WHEN one thinks of Major League Baseball (MLB), we think of teams with players from North America, Latin America, Japan and the Caribbean. That however is slowly changing, with players from Africa making their mark on the sport. One of the brightest new prospects for the game in South Africa is Durban North resident, Cole Pretorius. The 18-year-old, who has represented South Africa at the U18 Baseball World Cup, is now off to Spain to play in the MLB Academies Tournament.
He has been selected to play for the European All-Star team. He is one of three players from the continent to be part of the squad. The tournament features the top baseball academies in Europe and gives scouts, from all over the world, an opportunity to get an early look at the players.
“I’m really excited. It’s very rare for a player from South Africa to get an opportunity like this. I’m privileged and honoured to have the opportunity to play, but I’m nervous at the same time. There’ll be scouts from colleges and every other major league baseball team around the world at the tournament. These tournaments give you a chance to see where you are compared to what the best of the world has to offer,” said the former Northwood School learner.
Pretorius, who pitches at 140km/h (88 mp/h) delivers the ball at the same speed Kagiso Rabada bowls in cricket. He said his goal in Spain is to play the best he can.
“I want to compete and be the best I can be. It’s about showing what I have. The scouts who watch the game don’t look at how well you play; they work on what you can become. They work on a five year projection model. I want to be consistent and focused on the team’s goals,” he said.
Pretorius who plays for the local baseball club, the Orioles, said he knew baseball was made for him after playing his first game.