Prep Baseball Report

Blanchard Ready For The Challenges Ahead At UMass

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Blanchard Ready For The Challenges Ahead At UMass

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JJ Blanchard RHP / 1B / Framingham, MA / 2024

FRAMINGHAM, Ma. - The aspiration for JJ Blanchard was to be like his father. That mission has been accomplished when it comes to college baseball.

“I always wanted to play Division I,” the Framingham High School senior related. “That’s been the goal since I was little. My dad played at Northeastern and was a pitcher as well. I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

A commitment to Massachusetts-Amherst has the 36th-rated 2024 right-handed pitcher in the state of Massachusetts ready to go do what his father did, compete at the D-I level.

“He was my coach until I was 13,” Blanchard said. “He’s helped me with my command, being patient and dominating the strike zone. Just the basics.”

Now 17, Blanchard intrigued UMass in late summer and a connection developed.

“I was in Georgia and pitched a shutout and they started to show a lot of interest,” Blanchard explained. “I continued to pitch well after that and they wanted me to tour their place. They had seen me previously at camps there.

“I did a tour and I loved the place,” the 238th-ranked senior in New England continued. “It’s somewhere I can fit in. They offered and I waited two days and accepted.”

Hofstra, Monmouth and Bryant were others that had shown interest but UMass-Amherst was the only offer.

“It was a very stressful process, the most stressful thing ever in my life,” admitted Blanchard, who did a few PBR events getting interest from URI, but for the most part there was a lot of uncertainty until UMass entered the picture. “I didn’t have much interest going into the summer. My high school season wasn’t great. I had injuries and played hurt at the beginning of the season so it took awhile to ramp up. I had a good summer but didn’t think anything was going to come from it. I was getting ready to play fall ball, but it all worked out in the end.”

The 73rd-rated 2024 RHP in New England is thrilled with what UMass has to offer.

“It’s an in-state school and I’ll be staying close to home, it’s only an hour-and-a-half drive,” Blanchard pointed out. “I love the coaches and love the area. I’ve heard great things about it and feel I can fit in. I like how baseball is doing. I know some of the guys on the team and think they can turn it around.”

The 6-4 180-pounder made an impression on UMass as well.

“They like my projectability,” Blanchard noted. “I’m tall, lanky and can throw hard. Once I put on weight my projectability is through the roof.”

A lot of strides have been made already.

“My mechanics were very shaky freshman and sophomore years,” Blanchard related. “I quit hockey my sophomore year. I loved it, so that was tough. I got serious in the gym and the coaches at Nokona helped with my mechanics and putting on weight. Without Nokona I wouldn’t be a Division I player. All the props in the world to them.”

A commitment, admittedly, brings plenty of relief to the Framingham senior.

“All the stress is off my shoulders,” Blanchard said. “My D-I dream has been reached. I didn’t want to settle and didn’t want to reclass. It’s a great feeling, especially staying in Massachusetts.”

The hope is to help the Atlantic 10 Conference program out in any way possible.

“I’m a reliable guy who can be a starter or reliever,” Blanchard said. “I’ve always been reliable and can go deep into games. I think I’ll bring a lot to the team and contribute to a lot of wins.”

At the present time undecided on a major, Blanchard has high expectations when it comes to playing baseball at the next level.

“I’m looking forward to new teammates, the coaching and more challenges,” Blanchard concluded. “I’ve never been one to back down. When you hear about Division I baseball you hear how tough and challenging it is, but I’m ready for it.”

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