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Pittsburgh pirates Young from Princeton

By Allan Simpson

Tuesday, August 29

The Pirates scored one of the biggest signing coups of this year's draft, agreeing to terms with righthander Chris Young, their third-round pick. The deal is expected to be finalized within the next couple of days.

The 6-foot-11 Young, a standout baseball/basketball player at Princeton, was rated one of the top athletes in the draft but was considered a risky selection because of his prowess on the basketball court and his commitment to an Ivy League education.

But Young pitched exceptionally well in the Cape Cod League this summer, going 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 53 innings for Chatham. He was selected the league's fifth-best professional prospect in a Baseball America poll of the league's coaches and also was a first-team selection on BA's summer league All-America team.

"He did exactly what we wanted to see him do against good competition this summer," said Pirates scouting director Mickey White. "His signing is a reflection of the dedication he showed to making himself a top pitcher."

The Pirates would not disclose Young's signing bonus, only to say that it was in the same range as first-round pick Sean Burnett, who signed for $1.65 million. Because of Young's dual-sport status, the Pirates exercised the right to spread the bonus payment over a five-year period.

Young was an all-conference basketball player his first two years at Princeton but his contract with the Pirates forbids him from continuing to play college basketball. Ivy League rules also forbid a player from competing in a sport if the player is a professional in a second sport.

But the Pirates have allowed Young, who was eligible for the draft as 21-year-old sophomore, to complete his junior year at Princeton before he officially reports to the Pirates. He will attend the Pirates instructional league camp in Bradenton, Fla., before he returns to Princeton in mid-September and he'll spend another week in instructional league during fall break near the end of October.

In two years at Princeton, Young went a combined 9-1, 1.64 with 87 strikeouts in 74 innings. He reported late to baseball both years because of basketball.

Young's two-sport status gave him the leverage necessary to command an unusally high bonus for a third-round pick. The draft's most celebrated two-sport star, former Stanford quarterback Joe Borchard, signed with the White Sox for a draft record $5.3 million.

Young's athleticism was a definite selling point for the Pirates.

"As a general rule," White said, "I'm not one that likes big pitchers because they aren't normally as coordinated, but he's such a good athlete that it was less of a concern."

With Young's signing, the Pirates concluded a hectic week that also saw them sign fifth-round pick Jason Sharber as he was scheduled to enroll at Vanderbilt, and 25th-round pick Nate McLouth, just as he was to begin classes at Michigan. Sharber, who signed for $500,000, was the top-rated high school player from Tennessee last spring, McLouth the top-rated player from Michigan.

The Pirates signed nine of their first 10 picks, missing only on fourth-round pick Patrick Boyd who returned to Clemson for his senior year.

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