Interview conducted by Taylor Blake Ward, AngelsWin.com
Werner Blakely grew up in Detroit and was Michigan's top high school player in the 2020 draft class. Due to the coronavirus pandemic he did not get a chance to play his senior season, but the Angels still drafted him in the fifth round and gave him an above-slot bonus ($900,000) to pass up an Auburn commitment. Blakely has what scouts drool over with a long, lean, projectable frame with above average athleticism. He has a good eye and patient approach and has really improved his contact at the plate from his rookie season after the Angels tweaked his uppercut swing. Blakely should add some home run power as he packs more muscle onto his frame and with his athletic body and above average speed he should be able to continue be a threat on the bases as he continues to fill out. While he played shortstop in High School, the Angels want to see him continue to grow at the hot corner where he made strides defensively as the season progressed. He's got a great arm, range and quick actions on the infield.
Blakely across 55 games this season in Low-A slashed .295/.447/.470 with five home runs and 40 RBI in 2022. He also drew 45 walks in 235 plate appearances which is above average, as was his speed on the bases. The 20-year old stole 24 bases in 26 attempts this season. The Angels sent Blakley to the Arizona Fall League where he went on to slash .271/.397/.396 with no home runs and eight RBI across 13 games. He's also swiped three bases in four attempts.
Here's a couple highlights of his play in the AFL this past fall.
Blakely's play this past fall was good enough to be named to the Arizona Fall League All-Star Roster.
Taylor Blake Ward gives us his quick scouting report and update on Werner Blakely.
Check out our own Taylor Blake Ward's interview with Werner Blakely ahead of the Inland Empire 66er's playoff series this past September.
Here is the complete interview transcript for the deaf, hard of hearing and quotes.
AngelsWin.com: All right. Werner Blakely, Angels prospect. So, Werner, looking at the season as a whole, maybe not exactly what you wanted on the health perspective, but performance wise, how do you feel it went this year?
Werner Blakely: I felt really good. You know, I’m a very hard worker, and I’m going to continue to work hard. And this year was just like a little taste of what I believe I can do. I have so much more potential, and I’m just going to keep working and keep working hard; I’m trying to reach that potential but, you know, it hurts. You know, getting hurt, it’s the stuff you can’t control, so that you don’t want. But coming out with these guys and this coaching staff and every day I’m making sure I’m getting my hands useful; I’m making sure I know what I’m doing. And the big shots and the coaching staff are just getting me engaged, and I’m, obviously, stay focused. So, it was a good time.
AngelsWin.com: Kind of fluky injuries, too. I know the one was a hit by a pitch that, kind of, busted you up.
Werner Blakely: Yeah, I got hit by a pitch, and then running to first base—the bases are bigger now—so the bottom of my feet skimmed the top of the bag. So, just injuries you can’t really control. But, you know, just got to continue to, you know, play the game, and in the game it happens. So, you just got to be able to bounce back from that.
AngelsWin.com: What was the biggest developmental focus for you this year?
Werner Blakely: Probably just getting reps, man. Like, you know, coming from the city, be trade, not playing much baseball, the biggest thing for me was just getting reps. And, unfortunately, the health reasons prevented that. But I do believe, like, when I got in there, I was able to showcase, like, what I was able to do. And, you know, I still got so much more work to go.
AngelsWin.com: I want to come back to the Detroit thing, but defensively, do you feel that you have a home at third base?
Werner Blakely: Yeah. I, kind of, feel like I probably should be there. And, you know, I’m bought in at third, and I’m going to try to be something special there. So, I’m bought in.
AngelsWin.com: Now, being a part of this winning culture, a lot of you guys haven’t really had any postseason experience. And even though it’s limited this year with two sets of three games each, what do you think that having the winning culture here with the 66ers and the Angels organization, kind of, done for you as a player?
Werner Blakely: You know what? I think, since our new GM came in here, a lot of guys bought in, like me—including me—but we all bought in to a process, man. We come here every day, and we bust our butt. And we don’t like that old stigma of the Angels not being able to win. And Perry coming in and changing that culture, that winning culture, everybody wants it. Everybody wants to win it. And I’m enforcing it here in Inland and everywhere. So, we’re trying to win here, man, and we’re trying to turn the system around. So, we’re just excited to get after it.
AngelsWin.com: So, I want to know, how are you enforcing it?
Werner Blakely: Ah, I just make—nobody’s bs’ing; nobody’s going to be lagging; nobody’s going to be taking days off; everybody’s getting their work in. And even when I was injured, I was still making sure I’m running sprints; I’m making sure I’m getting everything in to, you know, when I come back, to be able to help my team. And now, I’m back, and now, I’m able to help my team. So, all that work that I did when I was hurt, now it’s time to pay it off.
AngelsWin.com: Looking at your swing from when you were in Detroit to, kind of, where it is now, not a ton of differences to the eye, to the appearance. But what do you think the biggest changes have been, kind of, overall, when you think about your swing?
Werner Blakely: Yeah. I just—I’m really way more body aware. Like, I’m still growing into my frame right now, but I know the positions I have to get my body into to pertain that to the ball, or to field a ground ball. And, honestly, like I said, just getting reps and getting consistent, and getting those reps and staying consistent as possible. So…
AngelsWin.com: I want to go back to Detroit. You and Cameron Maybin—now, I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it’s charity work in the inner city. Are you still doing that with Cameron?
Werner Blakely: I am. So, that was a part of Players Alliance. And we did a fund raiser in Detroit, and a lot of people came out—or not fundraiser, but a giveaway—and we gave out a lot of bats, gloves, computers, back-to-school programs. And I’m actually starting my own nonprofit back at home in Detroit. And I’m going to start a camp when I get back in the offseason to give back to Detroit. And a lot of those guys just don’t have the opportunity, you know, to get where I’m at, to get seen, because we’re from up north. But being able to, like, get up there and get those guys exposure, that’s what we need to do.
AngelsWin.com: You’re really proud of your city, yeah. But thanks, man.