Below is a 2018 recap of the players whose youth development took place at least partially in European baseball. While intending to be comprehensive in this regard, it notably excludes players who have appeared for European countries in major tournaments like the European Championships or World Baseball Classic, and also does not include players who European clubs proudly help return to organized baseball during a professional stint on the continent (such as Junior Guerra with the Brewers, Ryan Bollinger with the Yankees).
Two notable sub-lists – first, three young men who were released during the course of the summer season; then, two players who will be on future updates now that they have achieved their dream of signing professional contracts.
Pascal Amon, Los Angeles Dodgers. Germany.
The soon-to-be 21 year old German outfielder played only four games in short-season Ogden before being released in June. He had 2 singles, 2 doubles, and 2 walks in those games. Amon is back playing for Regensburg in the German Bundesliga after 100 games in affiliated baseball across three seasons in the Dominican, Arizona, and finally Utah.
Nadir Ljatifi, Cincinnati Reds. Germany.
The 20 year old Dortmund native was playing his fourth season with the Reds when he returned to Germany at the end of July. He played 21 games for Billings this summer, finishing his career with 80 games played and a .233/.318/.330 slash line in the Arizona Summer League and Pioneer short-season.
Marco van der Wijst, Houston Astros. Netherlands.
The 20 year old Dutch infielder began his second professional season in the Dominican Summer League, and was released in June after 10 games. For his career, he received 125 official at-bats, hitting .264/.394/.392 with 2 stolen bases.
The two new signings are Omar Hernandez, a catcher from Barcelona, Spain, and Darryl Collins, an outfielder from the Netherlands. Both signed with the Kansas City Royals after the U18 European Championships in Grosseto this July.
Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees. Netherlands.
Current team: New York Yankees (MLB)
The shortstop from Amsterdam is hitting .267/.331/.489 with 23 home runs. He’s also stolen 10 bases for the playoff-bound Yankees.
Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins. Germany.
Current team: Minnesota Twins (MLB)
Kepler, born and raised in Berlin, has split time for the Twins between center and right field. The 25-year old is hitting .231 with a .324 on base, hitting 18 home runs and stealing 3 bases. After his 3-game debut in 2015, he has played in 400 major league games across the past 3 seasons.
Dovydas Neverauskas, Pittsburgh Pirates. Lithuania.
Current team: Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)
The Lithuanian righty, who signed out of Europe the same summer as Max Kepler, debuted in 2017 and has been on the Indy-Pittsburgh shuttle for most of 2018. He started and will finish the year on the major league roster, with four separate stints at Triple-A in between. “Never” has pitched 18 games in MLB and 34 for Indy this season, compiling a minor league statline of 2-3 record, 2.53 ERA, 4 saves, 30 walks, and 58 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. In Pittsburgh he has thrown 19 innings to date, allowing 19 earned runs and walking 10 while striking out 20.
Martin Cervenka, Baltimore Orioles. Czech Republic.
Current team: Bowie BaySox (Double-A)
In his 8th year of minor league baseball, Cervenka continued to impress and improve. After spending his entire career with the Cleveland Indians organization, Cervenka signed a minor league free agent deal with the San Francisco Giants, only to be claimed in the minor league Rule 5 draft 3 weeks later by the Orioles. The Czech catcher spent the entire season in Double-A, playing 97 games and hitting .258/.317/.457. He nearly doubled his career power to date, with 15 home runs on the season. He struck out 62 times, walked 30, and stole a base in his only attempt.
Alex Liddi, Kansas City Royals. Italy.
Current team: Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A)
After a couple of years in the Mexican league, the Italian corner infielder returned to affiliated baseball and played 107 games with the Royals Double-A affiliate. The 30 year old hit 23 home runs while hitting .247/.295/.483. He had 72 RBIs and 126 strikeouts.
Tom de Blok, Detroit Tigers. Netherlands.
Current team: West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A)
Amsterdam’s de Blok opened the 2018 season at High-A Lakeland, making 11 starts there, then finished the season with 8 starts back at West Michigan (where he finished last season). De Blok went on the disabled list in early August with an unknown injury. In his 45.2 innings in A-ball, he pitched to a 3.15 ERA, striking out 30 and walking 15. In High-A, the righty threw 55.2 innings with 41 strikeouts and 22 walks. For the year he had a 5-6 record and a 4.71 ERA.
Alberto Mineo, Toronto Blue Jays. Italy.
Current team: Dunedin Blue Jays (High-A)
The lefty-swinging Italian catcher spent this year as a Blue Jay after being claimed off the Cubs roster. He started and finished the year in High-A, with a four game cameo last month with Triple-A Buffalo. Mineo hit .305 for the season, including 6 hits in his four games at the top minor league level. He has a .387 on base and .424 slugging percentage in 61 games. He struck out 40 times and walked 27 in 210 at bats.
Sven Schüller, Los Angeles Dodgers. Germany.
Current team: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High-A)
Around a pair of disabled list stints, Schueller pitched in A ball, High-A, and he made an appearance with Triple-A Oklahoma City. In total, the righty from Wuppertal pitched in 36 games – 14 in the Midwest (A), 21 for Ranch Cucamonga (High-A), and 2.2 innings on the precipice of MLB. He was 3-2 with a 5.66 ERA in 55.2 innings, walking 19, hitting 12, and striking out 43 while allowing 75 hits.
Marten Gasparini, Kansas City Royals. Italy.
Current team: Lexington Legends (Low-A)
The Italian switch-hitter played the full season in the full-season Sally League. He hit .222/.273/.315 in 103 games and 343 at bats. The outfielder stole 18 bases while striking out 119 times versus 23 walks.
Yoan Antonac, Philadelphia Phillies. France.
Current team: GCL Phillies (rookie)
The 18-year-old from Montpelier signed this spring and made his pro debut last month in the Gulf Coast League. He pitched 2.1 official innings in two outings, with 2 hits, 2 hit batters, and two runs scored while striking out three.
Petru Balan, Minnesota Twins. Moldova.
Current team: GCL Twins (rookie)
The 22-year-old left-hander pitched his second season in the Gulf Coast League, making 16 appearances for a 1-3 record and 2.35 ERA. In 23 innings, he allowed 21 hits and 18 walks while striking out 22.
Paul Brands, Pittsburgh Pirates. Netherlands.
Current team: West Virginia Black Bears (short-season A)
The 21-year-old Hoofddorp native played in the highest of the Pirates three short-season teams in the New York-Penn League. Primarily a catcher, but also playing third base, second base, and outfield, Brands appeared in 25 games and hit .234/.298/.260. He walked 7 times, struck out 29, and stole 3 bases.
Donny Breek, Minnesota Twins. Netherlands.
Current team: GCL Twins (rookie)
The Dutch righty opened his pro career with the Twins Gulf Coast League affiliate. He pitched 37.1 innings in 10 games for a 2-1 record and 2.89 ERA. He allowed 27 hits and 20 walks while striking out 41.
Anton Kuznetsov, Philadelphia Phillies. Russia.
Current team: Williamsport Crosscutters (short-season A)
The left handed pitcher from Moscow looked to build on his 2017 strong debut in the GCL (25 innings with a 0.36 ERA), but he pitched only 3 games in short season before going on the 60-day disabled list. He allowed 6 runs in his four innings.
Ernesto Wilson Martinez, Milwaukee Brewers. France.
Current team: AZL Brewers (rookie)
The first baseman from Cuba via the French academy in Toulouse spent the summer in Arizona. He played 35 games and hit .224/.336/.280. Martinez had 6 extra base hits, 16 walks, 48 strikeouts, and 5 stolen bases in 8 attempts.
Niklas Rimmel, Minnesota Twins. Germany.
Current team: GCL Twins (rookie)
The 19 year old from the Regensburg academy opened his pro career with 8 appearances and 14 innings in Florida after completing his studies. Rimmel allowed 21 hits, walking 5 and striking out 6.
Leonardo Seminati, Cincinnati Reds. Italy.
Current team: Billings Mustangs (short-season A)
The Italian first baseman started in Arizona for his first 27 pro games, and was quickly promoted to Billings (in August) where he got an additional 15 games at the higher level. For the summer, Seminati had 139 at bats, 7 walks, 38 strikeouts, and a .252/.295/.367 slash line. He hit four home runs.