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Travis Blackley

Travis Blackley - LHP
Hometown: Melbourne, VIC
Debut: 1 July 2004
Final Game: 13 September 2013
Teams played for: Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Kia Tigers (KBO), Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (NPB), Melbourne Aces

Like many of the Aussies who came before him, Melbourne-born starting pitcher Travis Blackley's professional baseball career took him on a winding road around the world in pursuit of diamond success.

Blackley signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2000 at the age of 18 as an amateur free agent, and quickly rose through the organization's Minor League ranks. He made his MLB debut on 1 July of that year, pitching 5 2/3 innings for his first career win. However, the lefty went 0-3 in his next few starts and Seattle optioned him back to Triple-A for the rest of the season. The injury bug also bit Blackley that season, when tendinitis in his left shoulder caused him to miss the rest of 2004 and all of 2005.

Blackley's next shot at the Majors came in 2007, after the Mariners traded him to the San Francisco Giants. After going 10-8 with a 4.66 ERA at Triple A Fresno, the Giants called Blackley up for a start on 23 September. He didn't disappoint, pitching five innings of two-run ball and earning his second MLB victory more than three years after his first.

Nevertheless, he spent the next few years around the Minors for the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, and with the Dorados de Chihuahua of the Mexican League. Blackley was a 27-year-old journeyman searching for his next big break when he joined his hometown Melbourne Aces for the inaugural ABL season in December 2010, starting two games and posting an 0-1 record with a 0.82 ERA. He stayed near home for the 2011 season, playing for the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization and going 7-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 22 starts.

Blackley's performance in the KBO earned him another shot with the Giants, who signed him to a Minor League contract. However, after appearing in four games, San Francisco once again designated him for assignment. Blackley wasn't out of work for long, though, shifting to the Athletics two days later. He found the mound more comfortable in Oakland, and after making several relief appearances, he joined the Athletics' starting rotation and finished the season with a career-best 6-4 record and 3.86 ERA.

The Athletics traded him to the Houston Astros in April 2013, where he pitched in relief before being traded to the Texas Rangers that August. He went 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA in three starts for the Rangers and, prior to 2014, signed as a free agent with the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball in the offseason.

View Travis Blackley's career statistics from Baseball Reference

(Photo at right: Blackley on the mound for the Melbourne Aces during the ABL's 2011/12 season. Credit: SMP Images/ABL Media)