Alessandro Ercolani becomes first San Marino citizen to sign professional baseball contract

Alessandro Ercolani becomes first San Marino citizen to sign professional baseball contract
The 17-year-old righthander will join the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league camp in early May.

Right-handed pitcher Alessandro Ercolani, born 20 April 2004, became the first player developed in the Republic of San Marino to sign for a Major League Baseball (MLB) organization, when he recently agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The historic signing generated a buzz in San Marino.

Ercolani will join the Pirates' minor league camp in Bradenton, Florida, in early May.

"I feel proud," said Ercolani during a press conference. "I understand I will have to compete at a high level."

Alessandro Maestri, the Italian pitcher who played professional baseball in the US Minor Leagues, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Mexican Baseball League (LMB) and Australian Baseball League (ABL) also began a pro career in San Marino back in 2005.

"I spoke to him," commented Ercolani. "He told me that I will have good and bad days, and that I need to control my emotions and focus on competing."

"We like what we saw on the mound," said Tom Gillespie, the Pirates' scouting coordinator for Europe and Africa. "We also liked Alessandro's attitude. We believe he can compete at the professional level."

Enea Ercolani, Alessandro's father, is the president of the San Marino Baseball Softball Federation. "I can't express how much pride I feel," he said. "It's an unbelievable accomplishment."

WBSC Treasurer Angelo Vicini is a San Marino National and was given the floor at the press conference.

"My advice to Alessandro is to consider this the starting point of a new path," Vinici said.

The Republic of San Marino has been an independent State within the Italian peninsula since the year 301. Its top baseball team competes in the Italian Baseball League (Serie A1).

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