Pitcher Eric Dorsch, North Allegheny grad, drafted by Pirates

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

While growing up in McCandless, Eric Dorsch always picked the Pirates when it came down to which team was his favorite. On June 7, it was the Pirates who picked Dorsch.

In the 15th round and with the 461st overall selection, the Pirates drafted the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Dorsch, a North Allegheny graduate. The 22-year old right-handed reliever signed June 11 and was sent to the Class A short-season Jamestown (N.Y.) Jammers. That team's season opener was scheduled for June 13, after this edition's deadline.

“It was kind of a dream come true,” Dorsch said. “It's something you dream about when you're a kid.”

A redshirt junior this past season, Dorsch threw 30 13 innings this season with 27 strikeouts and a 3.56 ERA for Kent State University, which went 36-23 overall and 16-11 in the Mid-American Conference. He was selected in the 21st round by Cincinnati after a sophomore campaign in which he fired 32 13 innings with 47 strikeouts but decided against signing.

“At the time, I was only a redshirt sophomore, so I still had two years of eligibility,” Dorsch explained. “I was trying to get one more year closer to a degree (in exercise physiology) and see where the draft would take me the following year.”

It ended up being the right decision. Among the many teams keeping an eye on Dorsch was the Pirates.

“We followed and liked Eric's growth and development over the past few years and were drawn to his ability to consistently throw strikes with his heavy sinking fastball and hard breaking slider,” Pirates director of scouting Joe DelliCarri said.

Dorsch played at North Allegheny when the Tigers won the WPIAL title in 2009, Dorsch's junior year. Even in high school, Dorsch stood above his peers.

“Back in high school, he was about 6-6,” said North Allegheny coach Andy Maddix, who has been at the helm since Dorsch's playing days. “When we had tryouts, he was the fastest kid, he was the strongest kid. He was really a physical specimen.”

Maddix said his former player's best attribute is how he kept getting better as he grew into that imposing body.

“He's a kid who has improved incrementally since I have known him,” Maddix said.

Dorsch's progress is ongoing. He knows that in order to advance his career and keep his dream going, he must be at his best. With his size and low- to mid-90s fastball, the physical tools are there.

“I need to continue to work on being consistent,” he said. “Just go out there and be able to throw strikes and pitch to my best ability.”

Only time will tell how far Dorsch's ability can take him. For now, he still is amazed that he was taken by the same team for which he grew up cheering.

“The draft is completely unpredictable,” he said. “It was honestly a great thing to see happen.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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