Gift Ngoepe

Position: SS
Born: 01/18/90
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 200
B/T: R/R
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent (South Africa) September 29, 2008 (PIT).

Most Recent Stats at Time of Debut
2016 Season Stats: Hit .217 in 102 games at Indianapolis (Triple-A_ with eight home runs, 27 RBIs and five stolen bases. In 2017 at Indianapolis, he was hitting .241 with one home run and four RBIs in 15 games.

Info & MLB Debut Date
Recalled from Indianapolis April 26 when RHP Dovydas Neverauskas was sent down.
MLB Debut Date: 04/26/17

Debut Details
April 26, in a 6-5 win against the Cubs. Playing second base, he went 1-for-2 with a walk. Coming on to play second base in a double-switch in the top of the fourth inning, he took over for starting 2B Phil Gosselin and slid into the ninth spot in the order when LHP Wade LeBlanc took over for starting RHP Tyler Glasnow with one out. He led off the bottom of the inning with a single to center off of Cubs LHP Jon Lester. In the sixth inning, he drew a two-out walk. In the eighth, he struck out swinging against RHP Carl Edwards, Jr.

Player Notes
Having posted not one but two features about Ngoepe in the intro to this package, there is a ton of information you can and should read about one of the most talked-about debutantes of the season, who becomes the first African-born player in the majors. In an historic transaction, Ngoepe took the roster spot of his longtime friend and organization mate, right-hander Dovydas Neverauskas, who only two days earlier had become the first Lithuanian-born player in the majors. Both players were signed at age 16 out of MLB's European Academy where Ngoepe polished his defensive game under the expert tutelage of Barry Larkin. Ngoepe, who literally grew up in a baseball clubhouse--one room in Randsburg, South Africa, where his late mother Maureen worked cleaning the clubhouse and the grounds--has always wanted to be a big league ballplayer but it took until his ninth pro season with the Pirates before he could achieve that ultimate goal. Considered the best defensive infielder in the system, he's seen time in international play as a member of South Africa's World Baseball Classic squad. He has also been one of the most beloved teammates everywhere he's gone for his positive and cheerful personality. His younger brother, Victor, 19, is also playing in the Pittsburgh system. Ngoepe's given name is Mpho' Gift Ngoepe. Mphi' also means gift, and, as Ngoepe has explained, his mother gave him that name because he was "a gift from God." A career .232 hitter over eight-plus seasons, he made his pro debut at the Pirates' rookie-level complex in the Gulf Coast League in 2009 and got yet another spot on the history list when he collected a hit in his first big league at-bat.