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Diamondbacks Select Justin Bianco in MLB Draft

Bianco, who ended his season with a .583 batting average, says he's dreamt of the big leagues.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have selected senior outfielder Justin Bianco in the third-round of Major League Baseball draft.  

Like most hopefuls in the draft, Bianco logged onto the MLB draft website to watch and wait for his name.

Although he was rated one of the top players available in Pennsylvania, he admitted that he expected he would be selected somewhere in the top ten rounds, but never in his wildest imagination did he expect to be picked in the third-round by the Diamondbacks.

Not to mention that Bianco was the 93rd pick overall.

“It’s just unbelievable,” he said. “I never dreamed that I would be taken early in the third round.”

Bianco, who ended his senior season at Peters with a .583 batting average with 42 hits, 10 doubles and three home runs, said he and his parents watched the proceedings online, and was admittedly stunned when his name came up as the Diamondbacks' pick. 

“I was in shock," he said. "It is truly a blessing for me."

Shortly after his name was announced, he received a telephone call from the Arizona scouts confirming his selection.

It now sets in motion a big decision Bianco will have to make, of playing baseball at the University of Pitttsburgh (like his father and three uncles) where he has committed; or turn pro and sign a professional contract.

“It’s always been my dream to become a major leaguer," he said. "Any average person having that opportunity to be selected as high as the third round is really an opportunity. It’s a once in a lifetime chance, and I’m just going to enjoy today and we’ll see what happens within this next week when I make my final decision."  

Bianco’s coach, Joe Maize, extolled the young player’s virtues Tuesday night as the team practiced in the Peterswood Park baseball field. Bianco was conspicously absent from practice. One teammate commented, "He's probably celebrating!" 

“He’s been with me all four years. He has been in the outfield since his sophomore year,” Maize said. “We moved him to right outfield because of the strength of his throwing arm. His speed also determined his position. For whatever reason a lot of balls go out to the center right field, so we put him out there for defense.”

Maize continued, “He could play any outfield position, really.”

The coach spoke about Bianco’s determination, “He worked his tail off. He really improved his skill over the years. He has a strong work ethic and really committed to weight training. Each season I saw him become a much stronger player.”

Maize and assistant baseball Coach Rudy Pokorny cited other players from the Peters Township Indians to make to the majors.

They mentioned Chris Peters who went to Indiana University and then to the Pirates. Brian Simmons went on to the University of Michigan and moved into the majors after playing for the White Sox and the Blue Jays. Jimmy Gallagher graduated from Peters Township in 2004 and was drafted by the White Sox. Jason D’Angelo, Joe Kail and Jordan Jankowski were also selected after playing collegiately.

Maize said, “We’re thrilled for (Justin Bianco). He really stepped up into the leadership position this year as well."

His teammates and fellow co-captains Sheetz and Hancock also praised him.

“He’s a really good player,” said Hancock. “He has been going all over the U.S. palying. He does all the things you have to do to win games.”

“He deserves it,” said Sheetz. “He’s out hitting in the off season. He’s always working on being a better baseball player. We’ve been friends since we were little.”

Bianco alongside fellow Peters Township Indian Ryan Minteer, also a senior, will be honored by the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association for their play during the 2011 season. Bianco and Minteer will attend the awards banquet June 10 at the Airport Marriott, even though the event is scheduled as the same night as high school graduation.

But, next on Bianco’s list of things to do is to prepare for a rematch with Seneca Valley in the state finals on Thursday evening at North Allegheny. It’s a game that he is looking forward to, as the Peters Township Indians try to avenge in the PIAA finals.

"We wanted Seneca Valley to win their game against Cathedral Prep so we could have another crack at them,” Bianco said. “We’re going into that game looking to come out with the 'W.' We’re a better team than we showed in the finals. We plan to show that this time.”

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