Former Pitt pitcher Yaya Chentouf was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round of the 2018 MLB draft last Wednesday, and this Tuesday, he officially signed with the organization.
”I would like to thank all of my coaches and teammates at the University of Pittsburgh for all of their support,” Chentouf said in a statement. “This group of guys was something special, and I’ll remember those Panthers forever. ... The University of Pittsburgh was the place I was meant to be, and everything I’ve learned there will never be forgotten.”
Tuesday’s news comes on the heels of an announcement from Chentouf’s teammate Derek West, another member of the Panthers pitching staff who was selected in last week’s draft. West was taken by the Atlanta Braves in the 28th round but said he would return to Pitt next season.
Like West, Chentouf was eligible to return to Pitt, but with his decision, the team now finds itself in the market for a new closer. Chentouf filled that role admirably for the Panthers during his three-year stint in Pittsburgh, compiling 16 saves over that span and becoming the team’s all-time leader in the category. He also pitched to a 3.09 career ERA — the 17th-best mark in program history.
Chentouf’s Pitt career was a bit of a roller coaster, as he got off to a great start in 2016, pitching to a 1.12 ERA and amassing six saves in his first season with the Panthers. However, that ERA bloated to 4.61 the next year before leveling out to 3.73 in 2018, when he was leaned on more frequently and racked up 45 of his 69 career strikeouts in addition to eight more saves.
”Yaya is one of the toughest, most competitive athletes that I’ve ever coached,” Pitt head coach Joe Jordano said in a statement after Chentouf was selected. “He wants the ball in pressure situations, and even if he does not succeed, he immediately wants to go back out and convert on the next opportunity. He’s a bulldog on the mound and an incredibly intense competitor. I have no doubt he will be successful in professional baseball.”