In the first major promotion of the year for a White Sox hitting prospect, catcher Mike Blanke was been moved up from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem today.
Blanke was drafted in the 14th round of last year's draft, but quickly caught everyone's attention with a strong season for Great Falls both offensively and defensively. The Canadian born catcher hit .329/.400/.508 with the Voyagers, displaying good power and contact abilities. However, the reason publications like Baseball America began to rate Blanke so highly was because of his defensive reviews. He has a plus arm and decent enough mobility for his size, which should allow him to stay at catcher (something in question for other Sox catching prospects Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley).
The former Tampa University man got off to a hot start this year, but slumped lately which makes the timing of the promotion quite odd. Blanke was hitting .305 for the Intimidators after April 23, but he's gone 26-111 (.234) since including a current 2-34 slump. Overall, his triple slash line for Kannapolis was .259/.311/.382.
Given Blanke's defensive abilities, his bat shouldn't have to carry him through the system. This promotion could be evidence of that, but even so these numbers are slightly discouraging. The positives are that he still is making a lot of contact and showing decent power.
Blanke's departure from Kannapolis opens up the catcher spot. Maybe Miguel Gonzalez will get the call from extended spring training to make his 2011 debut.