According to Baseball America, the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed the younger brother of infielder Gift Ngoepe, who has been in the organization since 2008. Victor Ngoepe was playing for Team South Africa in the 18U(meaning 18 years old or under) World Cup this past summer, collecting two hits against Team Italy. He was born on February 9, 1998 and on the roster for Team South Africa, he is listed as an infielder who bats and throws righty.
Back in December, Victor attended the African Elite Camp along with pitcher Vince Deyzel, who was signed last winter by the Pirates. Gift Ngoepe was a coach at the camp. Victor Ngoepe got high praise from former Major League player Fernando Perez, who was also a coach there. Perez said this of Victor, who was playing shortstop at the camp:
“He’s natural, I didn’t take pitches like him until I was in Double-A. He’s that patient. He just does everything very well. He’s had the best big brother to copy. They’re both very smart. I expect he’ll be an exciting young prospect. Maybe the second African-born MLB player, because Gift will be the first.”
Update 12:00 pm: Got a bit of an update and it’s from the Pirates’ Vince Deyzel, who has played with and against Victor Ngoepe. Interesting to note before I start that both Deyzel and Victor were born on the exact same day. Victor actually signed on January 7th, but the news wasn’t quick to get to the U.S. apparently. On to the report, where Deyzel said that Ngoepe has a strong glove and fast hands, with a lot of natural ability. He plays shortstop and second base equally as well. He also said that Ngoepe plays a lot of soccer, so I assume that helps with the footwork and athleticism.
Deyzel is one of the better pitchers in South Africa now, hitting 90 mph, which you don’t see often there. So it’s a good match-up for Ngoepe. In their meetings, Deyzel said that Ngoepe “does alright against him”, he’s a contact hitter with a quick swing and not a lot of power. His running is at least average, which Deyzel described as not slow, but not as fast as Gift Ngoepe. Except for the speed, the younger Ngoepe sounds a lot like the Gift Ngoepe the Pirates signed in 2008.
There is also this GIF from imokemp on Twitter:
Short clip of Victor Ngoepe from 2015 U18 World Cup. pic.twitter.com/96fNx7jV9W
— O'ki (@27imokemp) January 25, 2016