Atypical Blair expected to be early pick
Right-hander undecided between college and pro ball
When Kyle Blair was 13 years old, he set out to conquer the world.While most kids his age were sitting in class, Blair was running from a wild fire on Mount Kilimanjaro, taking a safari in Africa, swimming in the Galapagos Islands and building a home in Honduras for the underprivileged. Blair took eighth grade off to travel the world. Not your typical education, but Blair is not your typical pitcher.
The right-hander from Monte Sereno, Calif., is one of the top pitching prospects in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and is rumored to go late in the first round. Blair is a two-time All-American pitcher and was ranked No. 15 among PG National Top 85 pitchers. The high school senior also has three no-hitters and a perfect game to his name.Blair is expected to go in the early rounds, but it's still unsure whether he will go at all. Blair is wrestling with the age old question of college or the pros. He signed a letter of intent to the University of San Diego, a Division I school with an impressive baseball program, but said he will sit down with his family to discuss it as July 7 approaches. Blair would not specify which teams have approached him, but it is safe to say every team on the West Coast has expressed interest in Blair. "It would be nice just to get there. I could care less where it is. I just want to get there and prove myself," Blair said. Blair will undoubtedly get there, and when he does, he'll bring a 91-92 mph fastball, a newly emerging changeup and his signature pitch -- a sharp breaking curve. When Blair pitched at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland during an exhibition game earlier this year, the radar had him clocked at 94 mph. Blair has the fluid delivery of Chris Carpenter and the demeanor of Scott Erickson, it has been described. It's his demeanor, so calm and steady a heart surgeon would be jealous, that has earned his high school coach Brad Sanfilippo's admiration. It was that same composure that helped Los Gatos High School win the baseball championship last year for the first time in school history. "From a mental standpoint, that's where he's been so far ahead of everyone else. No situation ever rattles him," Sanfilippo said. "I've never seen fear in him." Blair has been pretty far ahead of everyone else from a physical standpoint, too. Blair's 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame probably helped scouts pick him out of a lineup in his junior year. His powerful chest and arms look like they belong more on a college wrestler than a high school pitcher. Water polo helped Blair build a powerful upper body that has no doubt helped his pitching tremendously. Blair's size, composure and sheer skill on the mound are all eye catching for big league scouts.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"You have these little kid fantasies when you think 'I'm going to be like Roger Clemens,' but I never really thought it would happen. Not until last year," Blair said.Last year, his junior year, was when the scouts started showing up. At first, Blair wondered why scouts were coming to see him, but more kept showing up. "Sometimes it's like being the manager of a Beatle. Every time Kyle is pitching you show up to the field and there's a big following," Sanfilippo said. Blair's pitching has turned into a town event, and Blair himself is a bit of a town hero, although he probably doesn't think so. People around town call coach Sanfilippo wanting to know if Blair is pitching that day. The folks around Blair's high school have had four years to grow attached to their future big leaguer. Blair started on varsity as a freshman, and even then Sanfilippo said Blair possessed the same composure. Sure he got rocked a few times, but Blair turned those failures into motivation. Failure just makes Blair strive for perfection even more. He holds himself to almost impossible standards, Sanfilippo said, and that's what everyone has come to expect from him. But Blair's exceptional pitching is not what will be missed most. "He threw a perfect game, a few no-hitters, he dominates teams and from a baseball standpoint that's fun to be around, but mostly Kyle is just a fun person to be around," Sanfilippo said. Blair might fall out of the first round on June 7th, but that's not really the point. "It's like a dream come true," Blair said. "I just see myself achieving a dream."
Becky Regan is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.