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Players with local ties picked in MLB draft

Pirates/MLB Videos

By John Grupp
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Peters Township outfielder Justin Bianco always intended to play baseball at Pitt, just like his dad and three of his uncles.

But that changed Tuesday in the time it took his computer to refresh.

Bianco, watching the MLB First-Year Player Draft online, saw his name -- Round 3, Pick 93, Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I wasn't expected to go that high," he said. "I was really surprised. I'd heard (I would be picked) in the top 10 rounds."

The unexpectedly high pick has prompted the 6-foot, 195-pound left-handed hitting Pitt signee to re-think his future.

"It's my dream to become a major leaguer," he said. "I will have to consider really hard and think about it."

Local flavor
Here is a list of the local players selected during the second day of the Major League First-Year Player Draft:
Round Player Pos. School Team
2 Cory Mazzoni RHP Seneca Valley/N.C. State Mets
3 Justin Bianco CF Peters Township Arizona
5 Scott McGough RHP Plum/Oregon Dodgers
7 Kevan Smith C Pitt/Seneca Valley White Sox
7 Ray Black RHP Pitt San Francisco
9 John Leonard SS Connellsville Arizona
9 Derek Law RHP Seton-La Salle/Miami Dade J.C. San Francisco
26 Grant Buckner 3B West Virginia White Sox
30 Jordan Steranka 3B Mt. Lebanon/Penn State Houston

Bianco was one of nine players with local ties selected during the draft, including former Seneca Valley standout and N.C. State junior right-hander Cory Mazzoni, a second-rounder by the New York Mets. The draft concludes today with rounds 31-50.

Plum's Scott McGough, a junior right-hander at the University of Oregon, was a fifth-round pick by the Dodgers. Two Pitt players, all-Big East senior catcher Kevan Smith of Seneca Valley and junior pitcher Ray Black, went in the seventh round to the Chicago White Sox and the San Francisco Giants, respectively.

The draft was a prideful moment for Black, who throws in the mid-90s and went 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA this season. He was undrafted out of Wilkes-Barre Coughlin H.S. after missing his senior season following Tommy John surgery.

"I thought this day would never come," Black said.

Bianco went with the 93rd overall pick, significantly higher than most of his projections. He saw his name on the draft tracker a few moments before getting the call from the Diamondbacks, who opened a three-game series against the Pirates last night at PNC Park.

Bianco, hitting .583 this season for PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinalist Peters Township, impressed Diamondbacks' scouts during a workout last month in Mobile, Ala., home of the club's Double-A affiliate.

"I did pretty good," he said. "I hit some deep balls. I think that helped that the other Diamondbacks scouts who hadn't seen me."

Based on MLB's slotting system, Bianco is looking at a signing bonus of roughly $350,000 as a third-round pick.

"I think he's definitely going to sign," his father, Matt, said.

Mazzoni, who throws in the mid-to-upper 90s, will begin negotiations with the Mets this week. The 71st overall pick could return for his senior season at N.C. State, but the 6-1, 194-pound Evans City native is likely to sign with a mid six-figure bonus.

Mazzoni, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2007 Baseball Player of the Year, went 6-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 11423 innings at N.C. State. He allowed two earned runs in his final 23 innings of the 2011 season.

"I switched up my mechanics and tried something new," he said. "It really helped me with all of my pitches. I was throwing as well as I have in my career."

The 6-foot, 170-pound McGough had five saves and 62 strikeouts in 5723 innings for Oregon. He was picked by the Pirates in the 46th round in 2008, but he didn't sign.



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