Wild Things Sign Chartiers Valley, Utah Grad Josh LaPiana
WASHINGTON, Pa. - The Wild Things have signed their first player of the 2018-19 offseason by adding a Pittsburgh native, Josh LaPiana, to the pitching staff for 2019. The left hander is getting ready to pitch in Australia's winter league, and graduated from Utah in 2018, where he played his final three collegiate seasons.
LaPiana was a three-sport star at Chartiers Valley High School in nearby Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, as he not only starred on the baseball field, helping the Colts win two section championships on and off the mound, but was a two-year starting quarterback on the gridiron and a member of CV's basketball team before his senior year.
His senior year on the baseball field was arguably his best, as he hit .500 and was 7-1 on the hill with a sub-1.00 earned run average. LaPiana then went to the University of Akron, where he pitched one season in 2015. He was teammates with current Wild Things' pitcher James Meeker at Akron, before the school folded its baseball program at the end of that season.
LaPiana transferred to the University of Utah where he helped lead the Utes to the school's first ever Pac-12 Championship in 2016. The southpaw logged 224.2 innings in his three seasons at Utah, and punched out 148 opposing batters in that timeframe. He appeared in 48 games at Utah, and started all but 11 of those.
"We highly value Josh's experience competing in a league like the Pac-12. He has a resume full of pitching meaningful games versus the elite college programs and facing some of the best hitters in the country," said assistant general manager of baseball operations Tony Buccilli. "His senior campaign was disjointed somewhat due to Utah's needs but we believe he can be a steady contributor in our environment."
Buccilli added, "Josh is very excited to return to Western Pennsylvania to begin his professional baseball career for his hometown Minor League team. The Pittsburgh baseball community has already expressed reassurance that we are signing not only a pro-ready player, but also a pro-ready worker."
LaPiana will be the fourth player on the roster that hails from a WPIAL (PIAA District 7) school, joining outfielder Mick Fennell (Butler), infielder Ryan Cox (Hopewell) and Meeker (North Allegheny). LaPiana said he is thrilled to pitch in Pittsburgh again.
"I haven't pitched in Pittsburgh in a long time and I love my hometown," said LaPiana. "I know some of the guys on the team from growing up and playing and I'll be excited to spend time with those guys again and have Mom, Dad, family and friends come to the park and watch me the same way I came to the park when I was younger watching Wild Things' games in the past."
The process for LaPiana signing with the team dates back to the end of his collegiate career.
"Tony and I had discussions last year about maybe playing, however I had a few games late in my college career where I was going 140-150 pitches a start, so it was time to slow down and get my arm back to healthy," said LaPiana. "I had talked to him about an opportunity I'm headed to now that is playing in Australia for winter ball, and he was on board to allow me to do that. I went to Utah without them ever seeing me touch a baseball, so it was something similar here where they just signed me off word of mouth and now it's up to me to come back in good shape ready to play."
LaPiana's role isn't determined yet, but he said he'd be comfortable with anything, saying he wants to be a dominant option in whatever that role is. Ultimately, he wants to stay healthy and be ready for the whole season, in an effort to help the Wild Things continue the team's recent success.
"I know [the Wild Things] had a great year last year and were very close to winning the whole thing," said LaPiana. "I'm excited to learn from the guys that were there and what they thought made them successful and try and emulate that as best I can."
The team is expecting to announce two more signings next week, as the offseason kicks into full gear. Fans can stay updated on signings and all things Wild Things by following the team's social media accounts and website, washingtonwildthings.com.
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Frontier League Stories from October 12, 2018
- Wild Things Sign Chartiers Valley, Utah Grad Josh LaPiana - Washington Wild Things
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