The versatile Jacksonville State junior was among an estimated 50 players who worked out for nearly three hours at an invitation-only session for the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Playing in what was described as optimum conditions for such an exercise, Blanchard threw in the outfield, took balls at second base and hit in front of more than two dozen team personnel.
“It went really good,” Blanchard said as he and dad Fran drove from St. Petersburg to Gulf Shores for a vacation. “They thought I had a really strong arm, thought I was smooth in the field and made all the throws and had a good round of BP. There were three positives. I thought I had a great day.”
The workout was the only one 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 opens Thursday.
Although the workout was for the Rays, Blanchard could be taken by any team.
He has 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. The family has been told by its advisor, Jason Rosas of Dallas-based Pro Sports Services, teams have Blanchard “all over the board.”
Part of the reason they went to Tropicana Field was because the Rays didn’t get to see Blanchard after an initial look early in the season when he was transitioning from football.
“It was something for them to see me and size me up,” Blanchard said. “It was a good experience. There are a bunch of teams out there who want to try to draft me. … The Rays are definitely looking at me and that did nothing but help me.”
Blanchard has the option of returning to JSU next year and reiterated Thursday that returning in the fall to play quarterback for the Gamecocks was “still in the plan.” The family said it didn’t have a cutoff round that would forego signing at this point.
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.