Pirates sign #1 pick Pedro Alvarez

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced they have agreed to terms with third baseman Pedro Alvarez, the club's firstround selection (second overall) in the 2008 June draft.

Alvarez, 21, is considered the top prospect in this year's draft by many industry publications. Baseball America ranked Alvarez as the top prospect in its 2008 Draft Preview Edition's Top 200 List. It also ranked the left-handed hitting third baseman as the "Best Power Hitter" among college players.

"Pedro Alvarez is an accomplished college hitter with the potential to be a middle of the order bat at the major league level for us. Equally important, he is a quality young man who comes from a very strong family. We appreciate their trust in the Pirates organization," said Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. "Pedro is a high-end talent. We are excited to add him to our system and about the potential impact he can have."

The 6'2", 225-pound Alvarez hit .329 with a school record 22 home runs and 64 RBI in his first year at Vanderbilt while being named the Southeast Conference Freshman-of-the-Year and the National Freshman-of-the-Year by numerous industry outlets, including Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and Rivals.com. As a sophomore Alvarez hit .386 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI while being named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, Rivals.com and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Alvarez was also named the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player after hitting .542 in the tournament.

In 40 games with Vanderbilt University during his junior season, Alvarez batted .317 with 15 doubles, nine home runs and 30 RBI in 167 at bats. Despite missing 23 games during the season with a broken hamate bone in his right hand, Alvarez tied the all-time school career home run record with 49.

Pedro was also selected to the USA National Team twice during his collegiate career. In 2006, he captured the Gold Medal in the FISU World Championship by leading the team with a .379 average to go along with five home runs, 12 doubles and 43 RBI in 31 games. In 2007, Alvarez led Team USA in batting average (.315), hits (40), home runs (7), RBI (30), total bases (70) and slugging percentage (.551), while winning the Silver Medal at the Pan Am Games and finishing third at the World Port Tournament.

"Bob Nutting has made a commitment to provide the club with the tools and resources necessary to return the Pirates to the greatness that this organization has achieved so often in its rich history. He has further demonstrated that commitment by his active involvement throughout this process and by providing us with the significant dollars necessary to sign Pedro Alvarez," said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. "We had to reach to sign Pedro and Bob was fully supportive of our decision that this was the right player with whom to reach. Adding a player of Pedro's ability to our core group of young players is an important step in reaching our goal of building a championship organization. We greatly appreciate the faith that Pedro and his family have placed in the Pirates organization and we look forward to seeing Pedro in a Pirates uniform in the near future."

One of the top baseball prospects in the nation at Horace Mann High School in New York, Alvarez was the Gatorade and Louisville Slugger New York High School Player-of-the-Year in 2005. He helped lead Horace Mann to the 2004 Ivy League Championship and holds the school and career records in batting average, home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, walks and on-base percentage.

After his distinguished high school career, Alvarez was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 14th round of the 2005 First Year Player Draft but decided to pursue his education at Vanderbilt University.

The Pirates weren't able to come to terms with right-handed pitcher Tanner Scheppers out of Fresno State who was selected in the second round of the draft.

"We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement with our second-round selection Tanner Scheppers, but we knew when we selected Tanner that we might not be in a position to sign him by the August 15 deadline.

"Despite the quality efforts of both parties, it became clear that Tanner's financial expectations were not in line with the risks presented by Tanner's current status as a pitcher in the early stages of a rehabilitation program following an injury to his throwing shoulder.

"Unfortunately, Tanner's rehabilitation program timeline changed dramatically from what his representative presented to us prior to the draft. Had Tanner been able to demonstrate that he was fully recovered from the injury he suffered towards the end of his 2008 season at Fresno State, we are confident that we could have found common ground on the economic terms of a contract. "We were willing to take the risk involved in selecting Tanner for two reasons. First, a club that is unable to sign its second-round selection now receives "same slot" compensation in the next draft. Second, we made the strategic decision to select several players with early round talent later in the draft regardless of their signability.

As a result of this decision, we were able to sign two players, Robbie Grossman and Quinton Miller, each of whom received strong consideration with our second round selection."

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