Pelicans alumnus Blackburn to make first MLB start

Pitcher is fourth former Pelican to debut in majors in last nine days

Paul Blackburn will make his first Major League start Saturday for the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum. (Larry Kave/Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

By Scott Kornberg / Myrtle Beach Pelicans | July 1, 2017 1:24 PM ET

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (July 1, 2017) - Former Myrtle Beach Pelicans right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn has been promoted to the Oakland Athletics and will make his first-ever Major League start Saturday when the A's host the Atlanta Braves at 4:05 p.m. ET at the Oakland Coliseum. Blackburn will be the 164th former Pelican to play in the majors, including the ninth this season and the fourth over the last nine days.

A native of Antioch, Calif., Blackburn will be making his Major League debut about a 40-minute drive from where he grew up.

Blackburn was a supplemental first-round pick, 56th overall, by the Chicago Cubs in 2012 out of Heritage High School in Brentwood Calif. The right-hander starred for Myrtle Beach in their 2015 championship campaign, going 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 starts. Over 89.2 innings for the Birds, he ceded 89 hits, walked 22 and struck out 63.

Ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the Oakland organization by MLB.com, Blackburn began the 2016 campaign with Double-A Tennessee, posting a 6-4 record and 3.17 ERA in 18 starts for the Smokies. The Cubs traded Blackburn along with first baseman Dan Vogelbach to the Seattle Mariners on July 20, 2016 in exchange for pitchers Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries .

Blackburn made eight appearances, seven of those starts, for Jackson, Seattle's Double-A affiliate, compiling a 3-1 record and 3.54 ERA. However, he was shipped to Oakland over the offseason in a deal that brought infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia to the Mariners.

At the time of his promotion to Oakland, Blackburn had registered a 5-6 record and 3.05 ERA for Triple-A Nashville, surrendering just 69 hits in 79.2 innings in 15 games, including 14 starts. He whiffed 56 against 26 walks. Blackburn's 3.05 ERA currently is second in the Pacific Coast League, with his 1.19 WHIP and .231 batting average against each placing fourth.

The last nine days have seen former Pelicans Nick Williams (June 30, Phillies), Victor Caratini (June 28, Cubs) and Mark Zagunis (June 22, Cubs) have also make their Major League debuts. Myrtle Beach alumni Drew Robinson (Texas), Chris Bostick (Pittsburgh), Chad Bell (Detroit), Ian Happ (Cubs) and Lewis Brinson (Milwaukee) have also made their debuted in The Show this season.

The 2017 season is the 19th season for the Pelicans franchise and third as the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. For information on tickets to see the Pelicans in 2017, please call (843) 918-6000, e-mail info@myrtlebeachpelicans.com, or visit www.MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.

ABOUT THE PELICANS: The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and play their home games at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The park has ranked in the top eight in all of Minor League Baseball by Stadium Journey in each of the last six seasons. The same publication also placed the Pelicans in the Top 100 Stadium Experiences in all of sports in each of the last six years and the best in the Carolina League for six straight seasons as well. In May 2015, TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark won the 2015 TripAdvisor.com Certificate of Excellence award. The Pelicans are the two-time defending Mills Cup Champions, winning the title in 2015 and 2016 as well as 2000 and co-Mills Cup championship honors in the inaugural 1999 season. The Pelicans have made ten postseason appearances behind 12 half-season Southern Division championships, including the first half of the 2015 season and second half of 2016. For more information on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, please contact the Pelicans at (843) 918-6000 or emailing Info@MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.

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