WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | Sports

Pair of ex-Cats ready for baseball postseason

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky baseball stars Joe Blanton and Collin Cowgill have been named to the MLB Playoff rosters for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was announced.

Blanton and Cowgill are the two Wildcats who will suit up in the MLB Postseason, with Cowgill seeing time as the left-handed hitting specialist for the National League Western Division Champion Arizona Diamondbacks and Blanton as a right-hander for the National League Eastern Division Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The Diamondbacks open the playoffs on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET against the Milwaukee Brewers on TBS, while the Phillies will open their playoff charge on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on TBS.

A native of Lexington, Ky., and the 2004 Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball selection out of Henry Clay High School, Cowgill has seen time primarily as a right-handed bat against left-handed pitching since his MLB debut on July 26. A 5-foot-9, 185-pound outfielder, Cowgill has the ability to play all three outfield positions and was voted by Triple-A Pacific Coast League managers as the best defensive outfielder, the best outfield arm and the most exciting player in the circuit before his call-up. Through his first 36 career MLB games, Cowgill has hit .239 (22-for-92) with three doubles, one homer and nine RBI, stealing 4-of-6 bases for a Diamondbacks outfield that has standouts Justin Upton, Chris Young and Gerrado Parra in the outfield.

The 2011 PCL Rookie of the Year, Cowgill dominated the Triple-A Pacific Coast League through 98 games, batting .354 (140-for-395) with 24 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers and 70 RBI, stealing 30-of-33 bases. Cowgill posted a 51-63 walk-strikeout ratio, totaling a .430 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging mark. Cowgill was named the leading vote-getter in the Triple-A All-Star game earlier in July.

During his UK career, Cowgill helped the Wildcats win their first Southeastern Conference Championship as a sophomore in 2006, batting .298 (67-for-225) with 16 homers and 61 RBI. After missing 2007 due to an injury, Cowgill returned for an All-America campaign in 2008, joining fellow All-America selection Sawyer Carroll in the outfield. A first-team Academic All-America selection, Cowgill batted .361 in 2008 with 15 doubles, two triples and 19 home runs, adding 60 RBI, stealing 23-of-27 bases in 2008. Following the 2008 season, Cowgill earned first-team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and second-team honors from Rivals.com and Baseball America. During his three-year UK career, Cowgill batted .306 (171-for-558) in 165 games, totaling 166 runs, 35 doubles, 37 homers, 140 RBI and 32 stolen bases.

Blanton has appeared in 11 games with eight starts for the Phillies in 2011 while battling injuries. In his 11 outings, Blanton owns a 1-2 record and a 5.01 ERA in 41.1 innings, walking only nine with 35 strikeouts. In his MLB career, the Ashland, Ky., native has totaled a 73-62 record with a 4.32 ERA in 206 games and 198 starts.

A UK letterwinner from 2000-2002, Blanton pitched in 55 career games for UK and head coach Keith Madison. During his junior campaign, he posted a 5-7 record and a 4.59 ERA in 14 starts, fanning 133 in 100 innings. After the 2002 year, Blanton went in the first round to the Oakland Athletics, going 24th overall. In 2008, Blanton was traded from the Athletics to the Phillies, as Philadelphia bolstered its pitching staff for its postseason run. In his first taste of the postseason, Blanton excelled while helping the Phillies to the World Series Title, including belting his first career MLB homer in the World Series.


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