Pitt pitcher Derek West was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 28th round of the 2018 MLB draft last Wednesday, but he announced Monday that he will return to Pitt next season.
"I would like to thank my friends and family for all the support and congratulations on my draft selection," West said in a statement. "After some serious thought, I am going to wait to start my professional career, and I will be returning to the University of Pittsburgh to further my degree and develop another year as a player and person. Hail to Pitt!"
Prior to Monday, it sounded as if West would go pro, as he said in response to getting drafted that he was looking forward to playing at the professional level.
West was the third member of the 2018 Panthers team selected in the draft, as fellow pitchers R.J. Freure and Matt Pidich were selected in the sixth and eighth rounds, respectively. Freure was picked up by the Houston Astros, and Pidich was taken by the Cincinnati Reds. Neither of the two pitchers appears to be mulling a return to school.
During his only season in action at Pitt, West made 13 appearances, including nine starts. He pitched to a 3.24 ERA, striking out 47 batters and walking 24 over 50 innings of work. Before 2018, he missed the 2016 and 2017 seasons due to a knee injury and Tommy John surgery.
Considering West’s versatility and the turnover the Panthers have experienced this offseason, the announcement will come as welcome news to Joe Jordano and the Pitt coaching staff, as they’ll have one less hole to fill in a pitching staff suddenly missing several key contributors.