June 7, 2011
PITTSBURGH—Pitt senior Kevan Smith and redshirt-sophomore Ray Black were drafted in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB draft on Tuesday. Smith was selected by the Chicago White Sox with the 231st overall pick while Black was taken six picks later (237th) by the San Francisco Giants.
Smith becomes the seventh highest draft pick to come out of Pitt while Black ranks eighth.
Smith, an All-BIG EAST first-team selection in 2010 and 2011 tied all league hitters with a .396 batting average during the 2011 regular season. A football quarterback turned star catcher, Smith led the conference in runs scored (56) while adding eight home runs and 52 RBI in the regular season. He also posted a .979 fielding percentage and ranks 21st among NCAA leaders in slugging percentage (.675) and 22nd in overall batting average (.397).
“Kevan may have been one of the most talented players in the draft,” head coach Joe Jordano said. “For a senior to be drafted in the 7th round, it proves his value and his skill set. We all very much look forward to watching his professional career. He was an integral part of our team and I am very happy he decided to play baseball a few years ago. He has worked very hard and I believe his best years are ahead of him.”
The 6-3 Cranberry Twp. native garnered several additional honors throughout the 2011 season. On April 11, Smith was named BIG EAST Player of the Week and made the league honor roll later in the season. Prior to the season, Smith was named by College Baseball 360 as one of the “11 Catchers to Watch in 2011.”
In his three seasons on the diamond, Smith was all over the charts on Pitt’s all-time leaders lists. His .375 career batting average ranks fifth all time, while he ranks eighth in career total bases (313) and 10th in career RBI (123).
In 2010, Smith collected the third most hits by a Panther in school history with 84 and followed with 83 in 2011.
While excelling during the regular season, Smith is one of the all-time BIG EAST Tournament hitters. In three seasons, Smith has combined to bat .552 (16-for-29) in championship play. His three home runs at this year’s Championships were tops among all sluggers. The clutch performances earned Smith BIG EAST All-Tournament honors in both 2010 and 2011.
A native of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Black set the school season-record for strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 (14.85). Described as a “flamethrower” by several scouts, Black regularly reached the upper-90’s with his fastball.
This past season, Black -- a 6-5 right-hander -- made 18 relief appearances and recorded four saves while finishing with a 1-1 record. In 20 innings of work, he fanned 33 batters. On four different occasions, the redshirt-sophomore struck out the side highlighted by a save on April 30 against Cincinnati. In the game, Black struck out the side in order, closing out the game and giving the Panthers a 9-8 victory.
“It is exciting to see Ray be drafted in the 7th round,” Jordano said of Black. “Ray has a big arm with a ton of upside. He is in a great position right now and whatever decision he makes, he will be in great shape. Ray has worked very hard and is a great team player who deserves everything that comes his way.”
In his two seasons at Pitt, Black has accumulated 30 appearances with two starts. His five saves are tied for eighth all-time in the Panthers’ record book.
“Today is a very exciting day for me,” Black said. “I am presented with a great opportunity. I could come back to the University of Pittsburgh for my junior year or I can play at the professional level. It’s a nice choice to have to make.”
Smith and Black become the 19th and 20th players to be drafted under the tutelage of Jordano.
The 2011 draft continues this evening, up to the 30th round. It concludes on Wednesday with the final 20 rounds.