John Miller, head coach of the Brussels Kangaroos and a reporter for a major American newspaper, is chronicling his team’s 2008 season in a column that will appear every Monday on mister-baseball.com. It is the first of several Mister-Baseball Blogs this year.
Jason Holowaty, the familiar (and young) London-based face of Major League Baseball in Europe, writes in to agree that position players from Europe “have further to develop than the pitchers, particularly when signed at a young age.”
He keeps a running list of how many players, since 2005, each European country has sent to the U.S. pro leagues:
Netherlands – 10
Italy – 6
Germany – 6
Czech Republic – 5
Russia – 3
France – 2
Denmark – 1
Belgium – 1
He points at the summer MLB Academy and the U21 championships as likely sources of future signings. Out of the 34 signed overall, 23 were signed out of the annual academy, which brings big-league luminaries such as Lee Smith and Barry Larkin to the continent to coach European youngsters.
Jason, by the way, played a bit role in one of the greatest all-time moments of my life. I was doing a story a few years ago about the World Championships in the Netherlands. I had placed a call to MLB’s London office, and was awaiting a return call.
On a lazy afternoon at the office, the phone rang.
“Hi, this is Major League Baseball,” a voice said. “Is John Miller there?”