He is expected to get picked in the Major League Baseball draft, which starts Thursday. But if the pick doesn’t come as high as he likes or the opportunity for advancement is suspect, he has the option of returning to Jacksonville State to play his senior season in football and improve his draft stock in baseball.
In a nutshell, he isn’t fretting anything.
“I’m excited for it,” he said Thursday on his way to the beach. “I’m kind of in a win-win situation. If it doesn’t work out, I get to come out and finish out my senior season. It’s not a big deal.
“I’m not going to force into anything. It’s not going to be that tough of a decision for me to make. I’m not going to worry myself to death over something that doesn’t need to be. I’m sitting back and watching what
Blanchard was among 50 players who worked out for nearly three hours for the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Thursday. He threw in the outfield to show his arm the way he couldn’t in the infield, took ground balls at second base and hit for more than two dozen team personnel.
It was the only workout of its kind Blanchard has had since the Gamecocks’ season ended in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and the only one he’ll have before draft.
He played all four infield positions for the Gamecocks this season as well as some outfield, but teams are looking at him primarily as a middle infielder. He hit .305 with 27 extra-base hits, four homers, 37 RBIs and 15 stolen bases, but was .352 with 29 RBIs over his final 42 games. The family has been told by their advisor, Jason Rosas of Dallas-based Pro Sports
Services, teams have Blanchard “all over the board,” meaning he could go anywhere. The best-case scenario is he goes on the second day.
“Some of them have him in the top 10 (rounds), some don’t,” Blanchard’s father, Fran, said. “Guys who saw him early in the year kind of still were going off what he did in the Cape and needed to see him again. The Rays didn’t get to come back and see him.
“That’s why I wanted to get him down there, so they could see his athleticism. That’s what people are carrying him into the draft with; this is still a raw guy but athletic enough to play both sports (football and baseball). That’s the card we’re playing if somebody will gamble and say this is a good-looking athlete, long, strong and fast, that’s what we worry
Blanchard has been in this position before. He was drafted by the Baltimore
Orioles out of Cherokee County High and spent that summer negotiating with the leverage of being able to start a two-sport college career at JSU. There were some high-dollar figures mentioned at the time. He ultimately passed on the pros and has been a two-sport star for the Gamecocks the last three years.
“This time, it’s been a much easier process for Coty and me,” Fran said. “I don’t feel like I’m making every decision for him. We’re just getting out and enjoying it. Everybody asks what I’m going to do during the draft. I’m going to go to work, do what we do and if something good happens, then great. What coach (Jim) Case has coming back, it could be a great year either way.
“We could’ve sat back when he was drafted out of high school and waited for the structure, then we don’t beat Ole Miss (in football) and we miss a lot of the good things that come with going to college. Baseball is going to end sometime, and I can see him being a fantastic coach. It’s going to be set up well for him with that. I think all the decisions have been right now.” Now, it’s all about who and when. Both son and father said Thursday they didn’t have a round in mind that was too high to consider not signing, but the best opportunity for advancement through the system would be a factor.
In any event, Blanchard won’t be playing any summer ball while the expected negotiations progress.
“To me, this is a more exciting time because, going through the recruiting for college and pro sports, it was really daunting,” Fran Blanchard said. “I knew it was and for him too after that ended and we finally went on there were days I’d wonder, Did I make the right decision for Coty to do this?’
“Now, three years later I see him perform as did today (at Tropicana Field) and I know we did. The excitement now is really a controlled excitement because we really do hold the cards with him being able to come back next year. We’re going to decide and we will give input and Jason will give input, but ultimately it will be Coty’s decision.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.