June 4, 2002

University of Kentucky junior pitcher Joseph Blanton can sit back, smile and relax. His waiting is over. The Oakland Athletics selected the hard-throwing right hander with the 24th pick in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft Tuesday afternoon to end months of specualtion where the 21-year-old hurler will throw his next 95-mph fastball.

“It’s a real honor to not only be drafted but that a club thinks enough of you to make you its first round selection,’ Blanton said. “I’m looking very forward to playing and competing in the A’s organization – the waiting is over and now it’s time to get out there and pitch.”

The Brownsville, Ky., native led the UK pitching staff in starts (14), complete games (3), innings pitched (100.0) and strikeouts (133). His 133 strikeouts this season exceeded Brandon Webb’s (1998-2000) previous single-season high of 123 set in 2000, while his 231 career strikeouts rank fourth on the all-time list, surpassing Jay Ray’s 230 set from 1982-85. He also was awarded national player of the week honors by Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association when he outduelled Ball State’s Bryan Bullington, the first pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a 3-2 winning decision on March 8.

“It’s very exciting for Joseph, the coaches and everyone involved in the Kentucky baseball family,” Coach Keith Madison said. “To coach a young man who was not drafted out of high school and watch him work hard to achieve this goal is an honor. It’s a true testament for all of his hard work and dedication he has given to our ball club. Our pitching coach, Greg Goff, also should be commended for working with Joseph on a daily basis and helping him develop into one of the finest pitchers in the country.”

Blanton follows Rob Murphy (Cincinnati, 1981) and Chad Green (Milwaukee, 1996) as the third first-round selection from UK since 1979.

“Anyone who competes in the sport of baseball dreams of playing in the major leagues and I’ve taken another step in achieving that dream today,” Blanton said. “Oakland has an outstanding organization and I especially like their ability to develop young pitchers. I’m excited and ready to begin my professional career.”

Blanton's Career StatisticsYearClassERAW-LG-GSSVIPHRERBBSO2000Fr.5.545-019-1250.156423127442001So.5.523-522-6258.264473637542002Jr.4.595-714-140100.098545137133Career5.0813-1255-214209.0218143118101     231

– UK –

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