6/7/2014 8:25 P.M. ET
Bucs select hometown fan, college closer in 15th round
By Stephen Pianovich / MLB.com
Eric Dorsch originally planned to go to PNC Park on Friday night to watch the Pirates take on the Brewers. He decided against it, though, staying at his home just north of Pittsburgh, hoping to get a call from a club that wanted to draft the 6-foot-8 right-handed pitcher.
That call never came, and Dorsch missed a chance to see the team he grew up rooting for in person. But, for Dorsch, missing the Pirates' 15-5 drubbing of the Brewers was more than made up for the next day.
The Pirates selected Dorsch in the 15th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. The Kent State product who grew up in Gibsonia, Pa., a half-hour drive from PNC Park, was the 461st overall pick and understandably overjoyed with the news.
"It's something you dream about as a little kid, being drafted by your hometown team," Dorsch said. "The draft, that's an unpredictable thing, and you never know what team you're going to go to. So, when they called my name, I was very grateful."
Dorsch pitched in two seasons as a reliever at Kent State after redshirting in the 2011 season and was the team's closer this past season. Dorsch is the tallest player the Pirates selected this year, and with his size, a low-to-mid 90s fastball and hard slider, he was also picked during last year's Draft in the 21st round by the Cincinnati Reds.
But he made the choice to return to the Golden Flashes for another season, and it's one he certainly is not regretting.
"It was later in the Draft, and I thought it'd be the best decision to go finish one more year at school and hope for the best next year," Dorsch said. "And now that this year came, I went a little higher, went to the hometown team, I was definitely happy with the decision I made. Can't really beat it."
Dorsch has another year of eligibility left, but said he "absolutely" plans to sign with the Pirates.
The 22-year-old had his best collegiate season in 2014, collecting 10 saves in 27 appearances and posting 27 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings to go with a 3.56 ERA. He was a reliever throughout his time at Kent State, and Dorsch said one of his favorite moments was his first save, which came when he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a 3-2 win against Louisville last season.
"I kind of developed more into a back-end, late-in-the-game, closer-type role," he said. "I enjoyed it, I had a lot of success in the role and that's where my college career was."
Despite growing up so close to PNC Park, Dorsch has never played a game there. The closest he came to the professional diamond in Pittsburgh was when he was a bat boy for his brother's high school team during a playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium.
Drafting close to home has worked out for the Pirates before. In 2004, the Bucs took second baseman Neil Walker with their first pick (11th overall). Walker was a Pine-Richland High School product (a school that neighbors Dorsch's North Allegheny) and has developed into one of the top second baseman in the National League.
Now, many of Walker's friends and family get to watch him play Major League baseball 81 times a year, just needing a short drive to do so. As a 15th-rounder, the odds are much greater for Dorsch to replicate Walker.
But the odds weren't that great that he'd end up in the Pirates organization, either.
"For all the hard work that Eric has put in over the years and for him to be drafted by the Pirates was a dream come true for him," Joanna Dorsch, Eric's mother, said.
Son of Pirates coach Jauss drafted by Nationals
DJ Jauss, son of Pirates assistant coach Dave Jauss, was picked in the 29th round (874th overall) by the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
The younger Jauss is a right-handed pitcher from the University of Massachusetts where he posted a 4.82 ERA in 16 relief appearances in 2014. Dave Jauss is also a UMass graduate and is in his second season on the Pirates' bench.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.