Ex-Pelican Blackburn’s MLB debut with hometown team

pel-blackburnFormer Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitcher Paul Blackburn took the long route to make his Major League debut with his hometown team on Saturday, going six strong innings for the Oakland A’s in a 4-3 loss to the visiting Atlanta Braves.

Blackburn, who grew up watching the A’s play as a native of nearby Antioch, CA, pitched six innings and allowed only three earned runs in earning the no decision. The crowd was filled with family and friends who watched the hometown kid command the mound at the Oakland Coliseum.

“That was like a ‘wow’ moment,” Blackburn said after the game. “It was awesome. I can’t even put it into words. One of the best days of my life. Not really sure it’s hit me yet, but it was a lot of fun.”

Blackburn was a supplemental first-round pick, 56th overall, by the Chicago Cubs in 2012 out of Heritage High School in Brentwood Calif. The right-hander starred for Myrtle Beach in their 2015 championship campaign, going 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 starts. Over 89.2 innings for the Birds, he ceded 89 hits, walked 22 and struck out 63.

Ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the Oakland organization by MLB.com, Blackburn began the 2016 campaign with Double-A Tennessee, posting a 6-4 record and 3.17 ERA in 18 starts for the Smokies. The Cubs traded Blackburn along with first baseman Dan Vogelbach to the Seattle Mariners on July 20, 2016 in exchange for pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries.

Blackburn made eight appearances, seven of those starts, for Jackson, Seattle’s Double-A affiliate, compiling a 3-1 record and 3.54 ERA. However, he was shipped to Oakland over the offseason in a deal that brought infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia to the Mariners.

At the time of his promotion to Oakland, Blackburn had registered a 5-6 record and 3.05 ERA for Triple-A Nashville, surrendering just 69 hits in 79.2 innings in 15 games, including 14 starts. He whiffed 56 against 26 walks. Blackburn’s 3.05 ERA currently is second in the Pacific Coast League, with his 1.19 WHIP and .231 batting average against each placing fourth.

The last nine days have seen former Pelicans Nick Williams (June 30, Phillies), Victor Caratini (June 28, Cubs) and Mark Zagunis (June 22, Cubs) have also make their Major League debuts. Myrtle Beach alumni Drew Robinson (Texas), Chris Bostick (Pittsburgh), Chad Bell (Detroit), Ian Happ (Cubs) and Lewis Brinson (Milwaukee) have also made their debuted in The Show this season.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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