Blanco with the Chunichi Dragons
|Orix Buffaloes – No. 42|
November 10, 1980 |
San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic
|NPB: April 3, 2009, for the Chunichi Dragons|
|MLB: April 4, 2005, for the Washington Nationals|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||361|
|Career highlights and awards|
Tony Enrique Blanco (born November 10, 1980) is a Dominican professional baseball player. He is mainly a first baseman, third baseman and outfielder. Blanco plays for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He has also played in Major League Baseball for the Washington Nationals and the Chunichi Dragons, Yokohama DeNA BayStars of NPB.
Blanco began his career in the Boston Red Sox farm system as a third basemen. In 2002, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds as a player to be named later, completing an earlier trade that sent Todd Walker to Boston. As a top prospect in the Reds organization in 2003, Blanco made a name for himself while playing for the Potomac Cannons of the Carolina League. Blanco was picked up by the Nationals as a Rule 5 Draft choice in 2005 and started the year playing for the Potomac Nationals. Blanco was invited to spring training for the big league club and quickly made it to the roster early in 2005, playing in 56 games. During 2005, his rookie season, he hit .177 with one home run and seven RBI.
In 2008, Blanco played for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers in the Colorado Rockies organization batting .323 with 23 home runs and 88 RBI. After the 2008 season, Blanco played in the Dominican Winter League for the Estrellas Orientales. He was then acquired by the Chunichi Dragons, who released their cleanup hitter Tyrone Woods due to his high wage, shortly after that.
His first year in NPB was very successful, and he became known renown for his incredible power. Examples of his power include a grounded home run in Nagoya Dome(first in dome history), hitting the light unit above the advertisement board in Tokyo Dome, as well as hitting the top-level stand in the Nagoya and Osaka Domes. He finished his first season with an impressive 39 HR and 110 RBI, both leading in Central League, along with a .275 batting average. Other than the HR and RBI award, he was also rewarded as Central League Performance Award in Interleague game (11 HR and 24 RBI) and won the Home Run Derby before the All-star game (which he was also playing as Central League first baseman).