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Bucs tab righty Kozikowski in Round 8

At a lanky 6-foot-3, Neil Kozikowski has a big frame with plenty of room to grow.

The Pirates made Kozikowski, out of Avon Old Farms School (Conn.), their eighth-round pick Friday and the 239th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft.

"I think there's a lot of upside for him, he's long and lean with an easy delivery," Avon coach Rob Dowling said. "I've seen him hit 92 mph with minimal effort."

Dowling said his former player, who turned 18 at the end of May, has a frame with plenty of room for growth, and professionals who specialize in developing young talent have a great product to work with.

Kozikowski, a Virginia Commonwealth signee, has a fastball that sits in the high 80s and touches the low 90s.

He signed early with VCU, and Dowling said Kozikowski has a difficult but exciting decision to make regarding his future.

"Really, there's no wrong decision," Dowling said. "Hopefully the scouts will speak to him honestly. This kid is an incredibly dedicated athlete."

Steve Petrella is an associate reporter for

Pittsburgh Pirates