Here’s a quick look at the South African natives who spent 2018 playing minor league baseball.
Tayler Scott, Seattle Mariners.
Current team: Seattle Mariners (MLB)
Scott, who was born in Johannesburg and moved with his family to the US in his early teens, became the second African, and first (South) African pitcher, to play in the major leagues. Scott was drafted in 2011 out of an Arizona high school, and he signed with the Mariners as a minor league free agent this winter. In 19 Triple-A outings in 2019, Scott had a 3-2 record and 44 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. He’s had two appearances thus far with the big club, pitching 4.1 innings with 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts.
Gift Ngoepe, Philadelphia Phillies
Current team: Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A)
Following on Scott’s news above, Ngoepe became the first African in MLB in his 2017 Pirates debut. He split 2018 between the minors and majors with the Blue Jays, and after a successful offseason playing for the Sydney Blue Sox in Australia, Ngoepe secured a contract with the Phillies and has played 38 games in Triple-A. He’s hitting .228 with 5 home runs and a stolen base.
Victor Ngoepe, Pittsburgh Pirates.
Current team: West Virginia Black Bears (short-season A)
The younger Ngoepe just wrapped up extended spring training and will embark on his fourth minor league season with an assignment to West Virginia. He did not appear in their season opener Friday night. Victor has played in 152 official minor league games and has a .224/.301/.276 slash line with one career home run and 24 stolen bases while primarily playing shortstop.
Dylan Unsworth, Los Angeles Angels.
Unsworth has pitched at Double-A and/or Triple-A for the past four seasons, with 2018 his first season outside the Seattle Mariners system. Currently a free agent, if this portends the end for the Durban righty he pitched stateside for 9 seasons, logging 773 career innings with a 4.17 ERA with 121 walks against 625 strikeouts.
Kieran Lovegrove, San Francisco Giants.
Lovegrove signed a minor league contract this off-season with the San Francisco Giants after pitching most of last season at Triple-A. He was recently released after 15 appearances at Double-A Richmond with an ERA of 8.69 and 14 walks in 19.2 innings.
Anthony Phillips, Oakland Athletics.
Phillips was in the Rockies organization last season in his 11th year in minor league baseball, and he finished the year playing for the independent league St. Paul Saints. While details are lacking, some outlets have him currently listed as a coach in the A’s system.
Vince Deyzel, Pittsburgh Pirates.
The right-handed pitcher from Durban lasted 3 years in the Pirates system. He finishes with a career 5.70 ERA in 71 innings.