Nearly 9,100 miles — or, should we say 14,732 kilometers — from home, Round Rock Express pitcher Tayler Scott is on the brink of accomplishing his lifelong goal. Pitching at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career, Scott is one promotion away from becoming the first-ever South African-born pitcher in MLB history.
Growing up in Johannesburg, where cricket, soccer, and rugby are king, Scott didn’t discover the game of baseball until he was about 10 years old.
“I came across baseball during a drive with my dad. We saw some kids playing on a field and thought to go check it out,” Scott said. “In South Africa, baseball is just a fun recreational thing. Guys show up once a week to play a game. There’s no facilities or anything like that, it’s just for fun.”
Scott fell in love with baseball. He knew he needed to move to the U.S. to pursue his dream. Scott and his parents relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona so that he could further his budding baseball career.
The move paid off as he was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 June Draft by the Chicago Cubs, becoming the first-ever South African born player drafted by an MLB club.
After time with the Cubs minor league organizations and a stint in independent baseball, Scott signed with the Milwaukee Brewers organization before being traded to
the Texas Rangers in exchange for Jeremy Jeffress.
“It was very unexpected,” Scott said of the trade deadline deal. “To find out I had been traded, then to find out that it was a straight up trade for a big league guy was even crazier. Obviously, the Texas Rangers value me and it was very encouraging.”
With his value rapidly increasing, Scott is closer than ever to accomplishing his goal.
“It really means a lot to me. Growing up, my goal was to become the first South African baseball player ever, but Gift Ngoepe ended up accomplishing that. But I can become the first pitcher. Getting to be the first to do that would mean a lot to me and my family and what they’ve sacrificed.”
As Scott continues to post impressive numbers, he knows he’s on the doorstep of accomplishing history. His unique path that began in Johannesburg and is currently in Round Rock has just one more step to become complete. Regardless of the outcome, he is proud to be part of a group growing the game back in South Africa.
Article by Round Rock Express and photos by Julia Essington