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Pirates

Holliday, Colamarino head list of local players drafted

| Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Brian Holliday missed his chance to play at PNC Park during his high school career, as Moon lost in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals the past two seasons.

But Holliday still might get his chance to take the mound at the North Shore stadium.

The Pirates drafted Holliday, a 6-foot-2 left-hander senior pitcher, Tuesday in 12th round (343rd overall) of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft.

Holliday, whose has thrown 91 mph, made his mark as a junior in leading Moon to the PIAA championship as he registered the third shutout in a state title game. He's had a solid senior season, going 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 60 innings.

"It feels amazing, it's great, it's wonderful," Holliday said.

Etna native Brant Colamarino, an ambidextrous first baseman who bats left-handed, and Brownsville graduate Mike Patitucci, a left-handed pitcher, joined Holliday as the only local players selected during the first day of the draft, which included 22 of the 50 rounds. Oakland selected Colamarino, a Central Catholic graduate and Pitt junior, in the seventh round (218th overall), and Baltimore chose Patitucci, an Oklahoma State junior, in the 19th round (556th overall).

Patitucci's took an awkward path to becoming a mahor-league draft pick. After graduating from Brownsville, Patitucci accepted a full football scholarship to Ohio University.

But he soon regretted that decision after realizing there wasn't much future for a six-foot option quarterback. So, after his first semester, he transferred to Gulf Coast Community College in Florida.

"We were on our first break at Thanksgiving, and I knew I didn't want to play anymore," Patitucci said. "It was kind of a up-in-the air decision then, but it's paid off."

Oklahoma State signed Patitucci (6-0, 190) after two years at Gulf Coast, but he didn't start pitching until halfway through this season. After not winning a starting outfield position, the Cowboys put him in the bullpen, taught him a curveball and change-up and he soon hit 92 mph on the radar gun.

He was surprised to be picked in the first 20 rounds, considering he started just one game at Oklahoma State.

"I haven't really pitched," Patitucci said. "But that's one of the things they liked. They said I have a lot of room for improvement because I haven't thrown much."

Colamarino (5-11, 205) led the Panthers in batting average (.384), runs (58) and home runs (19). Major League Baseball's website compared him to former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk.

"I don't pay attention to that stuff," Colamarino said. "If that's what they want to say, that's fine."

Colamarino and Holliday haven't made a decision on signing. Holliday has an 80 percent scholarship to Kentucky and Colamarino could return to Pitt for his senior year. Patitucci plans to sign with the Orioles.

The second Pitt player taken Tuesday was 22-year-old, left-handed pitcher Eric Ackerman, who went to the Kansas City Royals with the 468th-overall pick. The Denver, Pa. native led Pitt with seven victories this past season, going 16-7 for his career.

West Virginia University left-handed pitcher Joseph Van Gorder (1-5, 7.03 ERA) went to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 14th round (432nd overall). The Toronto Blue Jays selected West Virginia State junior outfielder David Smith, a Charleston, W.Va. native, in the 15th round (446th overall). Smith hit .433 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI this season. Later that round, the Arizona Diamondbacks took WVU junior pitcher Dustin Nippert (6-7, 215).

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