fast enough to steal bases, hits for power, is excellent at fielding, and struck out a lot when he first made it to the big league club. The only difference between the two is that Kemp is two years older than Blanks.  

The ironic thing was, I even started to become a Kyle Blanks fan even though he was on a rival team. I was proud of him when he had four hits in one game, even though it was against the Dodgers.

Last spring Blanks ended up in 30 games, had 69 at bats, hit four home runs, had 13 RBI, and hit .319.

This spring, Blanks is tearing it up once again for the second year in a row, hitting .471 in 34 at bats, a .500 on base percentage, .735 slugging percentage, seven RBI, and two stolen bases in two attempts. He is on pace for a very good spring, and will definitely make the team again if he continues his tear.  

This is going to be his first year as an everyday starter in left field. Look for him to hit at least 15 to 20 home runs, steal at least 15 bases, and look for him to strike out quite often (around one strike out per three at bats). He might even be a good fantasy option if you need an outfielder with power and speed that no one knows about.  

Either way, this guy is going to be a star once he perfects his knowledge of the strike zone. He could even be the Padre's new Jason Bay. Hopefully the Padres won't make the same mistake as they did with Bay by trading him away, however.