Pirates snag speedy outfielder on Day 2
Rojas, Bucs' first position player, taken 84th overall
PHILADELPHIA -- Rob Fournier's feelings went from shock to excitement on Tuesday, as his prized outfielder got the news he would become a member of the Pirates organization.
Mel Rojas Jr., who played for Fournier at Wabash Community College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., was drafted 84th overall by Pittsburgh on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft. He was the first position player the Pirates selected in 2010, and the only one among their first six picks Tuesday.
His father, Mel Sr., enjoyed 10 years in the Major Leagues as a reliever with five different clubs, winning 34 career games and posting a 3.82 ERA. But the professional bloodlines don't end there. Mel Sr. is the nephew of Felipe Alou, who played 17 years in the Majors and managed another 15 years. Felipe's son Moises, a six-time All-Star, is Mel Sr.'s cousin.
And yes, there's even a Pittsburgh connection.
Felipe's brother, Matty -- Mel Jr.'s great uncle -- played for the Pirates from 1966 to 1970 as an outfielder. He won the National League batting title in his first season in Pittsburgh, hitting .342, and he led the NL in hits and doubles in 1969.
To go along with that, Mel Jr.'s favorite Major League player of all time is former Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente.
At Wabash, he made a name for himself with his legs. Though his arm has been described as above-average, he is quick around the bases and considered speedy enough to play center field, though he has played all three outfield positions. He is a switch-hitter that hits for contact.
"I was extremely excited with the organization that took him," Fournier said. "They did a great job over there, a phenomenal job. And to be honest, I was absolutely shocked he lasted to the third round. But saying that, I couldn't think of a better situation, and he's extremely excited about it as well."
The Pirates, meanwhile, were happy he was available in the third round.
"[Wabash] is a tough place to go -- you're not flying to a big city to get there, obviously," Pirates scouting director Greg Smith said. "He was on our radar, I'm sure he was on a lot of teams' radars. It's just one thing about this Draft, is not every club is going to like every player. You never know how these things are going to unfold sometimes, so we were obviously trying to strategize who was going to go where or when, and he was a guy we had spent time on, done the work on, as we have with the other guys in our process. And again, [we] felt very good about making him our third-round selection and going from there."
Matt Fortuna is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.