Prep Baseball & Softball

Former Alton catcher drafted by Pittsburgh Pirates; other locals await calls

Former Alton High catcher Brent Gibbs, shown here playing with Central Arizona Junior College this season, was drafted in the seventh round Friday by the Pittsburgh Pirates
Former Alton High catcher Brent Gibbs, shown here playing with Central Arizona Junior College this season, was drafted in the seventh round Friday by the Pittsburgh Pirates

Former Alton High catcher Brent Gibbs, a sophomore at Central Arizona Junior College, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball Draft on Friday.

Gibbs’ selection at No. 225 overall gives Alton High two high draft picks in the last two drafts. Former Alton left-hander Bryan Hudson went to the Chicago Cubs in the third round last spring following his senior year with the Redbirds.

A transfer from Indiana University, Gibbs hit .396 this spring for Central Arizona with 11 doubles, five home runs and 38 RBIs in 48 games. He has signed with USC, but also has the option to sign with the Pirates and begin his pro career.

“I was working as hard as I ever worked because things didn’t work out my way at Indiana,” Gibbs said. “I put a chip on my shoulder and going out there to Arizona helped me out a lot and gave me a lot of exposure. I went out there not knowing a single person. I just threw myself out there and did what I could on and off the field and it paid off.”

I was working as hard as I ever worked because things didn’t work out my way at Indiana. I put a chip on my shoulder and going out there to Arizona helped me out a lot and gave me a lot of exposure.

Former Alton High catcher Brent Gibbs

Gibbs also threw out 14 of the 30 base-runners trying to steal against him this season. He signed with USC last October, but said he is definitely leaning toward signing with the Pirates.

“I’m leaning to the pro ball side of it,” he said. “That’s what I think I’m probably going to do.”

Gibbs said he recently worked out for the Cubs at Wrigley Field and also went to a pro workout in California. He didn’t start watching the draft at his home in Godfrey until the fifth round, surrounded by parents Shane Gibbs and Mary Liles and other family and friends.

“It’s crazy how they worked out,” Brent Gibbs said. “(The Pirates) called me two picks before they had the pick and asked me and I said ‘I’m in.’

It’s something else, for sure.”’

Alton coach Todd Haug said Gibbs had been working out with him recently and noticed a big difference from the player he remembered in high school.

“All he needed was some playing time,” Haug said. “From an 18-year-old kid to where he’s at now, he’s turned into a man. He’s so much more mature and has a very level head on his shoulders. As he’s gone through this process he’s been keeping things in perspective.”

Haug said Gibbs always had a strong arm, but has improved many other aspects of his catching skills.

“He has gotten much quicker,” Haug said. “He receives the ball tremendously well and we’ve seen that as he has been working out with us the last few weeks. We saw how much better he moved and now not only is his arm an absolute cannon, but he’s also got the quick feet to go along with it.”

Haug said Hudson is headed to the Cubs’ Class A Northwest League club, the Eugene Emeralds in Eugene, Ore. Haug also said Hudson has gained 30 pounds since last season while raising his velocity into the mid-90 mph range at times.

Among the other metro-east players expected to be drafted this weekend are Waterloo High senior outfielder and Arkansas recruit Jordan McFarland, Parkland College freshman right-hander and Belleville East graduate Brady Schanuel and Waterloo High senior pitcher and Missouri State recruit Tyler McAlister.

McFarland had interest from several teams and was flown out to Washington last week to work out in front of Nationals front-office personnel.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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