Hot Rod of the Day 4/7/14: Pat Blair

By Fletcher Keel

Yesterday afternoon, the Bowling Green Hot Rods wrapped up their first series of the 2014 season, and it took extra innings to decide the outcome, but ultimately, the South Bend Silver Hawks would take the final game 7-5 to earn a split in split in the four-game set. Unlike Saturday night, where the bats were virtually non existent, seven out of the starting nine batters hat at least one hit, and the Hot Rods took advantage of some early Silver Hawk errors to take a 5-3 lead after four innings. But the Bowling Green bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead, and the Hot Rods fell to an even .500 record in a 10-inning affair. We were dangerously close to naming Granden Goetzman to his second Hot Rod of the Day honor in only the third installment of this new series, but luckily, another player emerged and played a vital role in his own right.

Pat Blair, a 12th round draft pick out of Wake Forrest in 2013, went 1-3 with a walk yesterday, but made the most of his time on base. Blair reached base on a walk in the bottom of the second inning and scored the first run of the game for Bowling Green on a Juniel Querecuto ground out. Blair and Querecuto then teamed up again in the fourth inning (a 3-run inning for the Hot Rods), as Blair knocked a one out double, and a Querecuto single brought him home.

Blair, who was drafted as a shortstop, was originally selected in the 24th round by the Houston Astros in 2012, but decided to return back to Wake for his senior year. He is known for his patience at the plate, which was certainly on display yesterday with his walk. He isn’t known for his size (5’10”, 180 lbs.) or his ability in the field. He tried to play shortstop at Hudson Valley in 2013, and in addition to struggling mightily at the position, it also affected him at the plate as he hit just .168. But even in his disastrous pro debut, Blair still managed a .315 on-base percentage, drawing 17 walks against 28 strikeouts. So far in 2014, Blair has logged one game each at second base and third base, and his good range and solid actions could make him a solid defender at either position. He also has the instincts to be a solid stolen base threat. At the end of the day, Blair’s likely role is as an offensive-minded utility player who uses his ability to recognize pitches to key his success at the plate. Now that he has moved off shortstop, maybe Blair can finally get comfortable and deliver the all-around numbers he is capable of producing.

Pat Blair already has a full year with Michael Johns under his belt after playing under him at Hudson Valley last season, and Johns knows what he is capable of. The Hot Rods are a small-ball minded team, and Blair is perfectly built to get on and get in to get the Bowling Green offense going. This is going to be an interesting year for Blair, and we will start to get an idea of where his career will head from here.