Thursday afternoon notes: Blanton, Paxton, Webb

Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball

Joe Blanton; Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Several important notes to pass along on what has turned out to be a busy Thursday afternoon for Kentucky baseball:

  • University of Kentucky and Franklin-Simpson High School alum Joe Blanton will start the season on the disabled list for the Philadelphia Phillies. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports Blanton will miss three to six weeks with a strained oblique.
  • Former UK pitcher James Paxton has signed with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association. The team’s season starts in May, so Paxton will have about three weeks to impress scouts before the June draft.
  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports UK alum and Ashland native Brandon Webb met with D’Backs team doctors today for an examination of his surgically repaired right-shoulder. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com later tweeted Webb received good news and a May return is “highly likely.”
  • Minor League transactions of note from Baseball America: The Astros have released Western Kentucky University alum Ben Paxton, and the Padres have released UK alum Andrew Albers. Paxton signed with the Astros after excelling in indy ball in 2009 but never pitched in a Minor League game, and Albers missed all of 2009 with an arm injury.

Bats manager on Chapman; All-American news releases

College Baseball, Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball
More chatter about the Reds new star pitcher appearing in Louisville and Austin Kearns chances with the Indians, plus some college news releases and a note from an alert reader for your Tuesday morning:
  • Louisville Bats manager Rick Sweet tells Michael Grant of the Courier Journal there is a 90-percent plus chance Aroldis Chapman will pitch in Louisville this season.
  • Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com likes Lexington-native Austin Kearns‘ chances of making the Indians’ 25-man roster and thinks a starting spot in left field isn’t out of the question.
  • University of Kentucky athletics has a news release about Chris Bisson being named a third-team Ping! All-American.
  • Eastern Kentucky University sports has a news release about Jayson Langfels being named a third-team Ping! All-American.
  • As an alert reader pointed out on a previous post, the Astros signed former Western Kentucky University pitcher Ben Paxton in November. Here’s a staff report from the Charleston Gazette reporting the signing. Paxton might end up with the Lexington Legends to start 2010.

WKU alum named top Indy league prospect

Minor League Baseball
Ben Paxton; Photo Evansville Otters

Ben Paxton; Photo Evansville Otters

Former WKU right-handed pitcher Ben Paxton helped the Hilltoppers reach a NCAA regional appearance last spring, but his performance wasn’t enough to warrant an affiliated contract. Paxton caught on with Evansville of the independent Frontier League and dominated. He boasted a 0.23 ERA entering the last game of the season, but after allowing four runs his ERA “ballooned” to 1.12. Baseball America released its top ten prospect list in independent baseball Friday, and Paxton checked in at number four on the list.

BA writes: Paxton adopted a higher low three-quarters delivery at Evansville. The new release point allowed him to add some velocity (he touched some 92s) and helped give his slider some newfound bite that made him more effective against lefties. Paxton found that his stuff actually plays better in pro ball. His 88-89 mph fastball has a natural boring action that can break wooden bats on pitches that were jam-job singles against metal.

Here’s another nice profile of Paxton from the Evansville Courier & Press from August.