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.