Publish date:

SI, Nov. 17, 2008 Update


IF IT was not before, it is now official: The Pittsburgh Pirates are desperate for pitching. Baseball's most moribund franchise (the Bucs have had 16 straight losing seasons) had a team ERA of 5.08 last year, the worst in the National League by a third of a run. Their quest for young arms led them earlier this month to Tempe, Ariz., where the two top finishers on the Indian reality show Million Dollar Arm—Dinesh Patel, 19, and Rinku Singh, 20—were on display for 30 major league scouts. Neither Patel nor Singh has ever played in a competitive game; they are javelin throwers. No matter. Pittsburgh came away with both of them.

The signing bonuses were reportedly less than $10,000 each, so the Pirates are risking little. As for the first prospects ever to be signed out of India, who knows? Patel, a righty, has hit 93 miles per hour, while the southpaw Singh throws in the mid-80s and has an impressive physique: He's 6'2", 195 pounds. "The Pirates are pleased to not only add two prospects to our system but also hope to open a pathway to an untapped market," said G.M. Neal Huntington, dreaming dreams, perhaps, of a country of one billion, all of whom could use some Pirates paraphernalia.



BIG BUCS Patel (left) and Singh got minor league deals.