Archive for the 'South Africa' Category

Top African Prospects

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Myworld has yet to do a top African prospect list. With so few Africans playing in the minor leagues it was difficult finding players to make a top ten and this list only identifies 9. Now that Gift Ngoepe is noted as the first African player to make it to the major leagues myworld thought it appropriate we identify some of those players. We can’t vouch for their worthiness since we don’t really know a lot about them. This could also be called the top South African list, since all but one of the nine players are from South Africa.

1. Gift Ngoepe SS (Pirates) South Africa - He is officially noted as the first African player to make it to the major leagues. Signed in 2008 it has been a long road with lots of bus rides through minor league cities for Gift. At 27 years of age he is a bit old to be considered a prospect. His fielding is consistent but his bat is soft. His best bet is to make the team as a utility player. His minor league career average is only .232 with a .347 slugging average. Myworld does not anticpate a long major league career for Gift.

2. Demi Orimoloye OF (Brewers) Nigeria - He left Nigeria at an early age and got his baseball activity playing in Canada. Demi has speed, power and a strong throwing arm. An inability to make contact is his Achilles heel. Many thought he would be a first round pick in 2015 but he dropped to the Brewers in the fourth round because of his whiff rate. This is his first year in a full season league and the whiffs have been prevalent (29 in 24 games). This has kept his average low (.228). The power has shown with six homeruns. 12 of his 21 hits have gone for extra bases for a .500 slugging average. He has been successful in 8 of 9 stolen base attempts.

3. Dylan Unsworth RHP (Mariners) South Africa - The Mariners signed him in 2009. Not an overpowering pitcher, he will rely on location and his breaking pitches to get hitters out. Dylan has been the face of the South African team, pitching for them since 2008 when he played for them in the World Junior Championships. At 16 years of age he pitched for South Africa in the baseball world cup and the 2012 and 2016 WBC qualifier teams. Dylan started the season in AAA but after two starts was assigned to AA. He has a 4.32 ERA between the two levels.

4. Kiernan Lovegrove RHP (Indians) South Africa - Kiernan is noted for being the highest draft pick (third round) out of South Africa after going to high school in the United States for Mission Viejo. Last year he moved into a relief role for his first season in full season ball. This year he has appeared in seven games out of the bullpen. A 5.10 career ERA in the minors is not too promising.

5. Tayler Scott RHP (Cubs) South Africa - Drafted in the fifth round by the Cubs in 2011. There are reports that his fastball hits 94. Like Kiernan he was a starter early in his minor league career. He was moved to the bullpen in 2015. Once moved into a relief role his whiffs per innings pitched have increased to almost one whiff per inning pitched. This year he has 19 whiffs in just 16.1 innings. Command has been an issue.

6. Callan Pearce RHP (Twins) South Africa - Callan was the first player signed out of the African academy that was started in 2011. He signed in 2013. He appeared in two games for the South African team in the 2016 WBC qualifier (6.75 ERA). He also pitched for the South African under 18 team. He has had three straight seasons in the Rookie Gulf Coast League where last year was his best year (1.99 ERA in 18 relief appearances). His 2017 season has yet to begin with time being spent in extended spring training waiting for the Rookie League to begin in July.

7. Victor Ngoepe SS (Pirates) South Africa - Only because he is the younger brother of Gift. He was signed by the Pirates in 2016. Last year was his first year in the minor leagues where it appears he has the soft bat of his brother, hitting just .219 with a .272 slugging average.

8. Anthony Phillips SS (Rockies) South Africa - Like Gift at 27 he is a bit old to be considered a prospect. He did hit .462 in the 2016 WBC qualifier. The Mariners signed him in 2006 and he has bounced around the minor league free agent wire. This year he signed with the Rockies and assigned to AA Hartford but he has yet to appear in a game. An older brother of his was signed by the Brewers and played for them in 2003.

9. Vince Deyzel RHP (Pirates) South Africa - Signed by the Pirates in 2015. His first year does not show a lot of promise with a 16/13 walk to whiff ratio in just 17 innings. Vince is in extended spring training waiting for the start of the Gulf Coast League to start where he can try to improve his command.

Pirates Promote First African Born Player

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Just a day after promoting the first Lithuanian born player to the major leagues the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted the first African born player. Gift Ngoepe was promoted by the Pirates as depth to the infield after the injury to David Freese. Gift was born in South Africa and lived in a clubhouse of a semi-professional baseball team because his mother worked as their cook and clubhouse person. The team gave her free room and board and Gift got plenty of exposure to baseball.

Gift is a solid defensive shortstop who is not gifted with the bat. The Pirates have Kevin Newman as their shortstop of the future with Jody Mercer their shortstop of the present. The best bet for Gift for an extended stay in the major leagues would be as a utility player.

Baseball World Cup Under 18 Pools Determined

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Baseball World Cup Under 18 tournament will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada from September 1-10. Nine of the top ten ranked countries will be participating in the event, with only Venezuela the lone top ten country not participating.

There will be two groups of six, who will play a round robin. The top three finishers will then advance to the second round, where each of the three teams will carry their record with them to the new pool and play the three teams advancing from the other pool. The two teams with the best record will play for the gold medal while the third and fourth best record will battle for the bronze.

Group A

Canada (9), South Korea (3), Taiwan (4), Australia (10), Italy (11), Nicaragua (16)

Group B

United States (2), Japan (1), Cuba (5), Mexico (6), Netherlands (9), South Africa (28)

The United States has won this event the last three years. The All tournament team from the last Under 18 tournament included first round draft pick Josh Naylor from Canada and the recently defected potential superstar from Cuba Luis Robert. Blake Retherford, the first round pick of the Yankees made the team as an outfielder. There was a Cuban player named Jose Garcia who made it as a second baseman, but do not know if that was Jose Adolis Garcia, the brother of Adonis who recently defected.

Luis Robert hit .406 with two homeruns and 11 RBIs with three doubles, three triples and four stolen bases at the event.

Under 23 World Cup Pools

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The under 23 World Cup will be held in Monterrey, Mexico from October 28 to November 6. Noticeably absent from this group is the United States and Cuba. Since this event awards the third most points of all the tournaments based on performance, the United States and Cuba will suffer in the next rankings. Only the Premier 12 and the World Baseball Classic distribute the most points. If the major baseball powers are not attracted to participate in any event, it calls into question the significance of the event, i.e. dates or location not attractive. The United States national team office seems to shut down after the summer with international events.

The absence of some of the big time powers provides opportunities for newer countries to compete such as Argentina and Austria. South Africa is another country listed low in the rankings that will have an opportunity to bring out their baseball skills.

The teams for this event are (with their world rankings in parenthesis):

Pool A

Mexico (8), Korea (3), Venezuela (7), Czech Republic (14), Panama (15) and South Africa (35)

Pool B

Japan (1), Taiwan (4), Australia (13), Nicaragua (18), Argentina (27), Austria (33)

Future Rosters Announced

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

The United States team has dominated this event the last couple years. Myworld will list the international players and identify their country of birth. There are some interesting countries that have not normally been represented in Futures Games. Dominican Republic has the most players while Venezuela was restricted to two and one of those players went to high school in the United States. Despite all the signings Cuba only has one player here.

Pitchers

Jharel Cotton (Virgin Islands), Chih-Wei Hu (Taiwan), Joe Jimenez (Puerto Rico), Adalberto Mejia (Dom Rep), Dovydas Neverauskas (Lithuania), Ricardo Pinto (Venezuela), Alex Reyes (Dominican Republic), Francisco Rios (Mexico), Dylan Unsworth (South Africa)

Catchers

Francisco Mejia (Dominican Republic), Gary Sanchez (Dominican Republic)

Infielders

Willy Adames (Dominican Republic), Carlos Asuaje (Venezuela), Jeimor Candelario (Dominican Republic), Ronald Guzman (Dominican Republic), Dilson Herrera (Colombia), Jorge Mateo (Dominican Republic), Yoan Moncada (Cuba), Josh Naylor (Canada)

Outfielders

Jorge Bonafacio (Dominican Republic), Eloy Jimenez (Dominican Republic), Manuel Margot (Dominican Republic), Tyler O’Neil (Canada), Raimel Tapia (Dominican Republic)

Japan Exports Baseball to Africa

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Volunteers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency have been going to places like Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Uganda and teaching the youth baseball. For many Africans, they may not be familiar with Clayton Kershaw, but they may soon know the name of Shohei Otani. You can read the full article at the link below:

Japan export of baseball to Africa

Aussies Bash Way to WBC

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

South Africa battled, getting a three run homerun from Kyle Botha in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead, but it was a lead they could not hold. Australia took advantage of a weak South Africa bullpen and battered the pitching staff for 11 of their 12 runs in the last four innings for a 12-5 win. A six run sixth was the inning that tore apart any chance of South Africa appearing in the WBC.

Gift Ngoepe got the scoring started early for South Africa in the first inning when he led the game off with a homerun off starter Travis Blackley. During his youth Gift slept and lived in the clubhouse of a South African baseball team while his mother was employed by them to work in the clubhouse. Now he is an integral part of their lineup, a step away from appearing in the major leagues.

Australia came back in the bottom of the first, getting a contribution from veteran Trent Oeltjen, an ex major leaguer coming out of retirement to participate in this game. After the first two hitters were retired by South African starter Kyle Gaddin a hit by pitch to Mitch Dening provided an opening for Australia. A single by Stefan Welch put two runners on for Trent to gap one into right field to score one. South Africa was able to throw out Welch trying to score on the play to end the inning, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for the assist.

Another ex-major leaguer and an ex Bowie Bay Sox hit back to back homeruns for Australia to lead off the fifth. Brad Harmon, who played briefly for the Phillies and Alan de san Miguel led off the inning with back to back homeruns off South African pitcher Carl Michaels, who had come on in relief for Kyle Gaddin in the third. Those two blasts had given Australia a 3-1 lead.

Travis Blackley had been cruising after giving up his first inning homerun. In the sixth he got into a little bit of trouble with the Phillips brothers causing most of the damage. With one out Anthony Phillips singled and Jonathan Phillips followed with a double, advancing his brother to third. Kyle Botha stopped the hearts of many Australian fans when he launched a pitch from Blackley over the left field fence for a three run homerun to give South Africa a 4-3 lead.

That lead was brief with Australia coming back in the bottom half of the sixth. Trent Oeltjen got things started with a one out double. A walk to another ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes set the table for Trent D’Antonio who lined a double to centerfield to score Oeltjen. South Africa replaced Carl Michaels with Callan Pearce and he was able to get the last two outs without allowing the runner on third from scoring, Harman hitting a fly ball to right fielder Brett Willemburg not deep enough to score Hughes. Willemburg had already thrown one Aussie out at the plate. Allan de san Miguel grounded out to leave the game tied at 4-4.

James Beresford led off the seventh inning with a single. After being bunted to second Mitch Dening drove him in with a single to give Australia the lead again 5-4. Dening stole second and was advanced to third on a single by Stefan Welch. Trent Oeltjen drove in the second run of the inning with a single but was gunned down trying to advance to second, right fielder Brett Willemburg getting credit for his second assist of the game.

The eighth inning was the back breaker for South Africa. The Phillips brothers did their job getting on base to start the inning, Anthony singling and Jonathan getting on base by coaxing a walk. A Kyle Botha ground out advance the runners to second and third where Anthony scored on a ground out by Brett Willemburg. Keegan Swanepoel had an opportunity to tie the game but Ryan Searle struck him out to end the inning, leaving Australia with a 6-5 lead.

They blew the game wide open with six runs in the bottom of the eighth, a bunt and a throwing error by third baseman Jonathan Phillips allowing the first two runs to score. At one point in the inning South African pitchers walked three straight hitters to force in one run. Trent D’Antonio singled in the last two runs after the three walks to finish off the scoring and give the Aussies an insurmountable 12-5 lead.

South Africa had battled but they were toast after the eighth inning. Ryan Searle retired the side in order in the ninth returning the Aussies to the WBC. The Aussies finished the game with 17 hits, seven of their players finishing the game with multiple hits. The veteran Trent Oeltjen was the ring leader with three hits. Trent D’Antonio led the team in RBIs with three. Mitch Dening led the team in runs scored with three. Peter Moylan and Ryan Searle followed Travis Blackley with 3.1 innings of relief. Moylan got credit for the win while Searle earned his second save.

South Africa Eliminates New Zealand

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

It might help the World Baseball Classic if some of the games were closer. The closest game was the three run difference between South Africa and Australia. These two teams will battle again after South Africa proved their superiority over New Zealand with a 9-2 romp, the second time they have squashed New Zealand.

Keegan Swanepoel was the hitting star for South Africa with four hits, driving in both his runs in the four run fourth inning that blew the game wide open. Anthony Phillips drew four walks allowing him to score three runs and Kyle Botha drove in three runs to lead the offense. Gift Ngoepe finally got his first hit of the qualifier, a bat South Africa will need to be competitive against Australia.

The third inning was evidence of the struggles for the New Zealand pitching staff. Three walks, one of them intentionally resulted in South Africa exploding for four runs. In total, New Zealand pitchers walked 10 batters, not the kind of performance you want to get from a pitching staff to win games.

In the sixth inning after a Gift Ngoepe single, two more walks loaded the bases to set up a bases clearing double by Botha.

New Zealand scored both their runs in the fourth inning, Moko Moanaroa, brother of Boss and also an ex-Red Sox minor leaguer, doubled in both runs after two walks put runners on base. South Africa was less generous with the walks, but they will have to do better than the seven walks they issued against New Zealand. The 17 walks issued in the ball game makes for a long night of baseball.

Australia Rides Good Pitching to Finals

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Good teams are defined by the quality of their pitching staff. When compared to the three other teams competing in the Australia World Baseball Classic qualifier Australia has the superior pitching. That was again on display with four pitchers limiting South Africa to one run on six hits in their 4-1 win to get them to the finals.

Warwick Saupold got the start and worked the first three innings. He gave up the lone run to South Africa in the third inning after a Kyle Botha RBI single. Ryan Rowland Smith followed him with three shutout innings of two hit ball. Todd Van Steensel was called on for two shutout innings and Ryan Searle struck out three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth.

Australia erupted for three runs in the opening frame off South African starter Carl Michaels. James Beresford and Logan Wade started the game with back to back double with Stefan Welch following with an RBI single. Fans were still not settled in their seats and Australia was already up 2-0. A sacrifice fly by Trent Oeltjen upped the lead to 3-0.

What looked to be a rout after the first inning settled into a pitcher’s duel. Australia would not score their next run until the sixth inning after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third and David Kandilas scored on a James Beresford ground out.

The earlier match showed New Zealand pound the Philippines 17-7 in a game that lacked good pitching. The Philippines had actually taken a 7-4 lead with three runs in the top of the sixth. New Zealand hammered the Philippine bullpen with six in the bottom half of the sixth, another five in the seventh and two more in the eighth to end the game as a result of the slaughter rule.

Ex-Red Sox prospect Boss Moanaroa drove in seven runs with his four hits. His RBI onslaught started with an RBI double in the fifth, it went into overdrive with a 3-run homer in the sixth and was completed after a two run single in the seventh. If Boss was a little faster with the feet he could have extended one of his two doubles for a triple to hit for the cycle.

Eric Farris collected four hits for the Philippines from the leadoff spot and Brady Conlan bashed a two run homer in the fourth to tie the game at 3-3 but the production went for naught for lack of a bullpen. The Philippine hurlers did not help their cause by walking 10 batters. By contrast New Zealand issued only one walk.

The Philippines now go back home while New Zealand does battle with South Africa to see who will attempt to knock Australia from the top of the hill.

South Africa and Australia Open with WBC Qualifier Victories

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

South Africa used two big innings to rout New Zealand 7-1 in a World Baseball Classic Qualifier. Dylan Unsworth pitched eight shutout innings to quiet the bats of New Zealand. Brett Willemburg provided all the offense South Africa needed with two hits while driving in two runs. New Zealand pitchers walked seven and their defense committed three errors, two of them in a three run third that led to the first three runs scoring for South Africa. A wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Connar O’Gorman was responsible for two South African runs.

New Zealand scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth on a walk to Boss Moanaroa that forced in a run. Jared Elario came on to face the final batter, forcing him to ground into a double play to end the game.

Australia scored seven in the seventh to rout the Philippines 11-1 in a game shortened by seven innings because of the ten run rule. James Beresford slammed four hits and drove in three runs to lead the Aussie offense. Beresford drove in two runs in the seven run seventh on a single. Stefan Welch also drove in three runs, including two in the seventh on a double and the first run for Australia in the first inning with a single.

Steven Kent worked six innings allowing only one run to get the win. That run came in the opening frame when the Philippines jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after two singles and a walk. Eric Farriss got things going with a single and Brady Conlan drove him in with a single.

In the double elimination tournament Australia will play South Africa while New Zealand will battle the Philippines to survive another day. You can view the boxscores of the game at the link below:

World Baseball Classic boxscores