ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks prospect Blake Walston’s Las Vegas call-up: ‘I was at the table’

May 1, 2024, 6:15 PM

Blake Walston...

Blake Walston of the Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training at Salt River Fields. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect Blake Walston was at the Blackjack table in the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday after Triple-A Reno faced the Las Vegas Aviators, a unique setting to receive the news of a lifetime.

Aces manager Blake Lalli told Walston he was headed to the major leagues, and Arizona officially called the 6-foot-5 lefty up for the first time Wednesday.

“We were in Vegas, and I was at the table and all my buddies just started swarming me,” Walston said. “Coach came down there and I threw my last hand out there, lost and he was like ‘You don’t have to worry about it. You’re going to the big leagues.’ I didn’t really think it was real, but I’m here now.”

Walston said 12 against a 10 did not work.

The 22-year-old will work out of the bullpen at first with Jordan Montgomery starting Wednesday. Manager Torey Lovullo said the club needed length after using an unexpected bullpen game Tuesday after the lengthy bees delay.

Walston said he called his brother 20 times to no answer, then called his mom.

“My dad answered and I told him. My dad was running around the house,” Walston said. “He didn’t actually even make the flight, unfortunately. He was driving to South Carolina, missed a flight because he booked it in Wilmington. He was so rattled.”

Eventually Walston got ahold of his brother, who will attend Wednesday’s game along with Walston’s close buddy and girlfriend.

Lovullo called Walston reaching the major leagues a good moment for the organization. The Diamondbacks took Walston with the No. 26 overall pick in the 2019 draft out of New Hanover High School in North Carolina. He was taken 10 spots after Corbin Carroll at No. 16.

Even with the lost 2020 minor league season, Walston cut through the system and reached Triple-A Reno at 21 years old last season, ranked a top five prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline. He had some bumps, as he nearly walked as many hitters with 93 as he struck out at 104. He still managed a 4.59 ERA in a tough place to pitch.

In five outings this year, he has 19 punch outs and 15 walks, but he only allowed one earned run over his last 11 innings.

“First couple outings, a little rough, didn’t have my sequencing mixed up well, and then the past few outings have been pretty solid,” Walston said. “It was definitely a long journey. I went through every level, definitely learned a lot at each level. Had a lot of battles personally in my life that I had to overcome.”

Lovullo said Walston has shown toughness throughout the process. Walston was not even 18 when he was drafted.

“He gets outs. That’s the beauty of what he does on a day where he doesn’t have his best stuff. He competes and finds a way to pitch deep into the game and help his team win,” Lovullo said. “That’s one of the characteristics every manager he has played for said about him. He’s still making adjustments.”

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