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July 9, 2014

Under the leadership of head coach Joe Jordano, 53 Panthers have gone on to sign professional baseball contracts. Over Pitt baseball’s history, 85 players have signed overall. This year, three Panthers were taken in Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. Here’s an update on Pitt baseball’s active contributions to the professional ranks:

Corey Baker: In 18 games (one start) with the Palm Beach Cardinals this season, Baker has garnered a 3-1 record with an impressive 1.68 ERA. Baker’s most recent outing with St. Louis’ High-A affiliate came on July 4, when he matched a season high of 5.0 innings pitched and allowed no runs on two hits. He has attacked the strike zone all season long, tallying 34 strikeouts to only eight walks in 48.1 innings overall in 2014.

David Chester: The Red Sox first base prospect was promoted from Boston’s High-A squad to their AA affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs, at the beginning of June. He found immediate success, batting .304 with 13 RBI in as many games over his first month. Chester has remained strong in July, posting a .299 average to date, and has now hit safely in 15 of the 19 games following his promotion.

Luke Curtis: Curtis struck out five batters in 4.1 innings of work for Milwaukee’s rookie-level affiliate, the Helena Brewers. The former Panther made five appearances in Pioneer League action, and earned two saves before being moved to A ball.

Joseph Harvey: Splitting his time between the Gulf Coast League and New York-Penn League affiliates for the New York Yankees, Harvey has pitched four innings over four appearances. The right-hander has been charged with only one earned run to date, and has racked up five strikeouts.

Joe Leonard: The Atlanta Braves promoted Leonard from their AA to AAA affiliate at the beginning of June, and the third base prospect responded by hitting safely in eight of his first 11 games. Leonard departed the Southern League with the promotion, where he was named the league’s top defensive third baseman in 2012.

Ethan Mildren:  Since the Midwest League All-Star break, Mildren has posted a 1.42 ERA in three starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In his two most recent starts, the former Pitt hurler went seven shutout innings in back-to-back outings for the Minnesota Twins’ single-A affiliate, allowing only seven hits combined. He is 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA as a starter on the year after going 3-2 over his last six starts and has since been moved to High-A.

Kevan Smith: Beginning this season with a promotion to the Chicago White Sox’s AA affiliate, the Birmingham Barons, Smith has been highly productive offensively. In 65 games for the Barons this year, the catcher has posted a .305 average with 36 RBI. He’s opening play in July on a hot streak, hitting safely in all five games while batting .347 (8-for-23) on the young month.

Elvin Soto: The former Pitt backstop is batting .328 with nine RBI in 15 games this season for the Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League. Five of those 15 games have been multi-hit affairs for the Arizona Diamondbacks prospect, with two 4-for-5 performances mixed in. Impressively, he has found a balance of home and road success by going 10-for-28 (.357) in the Hops’ ballpark and 9-for-30 (.300) away from home.

Matt Wotherspoon: Wotherspoon has allowed only three earned runs in six appearances to date for the Staten Island Yankees. In his 9.1 innings of work so far in the New York-Penn League, the Yankees prospect has a 1-1 record with a 2.89 ERA, while allowing only six hits and recording the same number of strikeouts.

Casey Roche: Since signing with the independent Traverse City Beach Bums in June, Roche has provided a steadying defensive presence in the outfield, maintaining a 1.000 fielding percentage.  In his limited plate appearances, he has contributed one double and two RBI.

Update: Panthers in the Pros Status Check

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