Baseball

Blanton and Almond Selected in MLB Draft

SALISBURY, N.C. -- Catawba College had a pair of players selected on the final day of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft. Junior closer Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) was taken in the 21st round by the New York Yankees, while junior catcher Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 35th round.

Blanton finished one save shy of both the season and career save records. In 2017, Blanton racked up a league-best 14 saves, while notching 24 in his career. His 14 saves this year ranked third in NCAA II. In 27 appearances, Blanton fanned 50 batters over 33 and a third innings and walked just 15. He posted a 2.70 ERA.

Almond ranked among the top 25 in NCAA II in home runs and RBI.  He connected on 17 homers in his 53 games, while posting a team-high 61 RBI. Almond batted .364 on the year while adding 18 doubles. At one point in the season, he had a 20-game hitting streak.

The draft marks the sixth straight year that Catawba has had a player taken in the MLB draft and nine of the last 10 years. Two of the draftees have made it to the Major League, Jerry Sands and Jordan (JJ) Jankowski. Sands has played with the Dodgers, Rays and Indians, and is currently in the San Francisco organization. Jankowski made a couple of appearances earlier this year with Houston.

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