While one current WPIAL pitcher might be taken in the first five rounds of the Major League Baseball draft, a former WPIAL pitcher is projected to possibly go in the first seven or eight rounds.
Blackhawk's Brendan McKay is the current WPIAL pitcher who could go early in the draft that begins Thursday. A little birdie told me that one team had him ranked as a second- or third-round pick. But that doesn't mean he will definitely go that high.
The former pitcher who has attracted the attention of scouts and gained national acclaim is Dan Altavilla, a junior at Mercyhurst University and a former star at Elizabeth Forward High School. Baseball America ranks Altavilla as the No. 202 player for the draft, which means he would go in the seventh round. McKay is the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania, for high school or college.
Altavilla had a superb season for the Mercyhurst Lakers and he won numerous national honors. Mercyhurst just announced today that Altavilla has been selected the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division II National Pitcher of the Year. He also was named a first-team All-American by ABCA/Rawlings and is a semifinalist for the Josh Willingham Award, given to Division II's Most Valuable Player.
Altavilla also won the Daktronics' Ron Lenz Division II Pitcher of the Year and was a first-team All-American by Daktronics and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Last week, he was named a first-team Capital One Academic All-American. He has a 3.70 grade average in sports medicine and pre physical therapy.
Altavilla, 5-foot-11, 200-pound right-hander, had a season to remember. He was 9-1 and led NCAA Division II with five shutouts. He had a 1.23 ERA in 12 starts and struck out 129 in 80 1/3 innings. Opponents hit only .167 against him.
Altavilla struck out 19 batters in one game against West Chester in 7 2/3 innings in the PSAC tournament. The 19 strikeouts broke a 99-year-old PSAC record held by Shippensburg's Clyde Mellinger. I didn't even know they kept statistics back in 1915. Altavilla also had a no-hitter this year against Clarion.
It was only three years ago that Altavilla was starring for Elizabeth Forward and led the Warriors to a WPIAL Class AAA title with an undefeated record. He was the Post-Gazette Player of the Year in 2011 after going 11-1 with eight shutouts. He had a 0.55 ERA and allowed only 30 hits in 77 innings while striking out 111. He also was a standout hitter with a .450 batting average and six home runs.
That year, Elizabeth Forward finished 23-1, losing to Northern York in the PIAA semifinals.