Pirates demote Ngoepe, first African-born major leaguer

Gift Ngoepe (Getty Images)
Gift Ngoepe (Getty Images)

New York - The Pittsburgh Pirates have optioned infielder Gift Ngoepe to the minor leagues about a month after he debuted as the first African-born player in the majors.

The slick-fielding South African singled in his first plate appearance last month, but batted .222 without a homer in 28 games prior to the demotion.

Ngoepe picked up baseball as a child because his family lived in the clubhouse of a men's league ballpark where his mother worked. His younger brother, Victor, is also a Pirates minor leaguer.

The elder Ngoepe is headed to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Manager Clint Hurdle says he told the 27-year-old to work on his two-strike approach and small-ball hitting.

Hurdle told him that if he shows those skills next time he comes to the majors, "you can stay".

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