June 30, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball team had one of their worst nightmares come true over the weekend as they lost their highly touted catching recruit to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Head coach Mark O'Brien received word over the weekend that left-handed hitting catcher Steve LeRud, who was taken with the 75th overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft, had signed a professional contract with the Pirates and will not be attending Santa Clara in the Fall.
LeRud, who broke former San Francisco Giants star Matt Williams' Nevada high school home run record, was one of the top signees for the Broncos in 2003 and was expected to come in a have an immediate impact.
"It is somewhat disappointing for us because of what we knew Steve could accomplish during his time here at Santa Clara," said O'Brien. "However, we respect his decision and wish him well as he goes on to play at the next level."
During his first three years Galena High School in Galena, Nevada, Lerud has a .509 batting average with 39 home runs, 37 doubles, three triples and 133 runs batted in. He played for the Giants Area Code team and was selected to be a part of the Area Code Goodwill Series Team that traveled to Japan in June 2002.
The Broncos signed him to a National Letter of Intent on November 14, 2002, when he was ranked at the 253-best prospect in the country. His stock rose during his senior year as he continued to impress scouts with his power at the plate. He was the ninth catcher overall taken in the MLB draft on June 3 and the third high school catcher taken overall.