Former Kentucky baseball player named to SEC Baseball Legends Class

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

A Kentucky baseball great was named to the 2023 SEC Baseball Legends Class and will be recognized at the SEC Baseball Tournament in May.

Joe Blanton, one of the top pitchers in Kentucky baseball history, is a member of the latest SEC Baseball Legends Class.

Blanton, who pitched for the Wildcats from 2000-02, is the youngest member of this year’s class. He’s joined by former Auburn great Frank Thomas, Georgia’s Derek Lilliquist, and LSU’s Todd Walker.

He pitched in 55 games during his Kentucky baseball career, setting records along the journey. A stud junior season that consisted of 133 strikeouts in 100 innings led to Blanton being drafted 24th overall by the Oakland Athletics. He became just the second Kentucky baseball player to be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft.

Blanton’s 133 strikeouts set the single-season record for a Wildcat pitcher. He still sits in fourth all-time in strikeouts at Kentucky, with 231.

He became a steady pitcher in the MLB, last playing in 2017. He compiled a career record of 101-97 with a 4.38 ERA, and over 1,000 career strikeouts. Blanton is tied for 321st in career strikeouts.

His biggest moment in the majors came in the 2008 World Series when Blanton became the first Kentucky baseball alum to win a game on the biggest stage. He also hit a home run in the 10-2 win. His Philadelphia Phillies would go on to win the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays in the next game.

Blanton would later play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Washington Nationals.

Joe Blanton, Kentucky baseball, Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas City Royals
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Blanton and the rest of this year’s SEC Baseball Legends Class will be honored at the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament, which takes place from May 23-28 in Hoover, Alabama.

Kentucky baseball is currently tied for third place in the SEC with an 11-7 record in the conference.

The Wildcats play a series at Vanderbilt that starts Friday.