Cardinals May Send Seth Blair to the AFL

The St. Louis Cardinals are considering sending the 46th overall pick in the 2010 draft, pitcher Seth Blair, to the 2010 Arizona Fall League.

During a Sunday appearance on KTRS radio, St. Louis Cardinals Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow said one of the organization's supplemental first round picks, Seth Blair, could be headed to the Arizona Fall League's Surprise Raptors if he does not pitch enough innings before the end of the regular season.

Though Blair is doing side work with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League, the 21-year-old right-hander has not appeared in game action since the end of the collegiate season with Arizona State University. This is the case despite the 46th overall selection in this June's draft having been with the Muckdogs for going on two weeks.

With the Sun Devils this spring, Blair threw 106 1/3 innings, posting a 12-1 record with a 3.64 ERA. Though Blair took exception when I asked him about it last week, scouts noted his elevated pitch counts due to uneven command. Blair struck out 108 and walked 29 while opponents launched 11 home runs against him. Collegiate hitters managed a .274 average when he appeared.

Unless Blair takes the mound for Batavia soon, he will run out of time in the regular season. If the Muckdogs continue on their current trajectory, they will fall short of the playoffs, though they come into Sunday just one game out in the wild card race. Their 2010 campaign is assured of having just 20 games remaining. What appears will be the Muckdogs' final season in Batavia will conclude its regular schedule on Labor Day.

Sending Blair to the organization's fall instructional league would have seemed a more likely option, but Luhnow hinted in the same interview that instructs may not be held this fall at the Cardinals complex in Jupiter, Florida for the second consecutive year.

Whether or not Blair pitches for Batavia in a handful of games, the Arizona Fall League move with him would be surprising. Facing the elite Double-A and Triple-A hitters in the AFL seems a big jump for a pitcher yet to be deemed ready to face rookie-level New York-Penn League competition. One would imagine that if Blair is sent to his old Phoenix-area stomping grounds this fall, that he will pitch in relief.

Washington's Stephen Strasburg and Blair's former ASU teammate Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds each made their professional debuts in the AFL last fall, but that is quite unusual. Further, Blair seems on a different career trajectory or he wouldn't be in the New York-Penn League currently.

If past years are an indication, tentative 2010 AFL rosters may be announced in the next week to ten days. Their season begins on Tuesday, October 12.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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