Pitt baseball pitchers Derek West and Yaya Chentouf and infielder Liam Sabino were all selected during the third day of the 2018 MLB Draft on Wednesday, giving the Panthers five players selected in total this season.
West, a redshirt sophomore that was a mid-week starter and a reliever for the Panthers this season was chosen with the 832nd pick in the 28th round by the Atlanta Braves.
The Orange City, Florida native appeared in 13 games for the Panthers this season with nine starts. He finished the season with 50 innings pitched and had a 3.24 ERA with 24 walks and 47 strikeouts. It was his first collegiate action after missing each of his first two seasons with injuries.
“It means a great deal to me to be selected in this year’s draft,” West said. “I had a rather unorthodox path coming back from two season-ending surgeries, to be able to come out this past season and fight alongside my team and then put myself in a position to play professionally is the best feeling there is. I definitely want to thank all my doctors and medical staff who ensured I would be back on the field as soon as possible.
“I would especially like to thank Kyle Cook for playing the biggest role in both my surgeries and getting me healthy. Pitt definitely provided me with the top of the line sources to get me back to where I needed to be. I look forward to staying healthy, continuing my career at the professional level and seeing where it takes me.”
West pitched five innings of no-hit relief in Pitt’s 5-4 ACC Tournament upset victory over top-seeded North Carolina.
Sabino was the first and only Pitt position player to be drafted when he was taken with the 1,053rd pick in the 35th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. The New York native led the Panthers in most offensive categories, including home runs (16), stolen bases (18) and OPS (.991).
“It is hard to put into words what it means to start my professional career, but the reoccurring feeling that I have is gratitude,” said Sabino. “My journey has not been the most traveled route, nor has it been the smoothest, but thanks to countless individuals in my life who have always encouraged me to keep going, and here we are. This experience is a direct result of hard work, faith, love and a sturdy support system. I am a firm believer that if you can see your dream in your mind, amidst the daily ups and downs, you’ll find a way to see it before your eyes.”
Sabino started the year at third base before moving to second by the end of the year. He has also played shortstop. The redshirt junior sat out the 2017 season after transferring to Pitt from Vanderbilt.
“Liam is a dynamic player,” said head coach Joe Jordano. “He is very competent in the infield and I feel could be an outstanding outfielder as well at the next level. He has speed, he possesses a great arm, he’s got power in all fields and he’s very instinctive on the diamond. His baseball IQ is off the charts and if he makes a few adjustments I believe he will have a long and productive professional career.”
Chentouf, a junior right-handed pitcher, is Pitt’s all-time leader in saves after posting eight in 2018, his first season as a full-time pitcher after also playing in the outfield his first two seasons.
The Ocoee, Florida native finished the season with 41 innings pitched. He posted a 3.73 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP while striking out 45 batters and walking 19.
“It’s a blessing to be selected in this year’s draft, and I can’t wait to get started with the next step in my career,” said Chentouf. “I think about all of the people that have helped mold me into the person that I am today and I want to thank everyone who has been on this crazy journey.”
“Yaya is one of the toughest, most competitive athletes that I’ve ever coached,” said Jordano. “He wants the ball in pressure situations and, even if he does not succeed, he immediately wants to go back out and convert on the next opportunity. He’s a bulldog on the mound and an incredibly intense competitor. I have no doubt he will be successful in professional baseball.”
Pitt also had two commits drafted. Mason Ronan, a left-handed pitcher from Penn Cambria High School and Pitt’s highest-rated recruit in the incoming class, was selected in the 29th Round by the Boston Red Sox. Malvern Prep High School right-handed pitcher Billy Corcoran was drafted in the 36th Round by the Detroit Tigers.
All of the players drafted have the option to return school if they choose to. 2018 makes the sixth straight draft that Pitt has had at least three players selected. Pitt last had five players chose in the draft in 2016.