Madison, WI – February 5, 2009. Iowa junior catcher Tyson Blaser is set to call the signs for the Mallards pitching staff in 2009 after finishing last season with a .323 batting average, 10 doubles, and 14 RBIs for the Hawkeyes. Playing through an injured thumb, hamstring, and MCL throughout the year, Blaser managed to hit .389 in Big Ten Conference play that included a team fourth-best .442 on-base percentage. The versatile right-hander also hit in six different spots in the lineup and recorded seven multi-hit games. Blaser got it done in the classroom as well, being named a 2008 Academic All-Big Ten Honoree. Now that he’s finally 100 percent healthy, Tyson can’t wait to go head-to-head with other promising Northwoods League athletes. “It was tough not being able to play summer ball last year,” said Blaser. “When I take the field for the first time as a Mallard, all of the rehabilitation and hard work I put in to get there will definitely be at the forefront of my mind.”
Blaser definitely won’t be coming to the Mallards unsure of what to expect.
“I’ve lived with (current Mallard) Kyle Heim since I was a freshman and with him playing in Madison last summer, he’s already told me everything I need to know about the Northwoods League experience,” said Blaser.
“Even in talking to Iowa alumni who played in this league, they all had great things to say about the tradition and great fan support each team receives on a daily basis.”
Mallards Field Manager C.J. Thieleke believes this summer will determine exactly where Blaser stands as a potential professional player.
“Tyson really hasn’t had a lot of breaks go his way but ultimately his determination and willingness to put in the extra work to get back onto the field has put him in a position to have a good season and get noticed by scouts,” said Thieleke.
“We’ve gone back to signing three catchers in order to give ourselves more flexibility but then again, all three are great all-around athletes and will find plenty of playing time given that they’re able to hit on a consistent basis. If Tyson is hitting well he could also see playing time at first base or as the team’s DH.”
Which big leaguer does Tyson compare himself to?
“I’d say I’m a lot like catcher Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Neither of us is very overpowering, but we both like to put the ball in play and hit for average. I think we’re also very similar in the sense that we show up at the park each and every day willing to put in the dirty work to be successful.”