An annual right of summer commences on Thursday as Major League Baseball begins its 2013 draft. Two of Marshall’s standout performers figure to hear their names called over the three day event spanning 40 rounds.
Thundering Herd starting pitcher Aaron Blair could be Marshall’s highest ever draft selection*. In 13 starts this season the hard throwing right hander accumulated a 2.85 ERA over 82 innings pitched with 84 strikeouts and 36 walks. A Conference USA first team selection, opposing batters hit .198 against Blair in 2013.
Baseball America projects Blair as a late first or early second round selection. This comes despite reports that Blair tested positive for Adderal during per-draft testing, a banned stimulant. Two MLB scouts told Baseball America that Blair’s test results won’t affect his draft status.
One of C-USA’s toughest pitchers, Blair throws a fastball that reaches the mid-nineties and a quality changeup along with two other plus breaking pitches. As a first year draft eligible junior the Las Vegas native can return to Marshall for his senior season but, that is highly unlikely.
After his sophomore season Isaac Ballou was selected in the 36th round of the 2011 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ballou decided to forgo professional baseball and return to Marshall for his junior season. After not being selected in last year’s draft Ballou attacked his senior season with a vengeance. One of three outfielders selected to C-USA’s all-first team Ballou showed a keen eye at the plate, hitting for a .328 average and .438 on-base percentage. Marshall’s leadoff and most patient batter he also recorded more walks (37) than strikeouts (31).
Ballou leaves Marshall as the Herds all time leader in triples and walks. He also ranks second on the all time career stolen bases list with 64.
The draft starts on Thursday (7pm ET) with first round coverage provided by the MLB Network. Rounds three through 10 take place on Friday and the draft ends on Saturday with rounds 11-40.
* Gregory Allen Hill stands as Marshall’s highest ever MLB draft selection. Hill was picked by the Minnesota Twins 59th overall in round three of the 1984 draft. Hill spent two years with the Twins single A Midwest league affiliate before leaving baseball.