Blanton, DeFrancesco To Participate In All-Star Futures Game
Sacramento River Cats pitcher Joe Blanton and manager Tony DeFrancesco have been selected to participate in the 2004 New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game. The announcement was made today by Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and Baseball America.
The New York Mercantile Exchange All-Star Futures Game will be held July 11 at Minute Maid Park in Houston as part of the festivities for the 75th Major League Baseball All-Star Game (July 13). The seven-inning game will feature the top American-born prospects against the top international prospects. Rosters for the game were selected by Major League Baseball, in conjunction with Baseball America and the 30 clubs of Major League Baseball. Each major league club will be represented in the game, and all players from full-season minor league teams were eligible for selection.
Blanton, 23, is 4-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 starts with Sacramento this season. He is tied for third in the Pacific Coast League with 64 SO and is third in the league with 89.0 IP. Oaklands first-round selection (24th overall) in the 2002 Draft, he went 11-8 with 1 S and a 2.29 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) last season between Kane County (Single-A) and Midland (Double-A). He threw in one postseason game for Sacramento last year, and was a member of the River Cats PCL Championship club. During his three-year professional career, Blanton is 16-13 with 1 S and a 3.01 ERA in 48 games (43 starts).
Blanton becomes the third River Cats player selected to participate in the All-Star Futures Game, following pitchers Barry Zito (2000) and Rich Harden (2003).
DeFrancesco will participate in the All-Star Futures Game as a coach on Goose Gossages staff for the U.S. Team. This marks the second consecutive season he was chosen to coach in the game. The 2004 season is DeFrancescos second as manager of the River Cats, his 11th as a manager in the As organization. Entering tonights game, he has a career managerial record of 658-603 (.522). DeFrancesco led Sacramento to a 92-52 record last season en route to its first PCL Championship. The River Cats went 6-0 in the postseason during their championship run. Following the season, DeFrancesco was named PCL Manager of the Year and The Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year.
A ninth-round selection of the Boston Red Sox in the 1984 Draft, he played eight seasons of professional baseball between the Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds organizations. A catcher, he had his best professional season in 1984 when he batted .299 and was named a New York-Penn League All-Star with the Elmira Pioneers (Rookie).
The River Cats will play the final game of an eight-game homestand tonight against the Tacoma Rainiers. Following a four-game roadtrip at Portland, they will return to Raley Field on Saturday to begin a seven-game, eight-day homestand. Tickets for all River Cats home games are available at the Raley Field Ticket Office, on the internet at www.rivercats.com and at all Tickets.com outlets (select Raley's & Bel Air stores). Fans can also purchase tickets by phone at 916-371-HITS.
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