Pirates recall Indians IF Ngoepe, first player from Africa to reach majors

Gift Ngoepe was the first African-born player to reach the major leagues. (Photo: Adam Pintar/Indianapolis Indians)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up infielder Gift Ngoepe, making him what they say is the first player from Africa to reach the major leagues.

The Pirates recalled Ngoepe from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday and sent reliever Dovydos Neverauskas back to the minors.

The 27-year-old Ngoepe was born in Pietersburg, South Africa, and attended high school in the suburbs of Johannesburg. Ngoepe signed with Pittsburgh in 2008 and was batting .241 in Triple-A when he was promoted to the Pirates.

Entering the game as part of a double-switch in the fourth inning, Ngoepe singled off Jon Lester in his first big league at bat. He later walked before striking out in the eighth as the Pirates beat Chicago, 6-5.

Ngoepe is considered the best defensive prospect in the Pirates organization. Pittsburgh is struggling defensively this season. The Pirates' 19 errors entering Wednesday were tied for the most in the majors.

Neverauskas became the first Lithuania-born and raised player to pitch in the majors when he appeared Monday in a loss to the Chicago Cubs.

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