DETROIT (BVM) – Werner Blakely has spent the past four years as a baseball player at Detroit Edison Public School Academy. Blakely has played the sport since he was little, and has had terriﬁc youth and high school careers. Although he had his ﬁnal prep season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortstop has an MLB future in sight after being selected 111th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2020 MLB Draft last month.
Despite growing up in a predominantly football family, Blakely and his brother were introduced to baseball by their grandfather, who played and loved the sport. It didn’t take long to realize that the 18-year-old had exceptional talent within the game.
As a shortstop, the Detroit Edison grad has always idolized and looked up to one of the best to ever play the position in Derek Jeter. He also models parts of his game after current Padres shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr.
Blakely had an impressive youth baseball career that really took off at age 12. The shortstop played in a tournament in Ohio, and was selected to play USA Baseball in North Carolina after being named one of the top players in the tournament. His career continued to progress, playing with top teams in Michigan and Ohio from age 13-15. At 16, Blakely played for the Milwaukee Brewers’ scout team in Alabama, and last year played with a team in Mississippi.
Blakely has played at many other locations around the country, but also maintained an exceptional high school career at Detroit Edison. Blakely recorded 163 hits, 26 doubles, 19 triples, 12 home runs, and 103 RBIs over his three years playing for the Pioneers. He has been not only happy with his development over the years, but also the team’s progress, as Blakely believes the Pioneers had a championship caliber team in the making.
“My team grew so much and we bought into what our coach was saying. Last year we fell short in regionals but if we would’ve played this year, we could have deﬁnitely won a state championship with the type of team we had,” Blakely said.
Of course, because of the cancelation of spring sports in Michigan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blakely’s senior baseball season at Detroit Edison never took place. Like most seniors across the country, the shortstop was devastated.
“It deﬁnitely was heartbreaking. I worked really hard this offseason and was really excited to be with my teammates and try to compete for the state championship. But, it’s out of our control and there is nothing we can do about it,” the shortstop said.
Blakely keeps in touch with his teammates every day, and the team aspect of baseball is actually one of the things he has come to love most about the game.
“What I love most about baseball is the team camaraderie. I just like helping people and I think baseball is a big outlet for that,” the 18-year-old said.
Blakely developed into a true leader for his team, and a large part of that was due to the tutelage of coach Mark Brown, who has been coaching Blakely since his youth.
“If it wasn’t for coach Brown, I really don’t know where I would be with baseball. He means a lot to me and has helped me grow and mature and has just helped me become a better young man,” Blakely said.
The former Pioneer continues to stay ready and in baseball shape during the pandemic by running and working out every day, as well as hitting and ﬁelding ground balls whenever he can.
It’s a tough way to see a high school career end, but Blakely has plenty of good memories during his four years, beyond just playing at Detroit Edison. Last summer, the baseball star was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Being the ﬁrst player from Detroit and just second from the state of Michigan to be selected to the game was quite an honor for the shortstop.
“I was very excited when I found out I had made the team. It was humbling, but also made me want to work harder as well. It was great to meet some of the other top players in the country and play at Wrigley Field,” Blakely said.
Prior to that experience in Jan. 2019, Blakely was one of 80 players around the country invited to the USA Baseball MLB Joint Initiative at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. There, he was coached by greats like Chipper Jones, Barry Larkin, and his idol, Derek Jeter – leading to another amazing experience for the 18-year-old.
“That was great and it was deﬁnitely a blessing to get called to there. It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I deﬁnitely enjoyed it. The IMG campus was amazing,” Blakely said.
As if being able to participate and work out down there wasn’t enough, Blakely also got to have a good discussion with the Kalamazoo native, Jeter, who already knew who the high schooler was.
“When he came up to me he said, ‘I have heard of you and people are making comparisons between us.’ He asked me how tall I was and how much I weighed so it was kind of cool he made that comparison. It was just cool to connect with the guy and for him to know who I am,” Blakely said.
Blakely originally planned to play college baseball at Auburn next season and committed to the Tigers during his junior year. The star shortstop had several offers from many big name schools, but felt like Auburn would be the best ﬁt for him.
“I had a lot of college offers so at that point it just came down to what was the best ﬁt. The coaching staff at Auburn is one of the best in the country,” he said.
However, plans changed for Blakely last month when he was selected with the 111th pick in the 2020 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angeles. The shortstop had already met with personnel from over 25 teams in the league during high school, and it was imminent that he would be selected into the pros sooner than later.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 12, 2020
After being drafted, Blakely decided he will jump straight from high school to the MLB, signing a deal with the Angels worth $900,000. Many often questioned if Blakely would go right into the big leagues if selected in the right spot, and now we know the talented shortstop’s answer.
As he heads to Los Angeles, Blakely carries a lot of potential. The top high school prospect in the state of Michigan sees himself as a “do-everything” type player that excels at all facets of the game. He knows the future is bright and still thinks he can get even better.
“I feel like my ceiling is really high. I deﬁnitely have a lot of upside and feel like I’m still raw. I think it’ll be very interesting to see the type of player that I am at 21, 22, 23 if I am fortunate enough to get to the big leagues,” Blakely said.
The 18-year-old has had an impressive youth and high school baseball career, participating in games and with teams most players his age couldn’t dream of. The future is bright for Blakely as he joins the Los Angeles Angels, and his past and future success in the game could end up making for a special career in the MLB.