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Alessandro Ercolani (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Pittsburgh Pirates sign Team Italy pitcher Alessandro Ercolani

Following in the footsteps of former Italian Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Claudio Scotti, who also trained under late and great Team Italy pitching coach Bill Holmberg and signed with the Bucs franchise in 2016, 16-year-old Azzurrini pitcher Alessandro Ercolani is headed to the Pirate City state-of-the-art training facility in Bradenton, Florida next month to begin his MLB journey.

Among the 30-plus high school-aged amateur players from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America invited to participate in 2019 MLB College Showcase in Arizona, Alessandro Ercolani tipped off scouts when he struck out Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson on three pitches. The Detroit Tigers later selected Spencer Torkelson as their number one pick in the 2020 MLB draft and signed him for $8,416,300--the highest signing bonus awarded in MLB draft history. As a result, former Team Italy U15 pitcher Alessandro Ercolani would register on the international MLB scouting radar for some time.

Pittsburgh Pirates Europe/Africa scout Tom Gillespie has been watching San Marino resident and Team Italy pitcher Alessandro Ercolani for over two years. At the press conference held at the San Marino Olympic Committee Headquarters, he spoke to the local media about the signing of the promising prospect. Tom Gillespie said, "We liked his motivation, his stubbornness, his way of facing and overcoming challenges. The next step is to mentally grow and improve his throwing repertoire." Also present at the official signing ceremony was San Marino Baseball Softball Federation President Enea Ercolani, Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball Vice President Gigi Mignola, San Marino Olympic Committee President Gian Primo Giardi, Sport Secretary Teodoro Lonfernini, World Baseball Softball Confederation Treasurer Angelo Vicini, and Alberto Antolini.

Alessandro Ercolani is the first player from San Marino ever to be signed by MLB. He said, "It's a dream come true, this signing makes me proud of the work I've done. I expect a high level of play in America. The goal will be to be able to improve myself and make the leap in quality to face ever higher levels." Alessandro Ercolani made his Serie A1 pitching debut in 2020 with San Marino Baseball. During the regular season, he threw a total of 6.2 innings with 11 strikeouts, seven walks and four earned runs. Alessandro Ercolani also pitched one perfect inning in the 2020 Italian Baseball Series Championship against UnipolSai Bologna.

Equipped with a fastball that can reach 91 mph as well as a curve and changeup in the mid-70s, Alessandro Ercolani has excellent arm speed. Coupled with his 6'2" height and 175 pound frame, he has the potential to increase his velocity as he continues to grow and strengthen. The future is looking bright for Alessandro Ercolani. Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti

Lorenzo Morresi and Alessandro Ercolani represent Team Italy at MLB College Showcase in Arizona