Gift Ngoepe, the first player born and developed in Africa to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates, for cash considerations or a player to be named later, by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Pirates had signed him as an international free agent out of MLB Academy in Tirrenia (Italy) and he has played in their farm system since 2009: 200 games at class AAA, 274 at AA, 154 at A+, 25 at A, 66 at A- and 49 at the Rookie level.
“I felt a kind of shock about the news” commented Ngoepe “But I am excited now. It’s a new journey for me and I am excited about what lies in front of me”
Mpho’ Gift Ngoepe (born 1990 in Pietersburg, South Africa) grew up literally living in the Randburg Mets clubhouse, since his mother was a clubhouse attendant and they lived in one of the rooms.
He was the first black south african to turn pro (his younger brother Victor would later become the second) and has represented his country internationally in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and in the 2012 and 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifiers.
Gift Ngoepe made his MLB debut on 26 April, 2017 for the Pirates and hit safely in his very first at bat.
He appeared in 28 MLB games during the season and played 77 more at AAA Indianapolis.
Scouts believe he is “an elite defender who can play all over the infield, but comes with a light bat”.