Brian Blasik comes across as a quiet, unassuming, even-keeled individual. Signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent this summer, he quietly made a statement in his first season, hitting .318/.346/.424 over 55 games and being named the Greeneville Astros MVP as he ranked fifth in the league in batting average and RBI. In his college career with the University of Dayton, he made the Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team three years straight and was named a Louisville Slugger All-American his senior year when he hit .343/.390/.484 with a school record 36 stolen bases.
RHP Adrian Houser, Brian's teammate, picked Brian as the Astros hitter he would least like to face in the batter's box, saying, "He's a freak; he's just so good. Guys joking around call him Baby Jesus because you hardly ever see him go a game without getting a hit. He's a solid infielder. He just plays the game how it's supposed to be played, works hard."
I interviewed Brian last month in Greeneville. Here is what he had to say [edited for brevity and clarity] ~
On why he thinks he wasn't drafted: "I was in Dayton. I'm not the biggest guy in the world. I don't have the best arm. I don't hit the most home runs or anything like that so it's really hard for me to stand out in a see-me-one-time [way]. I think the best thing for me is you've got to see me throughout a season and see how I am. That's kind of the situation. I think I didn't get drafted because I'm not a showcase guy ... one time seeing me, 'I should draft him,' but you have to see me over the span of a season, I think. [I] played summer league ball in Coastal Plains the last two years, did pretty special in that, had a great college career and everything, so I got my chance here."
On his MVP season: "I've been doing pretty well. Just trying to do everything I've done the past years I've played baseball and not let anything get to my head or anything like that. Just play for fun really. Just see what I can do."
What is his natural position?: "I played shortstop in college mostly, and the outfield in summer ball mostly. So I've played pretty much everywhere. Been playing second base here. I'm pretty comfortable everywhere in the field really. I never really had a set position in college. [It] took me to senior year to play shortstop even. I played outfield, second base, third base, shortstop and same thing with summer ball league so I've been pretty sound in [those] positions. It helped me out a lot getting a lot of playing time in summer ball. And second base is just really the same thing as shortstop."
On coming into the organization with Dayton teammate Mike Hauschild: "It helped. Made me a little more comfortable knowing who my roommate's going to be ahead of time. That takes one stress out of the thing, knowing I'm going to room with him. Great guy. I roomed with him for four years already. We were in the same house, six people to a house, and he was one of them."
On his season accomplishments: "I think I've accomplished being able to be confident. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect really, competition level and stuff, so I was trying to be myself. That's what I feel like I've accomplished so far, accomplished showing that I can do it at this level for now at least. And in the future I think I just need to keep showing that I can do it and keep producing and keep getting jobs done and keep being sound defensively and having good at-bats and getting some more walks probably. I haven't had a lot of walks so far. That's probably the one thing I need to work on [from] a batting standpoint."
On teammate Jean Batista who was promoted to Tri-City mid-season: "He's a great guy. He swings at a lot of pitches. He had a lot of power. He hit a lot of doubles, triples and home runs. Just a great hitter all around, hits almost any pitch. That probably sums him up right there. He played mostly at first base. It was new to him and it took a couple of games to get used to it, but after that he was great at first base, played shortstop a couple of games, was fine there too."
Which teammate would he least like to face on the mound?: "Mike [Hauschild] has a lot of nasty pitches really ... lot of changeups and fastballs and breaks a decent amount of bats, [but] I'm going to say [Jordan] Jankowski because he throws a ton of sliders. I don't like sliders. I like hitting fastballs, but to be honest everyone does I guess. He throws all sliders and so I'd probably least like to face him because of that."
What would he do if he couldn't play baseball?: "Probably start off giving lessons to high school kids, make some money that way and see where I could go from there, go into coaching maybe, finish up on school, maybe get into a college coaching stuation. [Baseball] has been my whole entire life. I've spent 18 years doing it already so why stop at 18 years? I've got a lot of experience in it."
What has been the biggest surprise about pro ball?: "I'm surprised at how much it's like summer ball, like the summer leagues. That's all you do is baseball. I expected that. I was expecting it to probably be more intense, I think. It's pretty relaxed. They keep you comfortable. College was really demanding. It's demanding here, but coaches yell at you all the time [in college] - it's stressful. I was surprised they keep it non-stressful for you [here]. It's a stressful sport and everything but I'm surprised how [much] less stressful it is than what I was expecting compared to school baseball."
Who on the team makes him laugh?: "Ricky Gingras makes me laugh. He's a funny guy I think. I don't think he even tries to. He just does."
What would he say to Astros fans about the future?: "From what I've heard, all the minor league teams are doing pretty well lately. [There's] a lot of good talent, especially Correa's been pretty good for us. He looks pretty solid. A lot of players here look pretty good. That's good news as the years go on."
Final words: "[I'm] having a lot of fun. Not many people get to play a game for their life, for their career, and that's kind of a nice thing to say. You think of the alternative and you could be going in to work 9 to 5 [instead of] just coming to the field to hit BP, take ground balls, throw, do a little running and lifting, play a game and then go home and do it all over again."
I didn't have the opportunity to see Brian play as he was day-to-day having been hit on the fingers in a bunt attempt. When he came back the day after I left, he picked up right where he left off, hitting .296 in the final seven games of the season. And that fits right in with how I see him going forward. Quiet, steady, dependable. Never too high. Never too low. And thankful that he was given an opportunity to show it.