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World Select Team makes campus call at ASU

Players from 11 countries on hand for third MLB College Showcase
October 9, 2018

TEMPE, Ariz. -- College tours take place all day long at Arizona State University with potential Sun Devils and family members walking around campus for about an hour.The student has usually narrowed the college choices down to a handful of schools and wants to get a closer look at what

TEMPE, Ariz. -- College tours take place all day long at Arizona State University with potential Sun Devils and family members walking around campus for about an hour.
The student has usually narrowed the college choices down to a handful of schools and wants to get a closer look at what the university has to offer.
It was a little different for the two groups that headed out Tuesday afternoon from the Future Sun Devil Welcome Center.
The idea of attending an American college is a daunting, life-altering endeavor; one that many of the 30 or so young ballplayers walking around the Tempe campus probably would have never considered if it weren't for their placement on the World Select Team that is spending the week in Arizona.
"All I've thought about was playing pro baseball in the States," said Luke November, 17, of South Africa. "Signing with a [pro] team was the way to do it because my country doesn't have college baseball. College is another option to keep playing the game."
November is one of 31 players aged 16-20 from 11 countries who were selected to be part of the third MLB College Showcase. The group is in Arizona this week getting coaching, training and exposure in front of MLB and college coaches, while playing against lower-level pro and college teams.
On Tuesday, they put away the cleats, bats and balls, to gain exposure to what a typical university is like in the United States.
It started with an opportunity to see where the Arizona State baseball program plays -- Phoenix Municipal Stadium -- and then they arrived at the ASU campus and sat in a lecture hall-type setting, where they were introduced to what the college experience can be like.
"It is pretty amazing," 16-year-old Australian Liam MacDonald said. "We have really good colleges, but there isn't a chance to play baseball, too. Education is important because you can't play forever."

The lecturer hit on several topics specific to ASU, but one of the most important things was the broader subject of "taking advantage of the opportunities that are given to you."
And that's exactly what these ballplayers hope to do when this week comes to an end. The two first groups that came through the MLB College Showcase have produced 39 players that went on to sign with either a junior college, Division-I program or pro team.
Two from this year's group have already signed -- Netherlands catcher Denzel Bryson (Atlanta Braves) and pitcher Angelo Wicklert (Arizona Western). Their success serves as immediate inspiration for the other players in camp.
"Those are my brothers; my countrymen," Delano Selassa, 18, of The Netherlands, said. "It gives me hope. If they can do it, so can I."
One of the points being driven home this week is that players in other countries don't play the game as much as players in the States, especially in a place like Arizona, where the game can be played all year long.
In other countries, there are fewer opportunities, along with shorter seasons. The players in the United States generally have more innings of game experience, while the players from other countries might be just as talented, but are less refined in some cases.
The possibility of playing at a two-year junior college or a four-year program -- where teams play upwards of 50 games a season -- is a great way for the international players to close the gap while getting acclimated to life in the States before a possible pro career begins.
"I can see how they [scouts] see us as less experienced, but that shows we have a lot of potential to grow, too," catcher Fabian Kovacs, 18, of France, said. "College baseball in America would be a great chance to play a lot more and an opportunity to get better every day."
All 31 players in camp are attempting to do just that -- improve daily while being exposed to a high level of coaching and training -- during their stay in the States.
"What I've done so far is the first level, and I'd say getting named to this team is the second level for me," said Dennis Achirdi, 17, of Uganda. "Playing in college would be a completely different level. I didn't know if it was a possible, but now that I've seen it for myself, I know it is something I want to try and do."

Jason P. Skoda is a contributor to MLB.com.