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Pirates All 40: Colin Selby Beat The Odds to Reach Big Leagues

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Colin Selby

This is one in a series of stories breaking down members of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 40-man roster.

When you think college baseball, there are probably a handful of schools that come to mind. Places like Vanderbilt, Virginia, LSU and other big-time programs have developed reputations as MLB factories.

Randolph-Macon College, a small private school located in Ashland, Virginia, probably wouldn’t be what you think of as a place that serves as a pipeline for producing major league talent. You’d be right.

Prior to 2023, only two players in MLB history hailed from Randolph-Macon. Frank Walker appeared in 139 games with three teams between 1917-25. Paul Gilliford made two appearances out of the Baltimore Orioles’ bullpen in 1967.

It had been a while since a Yellow Jacket reached the big leagues, but 56 years after Gilliford last pitched for the Orioles, Colin Selby made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The debut capped off an unusual path to reaching the major leagues. Selby made his first-career appearance on Aug. 9 against the mighty Atlanta Braves at PNC Park. He held his own in the contest. Selby blanked Atlanta over 1.2 innings pitched, and he recorded the first three strikeouts of his career.

Less than a week later, Selby was awarded his first-career win in the Pirates’ 7-4 victory over the New York Mets.

While the 26-year-old showed flashes at times, he finished the season with a lackluster 9.00 ERA in 21 appearances. His 4.80 FIP indicates he was more effective than that and bodes better for his projectability. In 24 total innings, Selby allowed 29 hits, walked 15 and struck out 30.

The Pirates utilized Selby in a variety of roles during the 2023 season. He made five appearances as an opener at the beginning of games. It was in this role that the right-hander was at his best. In those five starts, Selby pitched to a 4.50 ERA.

Selby was also used at the end of games and recorded the final out on three occasions. The other 13 appearances for him on the year came in a traditional relief role.

With a host of right-handed relievers currently on the 40-man roster, Selby’s status is a bit unclear. There’s no doubt that he has a live arm. Selby features a power fastball and a slider capable of missing bats. Trouble harnessing it all has been what’s plagued him.

While what the future might hold for Selby remains to be seen, there’s no doubt that he overcame the odds in making it this far.

“I think it’s more of if you have the tools and the ability that they’ll find you and that at the end of the day, (younger players) do need to go to a place that you can play and not just go to a school because it’s the name of the school,” Selby said after making his debut.

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