Two Dutch players have signed Minor League contracts with MLB organizations, Rachid Engelhardt of Corendon Kinheim by the Baltimore Orioles and Ruar Verkerk of DOOR Neptunus by the Minnesota Twins. Both are excellent hitters, who already have international experience, playing in European and World Championships at various age levels.
Engelhardt is the brother of Dutch national teamer Bryan Engelhardt. Several MLB clubs were interested in the 17-year-old, who already debuted in the Dutch Hoofdklasse in 2011 for Mr. Cocker HCAW. After a successful showing at the IBAF 16U Baseball World Championship in Mexico in 2011 the outfielder joined Corendon Kinheim. This year he is batting .318/.403/.394 in 21 games evolving into one of the best hitters in the league. After the current MLB Mini Camp in Haarlem he will join the Dutch 18U Team for the European Junior Championship in Prague and also got an invitation for the MLB European Academy in Regensburg. If this will change after signing with the Orioles remains to be seen.
Verkerk is 16 years old and is currently playing for the DOOR Tridents, the farm team of DOOR Neptunus. The corner infielder as well participated in the MLB Mini Camp in Haarlem and will join Engelhardt in Prague for the European Junior Championship. In 2012 he played in the IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship in Seoul and attended the MLB European Academy in Tirrenia. After signing with the Twins he is scheduled to join the MLB Australian Academy Program during the winter and then will report to Spring Training in Florida.
Both, Verkerk and Engelhardt, have been contestants in the Power Showcase Home Run Derby, which is held in the United States each year shortly after Christmas. They are the fourth and fifth recent signings from Europe with MLB organizations after Julsan Kamara (GER/Philadelphia Phillies), Sven Schüller (GER/Los Angeles Dodgers) and Marten Gasparini (ITA/Kansas City Royals). More are expected to receive minor league contracts in the coming weeks and months, as scouts have the opportunity to see them at European Championships, the IBAF 18U Baseball World Cup and the MLB European Academy.