Pirates sign Belarussian pitcher

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Add another flag to the United Nations consulate that has become the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Club officials announced that they indeed have signed the first Belarusian to a major-league contract, 16-year-old, right-handed pitcher Aleksey Lukashevich of Brest Zubrs' baseball and softball club.

Lukashevich, 6 foot 4 and just 160 pounds, is from Brest, Belarus. He just turned 16 on June 1, and his contract is for the 2011 season, so he is expected to begin play with Bradenton of the Gulf Coast League next summer. He is currently in Bradenton touring Pirate City and taking physical examinations, among other things.

Lukashevich was a 2009 invitee to the Major League Baseball European Academy in Italy, where the Pirates also mined second baseman Gift Ngoepe of short-season State College by way of South Africa.

A team for years noted for little international activity, the Pirates now have 14 signees the past three years from Belarus, South Africa, Lithuania (pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas), India (pitchers Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh), Taiwan (first baseman Chih-Wei Hsu, outfielder Ping-Hung Chi and pitcher Sheng-Cin Hong), Australia (catcher Dylan Child, pitcher Mitchell Fienemann and pitcher Jarryd Sullivan), the Netherlands (first baseman Daan Cornelissen) and Colombia (shortstop Jonathan Barrios).

All listed in the above paragraph are playing this summer for GCL Bradenton, except for Fienemann -- who is with Ngoepe in State College.

Another Australian pitcher, Wilson Lee, is playing this summer with the major-league's Australian Academy.

In other news: The West Virginia Power made it official, announcing their player-development agreement with the Pirates runs through 2014.

Chuck Finder: cfinder@post-gazette.com . Find more online at PBC Blog .


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