The Lancaster Barnstormers have signed one-time Major League infielder Gift Ngoepe, it was announced today by manager Ross Peeples. Peeples also announced that right-handed pitcher Connor Overton has signed with the team for the stretch run of the 2019 regular season.
Ngoepe, a native of South Africa, appeared in 28 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017 and 13 more for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. In those 41 games, he has batted .181 with six runs batted in.
The 11th year professional signed as a free agent with the Pirates in 2009. His best season in the Pittsburgh system came in 2014 when he hit .238 with nine homers and 52 RBI. Ngoepe also had nine triples for the Curve that season.
The right-handed batter opened this season with Philadelphia’s Class AAA affiliate in the Lehigh Valley, batting .221 with five homers and 21 RBI. He made a brief return to Altoona, playing in 14 games.
When Ngoepe made his debut in April of 2017, he became the first African-born player to reach the big league level. He is also the second Barnstormer to hail from South Africa. Barry Armitage was the first, appearing in 23 games with Lancaster in 2007.
“Ngoepe is a veteran guy that has some experience,” Peeples said. “From everything I have heard, he is very good defensively. A couple people have told me that he’s the best infielder they have ever played with or seen.”
Overton, 26, joins the Barnstormers out of the San Francisco Giants organization where he had spent the first two months of the 2019 season at Class AA Richmond. He was 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 appearances with the Flying Squirrels.
“Overton is a guy with a good arm that is very durable,” Peeples said. “He can start or relieve but he is going to start for us.”
The right-hander will take the rotation spot left vacant upon the retirement of left-hander Buddy Baumann, announced earlier today. Baumann was 4-8 with a 3.48 ERA for the Barnstormers in 16 starts and one relief outing.
The Richmond native as drafted out of Old Dominion University (Norfolk, VA) by the Miami Marlins in 2014. One year later, he joined the Washington Nationals. In 2016, the right-hander pitched for Sioux City in the American Association before heading to the Giants system later that year.
He has pitched in Class AAA in both the Washington and San Francisco organizations. He has a career 16-8 record with a 4.11 ERA in 136 relief appearances. Only two of those have been starts.