The MLB Draft League, a newly created short-season minor league, began its inaugural year on Monday afternoon and the six founding teams have plenty of Western Pennsylvania connections on their rosters and coaching staffs.
It starts at the top with former Pirate, Delwyn Young, manager of the State College Spikes. Over his nine-year career in professional baseball, Young — a 31st-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2000 — appeared in more than 300 MLB games with Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his two-year stint with the Pirates lasting from 2009-10, Young batted .255 over nearly 600 plate appearances, with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs. He served primarily as a utility player during his time in the Majors.
Jack Anderson, a Pitt commit by way of North Catholic High School, will play first base and catcher for Young’s State College squad. He got one pinch-hit at bat in Monday’s season opener, a 6-5 loss to Williamsport at Medlar Field in University Park, and struck out.
Anderson began his college career at Northwestern, but transferred to the State College of Florida at Manatee-Sarasota — a junior college — in 2020. He batted .314 with five homers and 38 RBIs over 52 games for the Manatees.
Hayden Summers, another Pitt commit of JUCO origin, joins Anderson on the Spikes roster this summer. The right-handed pitcher out of Greensboro, North Carolina posted impressive numbers in his first season at Walters State Community College. Summers made eight starts in 2021, earning six wins and posting a 0.84 ERA and tallying 47 strikeouts over 32 innings pitched. He did not appear in Monday’s game.
In the opposite dugout from Young’s Spikes during the season opener was Williamsport Crosscutters pitching coach Jim Gott, another former Pirate. Gott, a southern-California native like Young, spent four seasons in the Steel City over two separate stints.
His first, spanning from 1987 to 1989, was his most successful. He posted a 2.89 ERA over 93 appearances, amassing 104 strikeouts to just 31 walks over that time. In his 14th and final season in 1995, Gott returned to Pittsburgh but was not the same pitcher. He made just 25 appearances and his ERA rose above six.
After his playing career, Gott worked as a radio broadcaster for his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers, before leaving professional baseball entirely in 1998. He returned as a coach in 2011. Gott served as a pitching coach for both the Angeles and Phillies before taking on his current role with the Crosscutters.
Gott will work closely with a young Pittsburgh native on his staff. Nick Cosentino, a right-handed pitcher who attended Pittsburgh CAPA and Obama Academy for high school, was a teammate of Anderson’s at the State College of Florida. Cosentino made 11 appearances and five starts, posting a 10.08 K/9 rate, but an inflated 6.51 ERA as well during his freshman season.
He pitched the eighth inning in the ‘Cutters win vs. State College on Monday night. Cosentino struck out the side but gave up one run on two hits and walks in the process.
Dylan Heid, a native of Malvern and recent Pitt-Johnstown graduate, started on the mound in the league’s first ever contest on Monday. The 6-foot-2 right-hander went four shutout-innings, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out seven for the Trenton Thunder.
Rounding out the local links to this league based in the Mid-Atlantic is Pittsburgh’s own Trent Vietmeier, another right-handed pitcher who will make his way to the West Virginia Black Bears roster at the conclusion of his senior season at LSU. Vietmeier has posted a 4.85 ERA for the Tigers so far this year over 16 appearances.
The 68-game Draft League season runs from the end of May through mid-July, coinciding with the start of the MLB Draft.