Pirates Sign Black, Top Three In Uniform

Brian WolffCorrespondent IJune 22, 2009

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 13: Fans mill around outside the ballpark on opening day for the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to playing the Houston Astros at PNC Park April 13, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Pirates signed their No. 2 overall pick on Monday, agreeing to terms with RHP Victor Black, their 49th overall pick. The Dallas Baptist University star was the 29th highest rated pitcher in this year's draft, as rated by Baseball America.

The 6-foot-4, 210 pound, 21-year-old relies on his up-to-95-MPH fastball, but also throws a slider and is developing a changeup.

Prior to his signing, Black had expressed a desire to get out and experience professional baseball. He will get his wish as the Pirates have assinged him to the State College Spikes in the New York-Penn League, in order to get him playing right away.

Two more draft picks signed in the last few days, with the Pirates getting their highly-coveted second round pick. High school senior Brooks Pounders signed for an in-slot bonus on Thursday, followed with Rice University second baseman Brock Hold on Friday, their ninth round draft pick.

Black is just the kind of young pitcher the Pirates feel they can work with—a hard throwing pitcher willing to fill any role.  

He has said he is open to the idea of being a closer rather than a starter which might just be what the Pirates have in mind for him. “If that works I would love to do it. I love throwing strikes to get people out.” As a bullpen pitcher he could move through the minor league system more quickly.

Also on Monday, the Pirates signed three other collegiate draftees.  

First baseman Aaron Baker was the pirates 11th round choice. Baker hit .284 with 15 home runs for the Oklahoma Sooners in his junior year. Baker drove in 50 or more runs in three consecutive seasons for the Sooners.

Phillip Irwin, chosen in the 21st round, was 8-3 with a 3.84 ERA in 15 games as a junior at the University of Mississippi.

Ed Fallon, chosen in the 43rd round was 2-0 and had a save in 20 appearances for the University of South Carolina.

These three signings bring the Pirates signing 12 of 51 picks from this years first-year Player Draft, including their top three.

Their second overall pick, Black, was compensation for a draftee not signed last year. The Pirates draft team, particularly scout Mike Leuzinger, took notice of Black’s fastball mentality.

Black has been a major league prospect since his freshman year when he could already hit a mid-90s fastball. He was drafted by the Mets in 2006 and had the attention of the Yankees as well that year. At the time, he said he was not sure what he could do as a pitcher and passed on those opportunities.

He did not start pitching until his senior hear in high school. Before that he was a catcher. In his first two years at DBU, he struggled with his control, walking a lot. But he has gotten those numbers down in his junior year.

He was 6-4 in 15 starts with Dallas Baptist University, striking out 99 batters in 88.2 innings.