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As expected, Bucs select Fla. prep standout



Published: Wed, June 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The multisport athlete had a .709 batting average this spring.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates didn't disguise this draft pick very well.

Andrew McCutchen, a Florida multi-sport athlete who could have cut his batting average in half and still had an excellent season, is the second high school position player in as many years drafted on the first round by the Pirates.

The Pirates scouted the Fort Meade (Fla.) High School standout for months and found nothing not to like, though they probably wish he were a few inches taller than 5-foot-11. He hit .709 -- yes, that's .709, not .309 -- with eight doubles, three triples and 16 homers this spring.

Pirates scouting director Ed Creech compared the No. 11 overall pick in the June amateur draft to a young Marquis Grissom.

General manager Dave Littlefield likes his combination of bat and foot speed and baseball instincts, especially for an athlete good enough to have run on a Florida state championship sprint relay team in ninth grade, and to be listed among the state's top 200 football players.

"He does have power," Littlefield said of McCutchen, whose father, Lorenzo, played football at Carson-Newman. "I don't anticipate him being a power hitter, but he does hit with authority. The bat is the key."

He began showing that while hitting .507 in his first high school season -- as an eighth grader.

Florida State offer

Despite playing on an 8-14 team that didn't make the playoffs this spring, McCutchen went 38-for-55 and had more than twice as many homers as he did strikeouts (6). He was offered a scholarship by Florida State. But with a signing bonus of close to $2 million likely awaiting him, he is all but certain to play pro baseball.

"It's a dream come true," said McCutchen, whose high school principal is such a Pittsburgh sports fan he made sure the school's colors were black and gold.

McCutchen worked out for the Pirates in PNC Park on Friday and has been linked to them for weeks. He's watched some of their recent games on television and already is referring to them as "we."

Creech expects McCutchen to develop into a high-average, occasional-power hitter like Grissom, the longtime major league outfielder whose size is nearly identical to McCutchen's. Baseball America, which heavily covers amateur baseball, rates McCutchen as the second best pure hitter and the fifth best player in the 50-round draft.

After taking pitchers on the first round for six consecutive years from 1998-2003, the Pirates again went with a high school player -- just as they did a year ago with Pittsburgh-area high school catcher Neil Walker, also the No. 11 overall pick.

Other early picks

But after the first round, the Pirates went exclusively with college players for the rest of the first 10 rounds, including several with big power numbers: Texas Tech second baseman Cameron Blair (17 homers), sixth round, and South Carolina first baseman Steven Pearce (21 homers), eighth round.

Other picks included: Second round, outfielder William Corley, 6-2, 198, Mississippi State; third, outfielder James Boone, 6-2, 175, Missouri, OF; fourth, Brent Lillibridge, 5-11, 185, Washington, SS; fifth, right-hander Jeff Sues, 6-4, 220, Vanderbilt; seventh, right-hander Justin Vaclavik, 6-0, 180, Houston; ninth, right-hander Mark Moeves, 6-3, 190, Northern Kentucky; and 10th, right-hander Derek Antelo, 6-2, 180, Nova Southeastern.




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