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Arizona selects Blair

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall pitcher Aaron Blair was chosen No. 36 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday evening.

Blair was chosen in the Competitive Balance Round A, which is a supplemental round that is an extension of the first-round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

"It's a great opportunity and he deserves it because he works hard," Marshall baseball coach Jeff Waggoner said. "In that round, you're a first-round supplemental. That's big for him and for our program. He has the ability and all the coaches are excited for him. We look forward to following him in his pro career."

With the selection, Blair becomes the highest-drafted player ever in Marshall baseball history. The previous leader in that category was

Arizona was one of a handful of teams to get in contact with Waggoner over the last few months concerning Blair. Others who were heavily interested included Baltimore and Kansas City, along with several others that had interest in the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander.

Waggoner said it was likely a workout held by the Diamondbacks that put Blair to the forefront of their board.

"They had a workout and he had a chance to go there and meet with a lot of their upper-level guys," Waggoner said. "We knew that was one of the teams that had one of the picks he might go in."

For Blair, he continues a growing trend of the Diamondbacks coming to the Tri-State area to crop their top-level talent.

In addition to Blair's selection on Thursday, Arizona tabbed Nitro pitcher J.R. Bradley in the second round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft and former Ashland pitcher Brandon Webb in the eighth round of the 2000 MLB Draft.

Waggoner credited Blair's work ethic and dedication to his goals for his selection on Thursday night.

The Thundering Herd baseball coach said there was lots of promise out of high school, but the time put in took Blair from a good prospect to a top-tier prospect.

"He was drafted out of high school (21st round by Houston) because he was at 88 to 91 with a fastball and he had an off-speed," Waggoner said. "He's refined his game though. He's gotten stronger in the weight room and now he's mid-to-upper 90s. His change-up was average out of high school and now it's a big-time pitch.

"It's a lot of credit to him. He's a guy that wanted it and found a way to get it done. Now, he has a great opportunity ahead."

Blair, an All-Conference USA first-team selection, 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 was in the news earlier this week when he tested positive for Adderall at a pre-draft screening. Adderall is a banned substance by Major League baseball, but Blair and Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray, the third selection overall, were not subject to MLB penalties because they were not yet in the professional ranks.

Baseball America cited scouts and other sources from the league and said Blair's draft status would not be affected.

That proved to be true as Blair was selected 36th overall after being slotted 41st overall by Baseball America on its latest top 100 list.

The first two rounds of the MLB First-Year Player Draft took place on Thursday evening. The draft continues with rounds three through 10 on Friday and 11 through 40 on Saturday.