[Moderated by Matt Jones]
Tonight has marked the first big splash a Wildcat has made in the Major Leagues in this young season. In Kentucky, Joe Blanton, is known as a 1999 graduate of Franklin-Simpson High School in Bowling Green who went on to play for UK from 2000-2002. At UK, he posted an unimpressive 13-12 record with a 5.11 ERA in three years in Lexington, but showed off his potential to MLB scouts in his junior year at UK by leading the SEC with 133 strikeouts in only 100 innings pitched. After posting such high strikeout totals in his junior year at UK, Blanton was selected in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft at #24 overall and signed a $1.4 million deal with the Oakland Athletics.
Blanton’s Major League career to this point has been defined by the 2008 season. In July of ’08, he was traded from Oakland to Philadelphia. In the second half of the ’08 regular season, Blanton went 4-0 in 13 starts for the Phillies, which earned him a spot in the Phillies’ post-season starting rotation and Phillies fans quickly embraced Blanton as “Kentucky Joe” Blanton. ”Kentucky Joe” was the starting pitcher and earned the win in Game 4 of the World Series over the Rays. He also hit a home run, becoming the first pitcher to hit a home run in a World Series game since 1974.
Since the World Series heroics of 2008, Blanton’s career has been dissapointing, posting an ERA of around 5. Last year, he only appeared in 11 games and only started in 8, due to injuries. His first appearance this year was a short bullpen stint, but tonight he has been absolutely fantastic in his first start of the season vs. the Miami Marlins.
Here is Blanton’s line through 7 innings in Philadelphia:
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