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Tuesday, June 7, 2005

DiPIETRO SIXTH-ROUND PICK OF KANSAS CITY ROYALS
All-America lefty pitcher 172nd player chosen in First-Year Player Draft

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – L eft-handed pitcher Ryan DiPietro (KENSINGTON) was selected by the Kansas City Royals Tuesday in the sixth round of the 2005 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound DiPietro, 20, was the  Royals’ sixth selection, 172nd player chosen overall  in the 41st annual amateur draft. He was the organization’s second pitcher chosen, first lefty. He recently completed his junior season at Eastern.

As  was forecast  in the pre-season by Baseball America magazine, DiPietro was the first player chosen from the Division III ranks. The pre-season Division III national Player-of-the-Year was also the third New England native and third player taken from a New England college.

DiPietro said Kansas City was among a handful of teams which showed the most interest throughout his career, and that he was asked to work out by the Boston Red Sox last week at FenwayPark. DiPietro was drafted on the recommendation of  Royals’ regional scout Steve Connelly of Massapequa, NY and was supposed to meet with Kansas City officials Wednesday in order to sign a contract.

Team officials informed DiPietro that he would likely be assigned to one of their Class A affiliates either in Burlington, IA (Midwest League) or Wilmington, DE (Carolina League). Former major league left-handed pitcher Tom Burgmeier is the current pitching coach at Burlington.

Following his senior year at Berlin High School in 2002, DiPietro was drafted in the 42nd round by the New York Mets but instead opted to attend Eastern, where he has led the Warriors to a record of 116-33 the last three years, three Little East Conference regular-season and two conference tournament titles, two New England championships and finishes of third (2003) and second  (2004) in the national tournament. This year’s team finished 30-13 after being eliminated in the conference tournament.

 DiPietro said that he did not seriously consider signing with the Mets out of high school, preferring instead to develop first at the college level. “I learned how to pitch in college. And pitching for a winning program at Eastern helped my visibility,” noted DiPietro, who explained that he never felt undue pressure to excel despite the high expectations and pre-season hype the last two years. “You can’t let the pressure both you,” he said. “You just have to go out and have fun. The pressure didn’t bother me at all.”

Each of the last two summers, DiPietro also pitched with the Manchester (CT) Silkworms of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), an NCAA-sanctioned  wooden bat league. Facing many of the country’s premier college hitters, DiPietro was 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 96 2/3 inning in two seasons. Last summer, he was named to the NECBL All-Star Game and was the winning pitcher.

Prior to selecting DiPietro, Kansas City chose third baseman Alex Gordon of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with the  second overall pick, Pennsylvania high school shortstop Jeffrey Bianchi (50th overall), UC-Irvine right-handed pitcher Chris Nicoll (82nd overall), California high school outfielder Joe Dickerson (112th overall) and Franklin Pierce (NH) College’s Shawn Hayes.(142nd), a left-handed hitting junior shortstop from Charlton, MA. Besides Hayes, the only other New England native or player taken from a New England college ahead of DiPietro was right-handed pitcher Matt Torra of Pittsfield, MA and the University of Massachusetts. Torra was tabbed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 31st overall selection.

This year,  DiPietro repeated as an ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III All-America, NEIBA New England Division III, NCBWA New England and Little East Conference Pitcher-of-the-Year.  He was a second-team All-America this year after earning a spot on the first team as a sophomore in 2003, when he shared NCBWA national Pitcher-of-the-Year honors in leading Eastern to a spot in the national championship game.

This past spring, DiPietro was 8-1 with a 1.66 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings, pitched a six-inning no-hitter and pitched seven perfect innings in combining on a no-hitter. Five times he struck out at least ten batters in a game – including ten or more in his final four starts. He struck out a  season-high 15 against just one walk in the combined no-hitter against Westfield State College in the northern-opener. He  led Eastern’s staff in wins, innings and strikeouts and starters in ERA for the second straight year and in wins and strikeouts for the third straight year.

 

He is currently ranked 12th nationally in Division III in strikeouts per game (11.4), 25th in wins and 30th in ERA.

Through three years, DiPietro has won 29 of 32 decisions with 336 strikeouts and 81 walks and a 1.50 ERA in 257 1/3 innings. He ranks fourth all-time at Eastern in wins, second in strikeouts, fourth in ERA and seventh in innings.

If he signs a contract, DiPietro will becomes the program’s 28th professional baseball signee since 1974 and seventh player chosen in the first ten rounds of the draft. Other Eastern players selected in the top ten rounds were right-handed pitcher Scott Chiasson (fifth round, Kansas City) in 1998, outfielder Barrymore Greaves (eighth round, Seattle) in 1985, right-handed pitcher Jeff Brewer (tenth round, Chicago Cubs) in 1983, left-handed pitcher Scott Budner (sixth round, San Francisco) in 1977, shortstop Mike Turgeon (sixth round, Chicago Cubs) in 1977 and right-handed pitcher John Caneira (first round, secondary phase, Anaheim Angels) in 1974. Chiasson and Caneira reached the major leagues, the former as a member of the Chicago Cubs.