MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Blandino pitches well in Billings debut, Cruz released

Blandino (Billings Mustangs)

Former Bristol Central Matt Blandino had quite the change in scenery over the past week.

Blandino was assigned to the Billings Mustangs in Montana on Wednesday after starting the 2017 season in the Class A Midwest League with the Dayton Dragons. Montana is quite the difference from Ohio, but Blandino made the most of his Billings debut.
Blandino went six innings in a 15-4 win over the Missoula Osprey on Thursday. He gave up two runs on six hits, struck out five, and didn’t issue a walk. Blandino was efficient, tossing 55 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
Billings competes in the Pioneer League or rookie level baseball. While at Dayton, Blandino was 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in four games, two of which were starts. He struck out 11 and walked none in 14.1 innings of work.
One day after Blandino made his Billings debut, the Mustangs made a routine roster move that shows how difficult life in professional baseball can be.
Billings released second baseman Manny Cruz, a former standout at Wolcott and Wilby, on Friday. Cruz played in one game for Billings, on Tuesday, and he went 0-for-2 with a walk. No further information was available on the league website regarding Cruz’s release.
Cruz played for the Arizona League Reds, also a rookie level team, in 2016 and hit .272 in 33 games. Cruz was drafted in the 23rd round that same year by the parent club, the Cincinnati Reds.