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Pirates sign 1st-round pick Tucker

| Thursday, June 12, 2014, 4:51 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates first round draft pick Cole Tucker hugs Pedro Alvarez, as his little brother, Carson, gets a hug from manager Clint Hurdle during batting practice Thursday, June, 12, 2014, at PNC Park.

After first-round pick Cole Tucker signed his contract Thursday, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington ushered the 17-year-old shortstop onto the field during batting practice.

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez spotted Tucker and rushed over with a smile.

“They greeted each other like they were old friends,” Huntington said. “It threw me for a loop.”

Tucker knows Alvarez through the family of Alvarez's wife. The players met in 2008, the year the Pirates drafted Alvarez No. 2 overall.

After the Pirates chose Tucker 24th overall last week, Alvarez called him with advice about how to handle life in the minor leagues.

“Pedro told me it's going to be a long grind,” Tucker said. “There are going to be a lot of ups and downs. The key through the whole thing is to stay consistent. You want to be consistent from rookie ball to the NL Central.”

Tucker received a $1.8 million signing bonus, about $125,000 less than the slot amount. He was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Pirates (rookie ball) in Bradenton, Fla.

“Until I signed the paper, it hadn't set in,” Tucker said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I've been drafted. I'm going to be a Pirate.' But when you see that contract in front of you and have all these guys around you, watching you sign, it really hit me hard. It's unbelievable.”

A switch-hitter, Tucker batted .404 with five home runs and 13 stolen bases this season for Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix.

Tucker's family is friends with former Pirates first baseman Kevin Young, who lives in Arizona. Between Alvarez and Young, Tucker is very familiar with the Pirates.

“I'm just a baseball junkie,” Tucker said. “I've always had interest in the Pirates, so it's really cool to put on this uniform.”

After catching up for a while with Alvarez, Tucker met manager Clint Hurdle and the rest of the team. Tucker admitted he was a little awe-struck when he met the reigning NL MVP.

“Andrew McCutchen is kind of a big deal,” Tucker said. “He was a first-round pick. I'm a first-round pick. To think I'm kind of in that realm, that they think I can be that type of player, is unbelievable.”

The Pirates signed 10 other picks Thursday: catcher Taylor Gushue (fourth round), right-hander Austin Coley (eighth), righty Sam Street (16th), infielder Erik Lunde (18th), outfielder Carl Anderson (19th), left-hander John Sever (20th), righty Jess Amedee (27), righty Nick Neumann (28th), righty Luis Paula (31) and right-hander Montana DuRapau (32nd).The Pirates have announced 16 signings, but that likely will increase Friday by at least one. Second-round pick Mitch Keller told the Des Moines Register that he was slated to have his physical Thursday and will sign his contract Friday.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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