Sorry to See Clayton Blackburn Go
In the recent roster machinations that put Buster Posey on the 7-Day Concussion list and prompted a brief call-up of Tim Federowicz, the Giants elected to drop Clayton Blackburn from the 40-man roster. That placed Blackburn on waivers, and the Giants were forced to trade him to the Rangers for young middle infielder Frandy De La Rosa.
I first became aware of Blackburn when he had a huge year in 2012 at Class A Augusta at the age of 19. He was only a 16th round draft pick, so I was hoping he’d turn out to be a steal.
He continued to play well in the minors at each level, culminating in a 2015 season at AAA Sacramento in which he went 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA, good enough to lead the Pacific Coast League that season among pitchers who threw at least 115 innings (Blackburn threw 123 IP). His strikeout total (99) was only tenth best, but his strikeout to walk ratio was better than 3/1, and he was only 22 that season.
Blackburn deserved a September call-up that year, but didn’t get one. The Giants may have been right, however, because Blackburn regressed badly in 2016. Back at AAA Sacramento, Blackburn went 7-10 with a 5.02 ERA. His numbers were almost exactly the same as the year before, except that he allowed three times as many home runs. That’ll sure rowdy up the old ERA.
Blackburn was dreadful in his first AAA start this year, allowing five earned runs in three innings pitched. But it was just one start before the trade. Blackburn’s still only 24 this season, and he’s maybe only a few adjustments from being a major league caliber pitcher.
The guy the Giants got, De La Rosa, also appears to have talent. He had a solid season in the Class A Sally League last year at the age of twenty, most notable for a .330 on-base percentage, which is certainly acceptable for a middle infielder.
De La Rosa got off to a horrible start to 2017 at Down East (Kinston) in the Class A+ Carolina League (3 for 28, but two doubles and five walks), and the Giants have sent him back to their Sally League franchise in Augusta. It’s entirely possible the Rangers gave up on him too soon also, although I would like my chances with Blackburn better, since he’s much closer to the major leagues.
Let’s hope they both ultimately make it to the Show.