Shortstop Gift Ngoepe may enter the major leagues sooner than expected.
The Randburg, Gauteng native has played as a middle infielder in the Pirates minor league system since 2015 after playing at Triple-A Indianapolis. In 2008, he became the first black South African and sixth South African to sign a professional baseball contract.
Able to hit from both sides of the plate, Ngoepe focused his swing in 2009 by practicing to bat only right-handed. Although he didn’t see immediate results, Ngoepe worked his way to batting .257 with a .333 on-base percentage, according to post-gazette.com, in 2015.
Ngoepe aims to secure the final spot on the Pirates bench, alongside contenders Cole Figueroa, Jason Rogers, Pedro Florimon and Alen Hanson.