Blair, Wellman awaiting MLB Draft
HUNTINGTON -- In the next three days, the lives of a pair of Tri-State athletes could change forever.
The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft gets underway Thursday at 7 p.m. with the first and second rounds from Studio 42 in Seacaucus, N.J.
Among the thousands of prospects being looked at by Major League Baseball teams, two of the higher prospects in the nation are Marshall University pitcher Aaron Blair and Spring Valley High School pitcher Elijah Wellman.
Blair was Marshall's ace pitcher this season and possesses the right size and skill set to make it into the first round. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he also has a strong change-up to go with a pair of breaking pitches that keep the opposition at bay.
In 2013, he finished 5-5 with a 2.85 earned run average, 84 strikeouts and 36 walks in 82 innings of work. He started the season 5-1 before the Thundering Herd offense struggled to produce run support. In Blair's final five starts, Marshall's offense produced just six total runs as he went 0-4 over the span.
Blair, an All-Conference USA first-team selection, is expected to go in the late first round or early second round Thursday, but that could possibly change after a report by BaseballAmerica.com earlier this week.
Blair was named by Baseball America as one of two top prospects who tested positive for Adderall, a pill prescribed generally to those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The drug is a stimulant and its general use is to promote focus and confidence.
The other prospect was Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray, who had been projected as the top overall pick for the draft.
By Major League Baseball standards, the drug is a banned substance punishable by suspension without a prescription.
However, because Blair and Gray are not currently professional athletes, they would not be subject to Major League Baseball penalties.
Based on that fact, Baseball America cited conversations with scouts and agents who said the players' draft status is unlikely to change despite the positive test.
While Blair finished up his junior season with the Herd, there is another local talent in the high school ranks who could also hear his name called this week. Wellman has been projected as the state's top baseball prospect over the last year and is likely to generate interest from teams because of his size and ability on the mound.
Wellman possesses a fastball that hits anywhere from 88-92 mph on the gun and also possesses an effective curveball, slider and changeup.
One of Wellman's top assets is his durability and his arm's longevity. During the 2012 season, he had a 10-inning no-hitter going against West Virginia powerhouse Nitro -- a game in which he struck out 21 batters.
When not pitching, he split time at third base and then at first base.
While Wellman is projected as a potential top-10 round prospect, he also has a full scholarship to play football at West Virginia University, which could deter some teams from pursuing him.
Wellman was the Huff Award winner in West Virginia, given to the state's top defensive football player. He signed with West Virginia in February and is expected to play fullback for the Mountaineers.
Marshall center fielder Isaac Ballou is also a player who will likely hear his name called at some point Friday or Saturday.
Ballou is the Herd's speedster who batted .328 out of the leadoff spot with 18 runs batted in, 17 doubles and two triples. He also walked 37 times and led Marshall with 13 stolen bases.