Aaron Blair could become the highest Major League Baseball draft pick to ever come from Marshall University. Scouts have predicted Blair could be taken in the first round of this year’s draft.
“I don’t think hell have to wait till the second round,” predicts Nathan Rhode with Baseball America. “There’s the supplemental round in between and I don’t think he falls any further than that.”
The buzz surrounding Blair cranked up last summer when he dominated the best collegiate hitters in the country in the Cape Cod League. Blair went 6-0 and led the league with a 1.17 ERA and struck out 60 batters in 51.1 innings with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
“You’re talking about brining in the top college players from around the country in one league. Of course it’s going to help your draft status,” says Rhode. “He’s durable with a heavy fastball and some good secondary stuff so I think he’ll be right there in the first 50 or so picks. “
The Houston Astros drafted Blair in the 21st round of the 2010 draft but a lot has changed since then. The Las Vegas native has spent the last four years honing his skills on the mound and has developed physically into a top 50 Major League prospect.
“He has good velocity working in the low 90’s or a little faster. He definitely passes the eye test, standing out there on the mound with an imposing presence. “
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Blair has the size and strength to be a big league starter. Rhode believes his physical build will help him hold up on the mound and avoid having to make a move to the bullpen because of durability issues.
Rhode believes the news of Blair’s positive test for the banned stimulant Adderall hasn’t scared away any scouts.
“Things like this have happened when they’ve been doing these pre-draft drug tests and it just so happened that this one got out there. Teams really do feel this was a one-time incident and a poor decision,” believes Rhode.
Isaac Ballou has something to prove
After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 36th round in 2011, Isaac Ballou was passed over in 2012. He came into his senior season at Marshall with a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove that professional scouts made a mistake last year.
Ballou was a first-team All-Conference USA selection this season, hitting .328 with a .438 on-base percentage.
“You’re looking at a guy that has a pretty solid track record. He doesn’t have real loud tools so we’re talking about a late round pick or a senior sign,” scouts Rhode.
Ballou will likely get a chance to play pro ball and there are plenty of stories of players who just needed a chance to showcase their talents.