Mpho Gift Ngoepe (mm-POH, n-GO-pay)...Mpho translates to "gift" in the Sotho language ... Graduated from Rand Park High School in South Africa ... His mother, Maureen, worked as a cook and cleaner for a team called the Mets in Randburg, South Africa ... Played for an MLB academy in Italy where he was discovered by the Pirates ... Was featured in a Sports Illustrated article in 2009 entitled "A Gift From Africa".
Started the season with Triple-A Indianapolis after hitting .429 (18-for-42) over 21 spring training games ... Homered for the I-Tribe in his first regular season game on April 6 vs. Toledo and hit safely in each of his first six games ... Was recalled to the Pirates on April 26 and made his MLB debut that night vs. CHC, becoming the 1st player from the continent of Africa to appear in a Major League game...Singled off Jon Lester in his 1st at-bat (1-for-2, BB, K) ... Reached base safely five times in his 1st MLB start (at second base) on April 28 at MIA (3-for-3, 3B, RBI, 2BB), becoming the first Pirate to do so since Eddie Moore in 1923 ... Drove in two runs on May 2 at CIN for his 1st multi-RBI game ... Started his 1st game at shortstop on May 4 at CIN where he went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI ... Started his 1st game at third base on May 7 vs. MIL ... Was optioned back to Indianapolis on May 31 after hitting .222 (12-for-54) over 28 errorless games for the Pirates ... Spent time on the DL from June 20-July 6 with a hamstring strain ... Homered twice and drove in a personal-best five runs on Aug. 15 at Buffalo, his first multi-HR game since 2012.
Spent all of 2016 with Indianapolis and made 97 starts at shortstop as well as three starts at second base...Led International League shortstops in fielding percentage (.984)...Made just one error over 58 games between May 24 and Aug. 7...Was suspended by the Pirates on Aug. 30 for the remainder of the season due to an off-field incident ... Was rated by Baseball America as "Best Defensive Infielder" in the Pirates' minor league system entering each season from 2013-2017.
Entered the year rated by Baseball America as the "Best Defensive Infielder" in Pittsburgh's minor league system...Split season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis...Hit .257 (79-for-307) with 16 doubles, three homers and 26 RBI in 92 games between the two clubs...Began season with Altoona and was the only Curve player to start each of the first 24 games...Hit .322 (27-for-90) in 24 games during the month of May and his .339 average over 34 games from 5/2 to 6/10 was the highest batting average in the Pirates organization during that span...Made all 71 defensive appearances at shortstop while playing with Altoona... Was promoted to Indianapolis on 6/29...Made 15 starts at shortstop and three at third base with Indy; also made two appearances at second base...Played final game on 7/26...Missed the final month with a left oblique injury.