On Saturday, the Oakland Athletics traded veteran infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia to the Seattle Mariners, receiving minor league pitching prospect Paul Blackburn in exchange. Here’s a quick take on the newest member of the Oakland farm system.
Paul Blackburn, RHP: Paul Blackburn was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the compensation round of the 2012 draft, from high school in Brentwood, California. He was traded to the Mariners this past July as part of the trade package for left-hander Mike Montgomery.
On the season he made 25 starts for Double-A Tennessee in the Cubs system and Double-A Jackson in the Mariners organization, posting a 3.27 ERA in 143 innings with a 99/35 K/BB ratio and 138 hits allowed.
Blackburn is a 6-1, 195 pound right-handed hitter and thrower born December 4, 1993. He features an 89-93 MPH fastball, a very good curveball, and an adequate change-up. He generally throws strikes and is a notable ground ball pitcher, but his stuff is not overpowering and his command must remain fine for him to succeed.
He projects as a number four or five starter, reliant on command and the defense behind him, but his performance has been consistent and steady since he was drafted and he’s shown the ability to make adjustments. Blackburn is expected to open 2017 at the Triple-A level with a chance to see the majors later in the year.
This video from Cubs Prospect Watch is a couple of years old but gives the general idea of how Blackburn approaches his task.