The two 20-year-old pitchers, neither of whom had picked up a baseball until earlier this year, signed free-agent contracts Monday with the Pirates. They are believed to be the first athletes from India to sign professional sports contracts outside their country.
Singh and Patel came to the United States six months ago after being the top finishers in an Indian reality TV show called the "Million Dollar Arm" that drew about 30,000 contestants. The show sought to find athletes who could throw strikes at 85 miles per hour or faster.
While neither pitcher threw hard enough to earn the $1 million prize, Singh made $100,000 from the contest and Patel made $2,500, plus his trip to the United States.
The show was sponsored by a sports management agency, under the principle that someone in a country of India's size has to have an MLB-caliber arm. No word yet on if Patel (5-11, 185 lbs, RHP) or Singh (6-2, 195, LHP) are those players, but Patel hit 90 MPH in tryouts, while Singh topped out at 84. Neither of them have been in game situations, but they've scrimmaged against juco teams. Holy untapped markets, John.