Chatsworth High senior Rich Aude, a second-round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the June 5 amateur baseball draft, is expected to sign a contract for a bonus package worth more than $80,000.
"I can't wait to get started," said Aude, who will meet tonight with Pirate scout Bob Zuk to sign.
Aude, 17, probably will be assigned to either Bradenton (Fla.) of the Gulf Coast Rookie League or Princeton (W. Va.) of the Appalachian Rookie League.
"I think I'll do well once I get used to the wood bats," said Aude who batted .455, hit six home runs and led Valley-area City Section players with 39 runs batted in this season. He also stole 16 bases.
Aude, a 6-foot-5, 185-pound third baseman, had signed a letter of intent with UC Santa Barbara. He was drafted higher than any player in Chatsworth history; outfielder Dwight Evans was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round of the draft in 1969.
Aude played a little more than two seasons of varsity baseball at Chatsworth but did not catch the attention of professional scouts until last fall.
As a sophomore, Aude was called up from the junior varsity for the City Section playoffs. He started at second base when a Chatsworth regular failed to show up for a pregame meeting and singled home a run in his first at-bat.
As a junior, Aude batted .286 as the Chancellors' designated-hitter and alternated at second base with Vince Simili.
However, over the summer and during the fall, he grew from 6-1 to 6-5.
While Aude was gaining strength, he also gained experience playing for a winter-league team run by Chatsworth Coach Bob Lofrano that featured many of the Valley-area's most talented high school players.