Pitt had two players selected in the MLB Draft on Wednesday and on Thursday, they added three more late in the day.
First, pitcher Derek West was taken by the Atlanta Braves in Round 28. Next, star infielder Liam Sabino was taken in the 35th Round by the St. Louis Cardinals. And in the 36th Round, pitchers Yaya Chentouf was selected by the Detroit Tigers.
Pitt also had a pair of incoming commits taken as Mason Ronan was selected in the 29th Round by the Boston Red Sox and Billy Corcoran went to the Texas Rangers in the 36th.
In all, the Panthers had five players selected, which ties them for the second most the program has ever had, tying that number in 2016.
The question now is if any will return as the players can do if they do not sign with their team. Of the group drafted, pitcher Matt Pidich is the only senior. Sabino, for what it’s worth, sounds as if he’s already gone. “It is hard to put into words what it means to start my professional career, but the reoccurring feeling that I have is gratitude,” said Sabino.
West and Chentouf, the other players taken today, also echoed somewhat similar thoughts about moving on to the pros, though, I suppose anything is possible.
In terms of surprises, I thought Sabino would go a little higher. He had a great year finishing at or near the top in most offensive categories for Pitt. His 16 home runs easily led the team (no one else had more than six). Sabino also led the Panthers in RBI (44), total bases (125), runs (39), doubles (17), and tied for the team lead in hits (60). One of his problem areas was strikeouts as his 79 whiffs led the team by a wide margin as well. Sabino also kind of ended the season with a dud, hitting only .174 in his last six games. He also had some particularly bad stretches. In addition to that rough ending, he was 0-14 in the Boston College series, 2-11 vs. Virginia, and 2-11 vs. Miami.
One player not taken was outfielder Frank Maldonado. Maldonado, like Sabino, had a standout year, batting .300 and tying Sabino for the team lead in hits. His 41 RBI and 90 total bases were second behind only Sabino as well and, as we saw in the ACC Tournament, he made some outstanding defensive plays as the Panthers made a surprise run to the semifinals. As I mentioned on Twitter during the ACC Tournament, I wasn’t sure Maldonado would ever make it to the majors. But I was a little surprised no one took a chance on him with even a late pick.
The case of the incoming commits is a particularly interesting one. Both Ronan appear to be top flight recruits and were 2018 Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-Americans. In this article, Ronan was expected to be taken in the first few rounds of the entire draft but the pitcher fell all the way to the 29th Round. That should hopefully increase the chance he makes it to Pitt.
Landing both could be crucial to the program. Pitt is already set to lose four key pitchers from last season and hanging onto them would help lessen the blow. My guess is that the other guys are all gone. About the only reason to come back to college is to improve your stock and other than possibly Sabino, I’m not sure anyone else would do that.