HUNTINGTON – Former Marshall baseball right-hander Dan Straily is returning to the Majors, as he was called up Thursday by the American League West-leading Houston Astros. Straily is scheduled to start Friday night against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Another former Herd star, right-hander Aaron Blair, added to his recent promotion to the Class AAA Reno Aces in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system with a selection to the United States roster for the Pan Am Games later this month in suburban Toronto.
Straily, who previously pitched in the Majors for Oakland and the Chicago Cubs, was 6-6 with a 4.06 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 14 walks in 77 2/3 innings for the Fresno Grizzlies in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. In his last eight starts, Straily, 26, is 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA over 48 1/3 innings, with 52 strikeouts and only six walks.
He is joining an Astros’ team that has the best record in the AL.
In his previous big league stints over parts of three seasons (2012-14), Straily, from Springfield, Ore., is 13-12 with a 4.54 ERA, with 203 strikeouts 203 in 243 innings. He was a 24th-round draft pick by Oakland from Marshall in 2009.
Blair, the No. 36 overall pick by Arizona in the 2013 MLB Draft, was selected this season for the Class AA Southern League All-Star Game – but never got to pitch because he moved up to Reno in the PCL prior to the game. Blair was 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 64 strikeouts and a league-leading (at the time) 83 1/3 for the Mobile BayBears when he moved on June 17.
Blair, 23, is 2-1 in three starts with a 4.86 ERA for Reno, with 15 strikeouts in 16 2/3. In his last two outings, the 6-foot-5 right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA, with 11 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. In two years and three pro seasons over five pro levels, Blair is 18-12 with a 3.33 ERA, with 291 strikeouts in 303 innings. Opponents are batting .227 against him.
The Las Vegas native was named to the U.S. team for the Pan Am Games on Monday, one of 12 pitchers on the U.S. roster managed by former Dodgers, Pirates and Rockies Manager Jim Tracy. The seven-team Pan Am Games baseball competition is scheduled July 11-19.
In addition to Straily and Blair, Herd baseball alumni enjoyed another promotion recently when outfielder Isaac Ballou – a 15th-round draft pick by Washington in 2013 – was elevated from the advanced Class A Potomac Nationals to the Nats’ Double A Eastern League farm team in Harrisburg, Pa.
Ballou, 25, was hitting .249 at Potomac with three homers, 25 RBI and 11-of-13 on stolen base attempts. In four Harrisburg games, he’s batting .273 with one RBI and a stolen base.
Ballou’s move gives Coach Jeff Waggoner’s Herd program two players in Class AA. Right-hander Kevin Shackelford is with the southern League’s Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Cincinnati system. Shackelford is 1-4 with a 4.01 ERA and three saves this season.
Herd baseball, under Waggoner, has had 18 MLB Draft picks since 2008. Straily is one of 11 former Marshall University players to play in Major League Baseball.