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Preacher's Kid Gets Picked

June 7, 2005
By John Perrotto

PITTSBURGH--Andrew McCutchen, son of a preacher man, decided to put his draft fate in the hands of a higher power.

As McCutchen got ready to go to bed Monday night at his home in Fort Meade, Fla., he said a prayer in advance of Tuesday’s first-year player draft.

"I’m a religious person and I asked God to let me get drafted by whatever team He thought was best for me," McCutchen said.

McCutchen wound up being taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round with the 11th overall pick following a standout career as a center fielder at Fort Meade High School.

The Pirates had been high on McCutchen all spring, as area scout Rob Sidwell saw numerous Fort Meade games. They also held private workouts for McCutchen both at PNC Park and their Pirate City training facility in Bradenton, Fla.

"The Pirates showed the most interest in me out of all the teams and they made the best impression," McCutchen said. "They really stood out in my mind. They made me feel like they were the right organization for me. When it got the 11th pick and I hadn't been drafted, I was hoping they would take me and I’m very excited about it."

McCutchen, 18, hit .709-16-42 with eight doubles and three triples this past season at Fort Meade. However, McCutchen admits he faced "mediocre competition" as he played at a Class 2A school in a state that has six classifications.

The Pirates also know not to read too much into his statistics because of the level of play. However, they were more than happy that the 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-handed hitter was still on the board after some of their other targets--Asheville, N.C. high school outfielder Cameron Maybin, Cal State-Fullerton lefthander Ricky Romero and Miami third baseman Ryan Braun--had been taken.

"Andrew has great athletic ability and speed," Pirates scouting director Ed Creech said. "Beyond that, he has a big-league bat and great makeup. He is one of the guys we definitely zeroed in on this spring. We’re very happy to have him."

McCutchen had signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Florida in the fall. However, both he and the Pirates talked as if they would be able to agree to terms on a contract very quickly.

"I want to play pro ball," McCutchen said. "We’ve got to get through the negotiations but I want to play."

The Pirates also had the 11th pick last year and gave a $1.85-million signing bonus to Pine-Richland High School catcher Neil Walker.

Creech compared McCutchen to San Francisco center fielder Marquis Grissom, who is in his 17th major league season. Creech managed Grissom when he was coming up through the Montreal Expos’ farm system.

"Andrew has the same outstanding speed and ability to cover a lot of ground in center field like Grissom," Creech said. "And like Marquis, he has good power. He’s not going to be a big home run hitter but he should be able to hit his share. He also has great makeup and comes from a very good family background like Marquis did."

McCutchen’s father, Lorenzo, is a youth minister at a non-denominational church in Fort Meade and Andrew sings in the choir. In addition to singing, the younger McCutchen dabbles in poetry.

"We studied poetry in middle school and one of our class assignments was to write a poem," McCutchen said. "The teacher thought I had some promise and it’s been something I’ve done ever since. I really enjoy it."

The Pirates are hoping McCutchen becomes poetry in motion as he makes his way through their farm system.

"I hate to put a timetable on when he’ll get to the major leagues," Creech said. "Hopefully, we’ll get him signed, start him off in the Gulf Coast League and then have him move one level a year until he reaches the major leagues."

"Anyone who has the kind of speed Andrew has is always an interesting prospect," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "Speed plays well on both sides of the ball. You can’t take your bat into the field and you can’t take your glove to the plate, but speed helps you both ways."

PITTBURGERS

• The Pirates, in a sharp departure from many past drafts, selected college players in the next 12 rounds after taking McCutchen in the first round.

• The Pirates went for power in the early rounds, trying to add something that has been severely lacking in their organization in recent years. Sixth-round pick Cameron Blair hit 17 homers at Texas Tech this year while eighth-round Steve Pearce homered 21 times for South Carolina.;

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