Blackburn was drafted Monday night by the Chicago Cubs in the first compensation round. He was the 56th player selected overall and the first-ever Heritage baseball player to be taken in the Major League Baseball Draft.
“It was pretty exciting,” Blackburn said. “The Cubs haven’t won in a long time, so if I decide to sign, then hopefully I can bring that to them.”
This season, Blackburn earned his second consecutive league MVP award. He went 10-3 with a 0.93 earned run average, striking out 100 and walking 18. Scouts like Blackburn’s fastball, which clocks in at about 92 miles per hour, and his poise.
“Paul possesses the attributes we look for in a HS right-handed pitcher in that he shows present command of three pitches with an efficient delivery and clean mechanics,” Jason McLeod, Cubs vice president of Scouting and Player Development, wrote in an e-mail. “As with all HS pitchers, there will be a development path ahead of him but we are confident that his work ethic and makeup will allow him to get the most of his abilities.”
As Blackburn has a full-ride scholarship from Arizona State on the table, he has a big decision to make. The pitcher said he’s talking it over with his parents and isn’t sure which way he’s leaning.
He knew there was a chance he could go on the first day of the draft, but the second round more likely. He held a small viewing party at his house and celebrated with family and friends.
“When they called his name, it was just surreal,” said Patriots manager Kevin Brannan, who watched the draft with other Heritage coaches. “As long as he continues to physically get bigger and stronger, I really feel that he’s one of those kids that has the moxie or the guts to go through this.”
Blackburn is the highest BVAL draftee since Liberty pitcher Chris Gruler was taken third overall by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002.
The Patriot was not the only local to hear his name called. In the 20th round of the draft, Antioch alumnus Nick Pasquale was selected by the Cleveland Indians. Pasquale went 12-3 this season for the Diablo Valley College Vikings with a 1.88 ERA. Pasquale, who signed a letter of intent in November to attend North Carolina State, must also decide between college and the pros.
“(I’m) excited and overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions,” Pasquale told The Press on Twitter. “Thankful for the opportunity.”
As a Panther, Pasquale earned first-team all-league honors in 2009, his senior year. He struck out 68 batsmen that season.
Click here to watch the MLB.com draft report on Blackburn.