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June 8, 2011

PITTSBURGH—A day after Pitt baseball players Kevan Smith and Ray Black were selected in the seventh round of the MLB draft, four additional seniors were chosen on the final day of the draft.

Seniors David Chester, John Schultz and Travis Whitmore were taken in consecutive rounds, beginning with Chester in the 33rd Round. Corey Baker rounded out the four, going in the 49th round.

In addition, s
enior Cole Taylor signed with Traverse City of the Frontier league on Wednesday, becoming one of 49 players signed during head coach Joe Jordano’s tenure.

The six draftees’ are the most in school history and the seven players from the 2011 season to be associated with profession baseball organizations surpasses the previous Pitt record of six, previously held by the 1996 squad. The Panthers could potentially add to that total through free agency.

“Overall, I could not be more pleased with the results of the MLB draft,” Jordano said. “I believe it’s an indication of the hard work and dedication that each of our players has come to expect and the belief in our coaching staff and program. I am confident, with the new Cost Field at the Petersen Sports Complex, that we are beginning a new chapter in Pitt Baseball history.”

A 2011 all-BIG EAST First Team Selection, Chester was drafted by the Boston Red Sox with the 1,012 overall pick. This past season, the 6-5 first baseman from Collinsville, Okla. led all conference sluggers with 16 home runs.

“David was a special player who was dedicated and consummate team player,” Jordano said. “His power is impressive and he has a good glove. Boston is a great place for him and I can see him peppering the Green Monster.  He’s a great person and I’m very happy for him.”

Chester not only provided power at the plate this spring, but also recorded the Panthers second best average (.345). In addition, Chester collected 69 hits in 200 at-bats and led the team in RBI (60), on-base percentage (.470) and putouts (530). Starting in all 56 games at first base, Chester fielded the position with a stellar .998 fielding percentage.

On March 21, Chester was named BIG EAST Player of the Week following a six game span in which he batted 10-for-23, drove in 11 runs and smashed four homers.

At the BIG EAST Championship, Chester smacked two home runs and scattered five hits in 11 at-bats.

Chester, a junior college transfer, came to Pitt following his sophomore season and made an immediate impact on the 2010 team, driving in 65 runs and garnering all-BIG EAST Third Team honors.

Despite just two years at Pitt, Chester ranks in the top-10 of several categories. His 31 career home runs are sixth all-time while his 125 RBI place him eighth.

“I’m so excited to get drafted,” Chester said following the announcement. “It’s a chance for me to continue to play baseball and look to capitalize on this great opportunity.”

Following Chester, Schultz was drafted in the 34th round with the 1,033 overall pick by the Florida Marlins. A four-year starter in the outfield, Schultz was a 2010 and 2011 all-BIG EAST Second Team Selection.

“Things were a little nerve-racking at first,” Schultz said after getting a call from the Marlins. “It’s a great honor and I look forward to continuing my career in this sport. I’m indebted forever to Pitt, the coaching staff, and especially Coach Jordano. It’s so great to see five guys on the team get drafted and it’s a testament to their hard work and dedication. I couldn’t be happier for everyone.”

In his final two seasons at Pitt, the West Lawn, Pa. native set five school records. In 2010, Schultz set the team record for runs scored (76) and walks (56). During his senior year, Schultz nabbed the top spot in three career categories, including walks (142), runs scored (184) and doubles (53).

Playing most of his collegiate career in left field, Schultz consistently ranked among the nation’s top outfielders in assists. This season alone, Schultz accumulated 10 outfield assists.

“John was one of the most efficient and productive players,” Jordano said of Schultz. “He deserves this opportunity and I know he will have a great pro career.”

Whitmore became the fifth Panther to be drafted this season when he was selected by the San Diego Padres with the 1,073 overall pick.

This season, Whitmore played in all 56 games, including 55 starts at second base. He batted .336 and led the team in at-bats (211), stolen bases (12) and sacrifice flies (9). The Burlington, Iowa native added four home runs and 41 RBI while tying for second on the team with 71 hits.

“Travis is a very talented player and will do a great job at the next level.” Jordano added. “I believe he is versatile enough to play a few different positions and that adds to his value.”

Whitmore went on a tear in mid-March, hitting .375 with two home runs and nine RBI in a six-game stretch. He registered at least one hit in all six games, highlighted by a 2-for-5 performance against Central Michigan in which the left-handed hitter blasted a grand slam en route to a 19-2 rout over the Chippewas. The spectacular week earned Whitmore BIG EAST Player of the Week accolades.

Also a junior college transfer, Whitmore helped lead the Panthers to the BIG EAST Championship in consecutive years. During his first season at Pitt, Whitmore hit six triples, ranking fourth all-time on the single season list.

Whitmore finished his two-year career at Pitt with 10 triples, ranking third all-time.

Baker became the sixth player drafted when the St. Louis Cardinals selected him in the 49th round with the 1,490th pick.

Pitt’s all-time wins leader, Baker amassed 24 wins over his four seasons on the mound.

A New City, N.Y. native, Baker earned all-BIG EAST First Team Honors as a junior, leading the conference – and ranking third in the country – with 11 regular season victories.

A right-handed pitcher, Baker started the second most games in school history (49) and is tied for the school record in appearances (64). He ranks fourth all-time in strikeouts (221).

“As the all time wins leader at Pitt, it’s a perfect way to cap a solid career for Corey,” Jordano concluded. “We could not be more pleased for him.” 


Baseball Sets School Record for Most Draft Picks in a Season

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