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Pirates grab UNLV righty with live fastball

Taken by the Pirates with the 209th overall pick, UNLV right-hander Buddy Borden had a breakout season in 2013 and shared Mountain West Pitcher of the Year honors with Nevada righty Braden Shipley, who was picked by the Diamondbacks at No. 15. Borden doesn't have Shipley's upside, but he has also caught the attention of scouts.

His fastball in the low 90s and has been clocked as high as 96 mph. Borden also throws a curveball and a changeup, both of which have the potential to be Major League-average offerings.

The Pirates had him on their radar before the season, but a strong 2013 only affirmed their interest. Borden went 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 100 2/3 innings for the Rebels.

"Some of the good things he did this year reinforced our value on him," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

Borden's improvement came after he refined his command this season. He pitches with confidence and trusts his stuff, even in the hitter-friendly high-altitude environment of Las Vegas.

"The most important part of the Draft is what we believe they're going to do," Huntington said. "He gives us the attributes that believe he's going to continue that success when he gets in our development system."

Steve Petrella is an associate reporter for
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