The 24-year-old first baseman/outfielder Donald Lutz is on the verge of making history. When he will get called up from Double-A Pensacola by the Cincinnati Reds for their series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, it would make him the first German player on a MLB team.
Lutz, a member of the German national team, was born in Watertown, New York to an American father and a German mother. Together with his mother they moved back to Friedberg, Germany at the age of one. He grew up playing ice hockey and team handball and didn’t start playing baseball until 14 years old, when his brother took him to a practice.
Lutz joined the Buchbinder Legionaere Regensburg in 2007 and signed with the Cincinnati Reds that summer. He attended the MLB European Academy in Tirrenia, Italy and started his professional baseball career one year later. After several years at the Rookie league level, learning the game, he had a breakout season with the Dayton Dragons (Single-A) in 2011, which led the Reds to add him to the 40-man roster.
Lutz continued his rise up in the Cincinnati Reds organization during 2012, playing in the California League (High-A), the Southern League (Double-A) and the Arizona Fall League. In between he joined the German national team for the World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Regensburg, Germany, where they lost to Canada in the championship game.
After a remarkable Major League Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds this March, Lutz was back in Double-A to start the 2013 season, but left a strong impression with front office and coaches, which now leads to the promotion.
When Donald Lutz is making his MLB debut for the Cincinnati Reds he will become the first German player in the big leagues. While there were and are several MLB players born in Germany in the past, they all are children of American military personal, which had been stationed in Germany.
Lutz is not the only current German player under contract with a Major League organization. Catcher Kai Gronauer is currently playing for the Triple-A team of the New York Mets. Outfielder Max Kepler (Minnesota Twins) and pitchers Markus Solbach (Minnesota Twins) and Daniel Thieben (Seattle Mariners) are on rosters of Single-A and Rookie-League affiliates.