3 Panthers picked in MLB draft

The Baltimore Orioles selected junior pitcher Dan Hammer (18) in the 13th round of the MLB draft.

Three Panthers closed the book on their amateur baseball careers Wednesday. Though the first two days of the MLB draft passed without any teams drafting Pitt players, the third day of the draft saw three selected — Dan Hammer, Derek West and Connor Perry.

RHP Dan Hammer

Right-handed pitcher Dan Hammer was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 13th round of the draft and 378th overall.

After having two rough years as a first-year and a sophomore, this season seemed like the perfect time for Hammer to break out. But the Philadelphia native struggled in his junior year at Pitt. In 17 appearances this season, 13 coming as a starter, Hammer had a 6.55 ERA in 66 innings pitched.

Nonetheless, the Orioles’ scouts see the upside and undeniable talent in Hammer, as he struck out 80 batters in those 66 innings.

This was the first year since Hammer became a Panther that he was eligible for the draft, and having just completed his third year of college baseball, he will still be eligible for one more season as a Panther. It looks like he plans to sign with Baltimore, though, saying in a Panthers press release he is glad to have been chosen by the Orioles.

“I feel extremely honored to have been selected by the Baltimore Orioles organization,” Hammer said. “I am very much looking forward to continuing to pursue a lifelong dream.”

RHP Derek West

Just one round after Hammer, right-handed pitcher Derek West was selected 436th overall in the 14th round by the Houston Astros. West enjoyed a nice redshirt junior campaign, leading the Panthers in strikeouts with 82 to go along with a 3.82 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched.

Hailing all the way from Orange City, Florida, West missed his first two years with the Panthers due to injuries. Even so, he was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 28th round of last year’s draft after playing just one season at Pitt. The decision to come back for another year clearly paid off, as West managed to cut his draft position nearly in half, having been chosen 832nd overall in 2018.

Like Hammer, West has another year of eligibility, but it looks like he too won’t be coming back to Pitt this time. In a post-draft statement, he thanked Pitt head baseball coach Mike Bell and pitching coach Jerry Oakes for developing his pitching skills this year.

“I am excited to see what the future has for me and what the next chapter in my life will be,” he said. “Forever a Panther.”

OF Connor Perry

Later in the day, outfielder Connor Perry was selected in the 28th round and 832nd overall by the Detroit Tigers. Arguably Pitt’s best player this year, leading the team in HR with 15 while patrolling centerfield, Perry was the final Panther to get picked in this year’s draft.

Having played high school ball just east of Pittsburgh at Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Perry was not always a member of Pitt’s baseball program. Prior to transferring in for his junior year, he played at Lackawanna Community College in Scranton for two seasons.

After a lackluster performance last season, Perry broke out in a huge way for the Panthers this year. Last season, he batted just .190 with zero HR, nine RBI and six doubles. This season, in addition to his 15 HR, Perry raised his batting average to .289 and increased his RBI and doubles total to 35 and 13, respectively.

With no years of eligibility remaining, it seems obvious that Perry would pursue a baseball career and sign with the Tigers.

“I can’t wait to start my professional career,” Perry said after the draft. “Thank you, Pittsburgh, for everything.”

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