Major Leaguers Set to Promote Baseball Around the Globe; Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke Heading to New Zealand
Following another successful tour of Japan, Major League Baseball (MLB) players and coaches will travel this offseason to share their passions for the game with fans and young players from developing baseball countries on three other continents. As part of this initiative, Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke is slated to head to New Zealand shortly after Brewers On Deck, from January 28 through February 2.
Currently, Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays is in South Africa as part of the MLB South Africa Elite Camp staff, which also includes the hitting coach for the 2014 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, Hensley Meulens, and will participate in youth baseball clinics.
Gift Ngoepe, a native South African and professional player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, and Tim Leiper, the first base coach for the Toronto Blue Jays, are also serving as instructors at the Elite Camp.
Later this month, Archer’s Rays teammate, Australian Grant Balfour, will make a number of appearances in his home country where MLB opened the 2014 Championship Season.
In January, relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins will serve as a pitching instructor at the MLB Brazil Elite Camp. The staff will include Hall of Famer Barry Larkin along with former Major Leaguer Steve Finley. Brazilians Andre Rienzo, Chicago White Sox pitcher, and Paulo Orlando from the Kansas City Royals organization will train with the Elite Camp participants. Rienzo will also make a series of appearances at various youth initiatives across his home country throughout January.
“Major League Baseball is dedicated to the continued growth and development of our game around the world through our Ambassador Programs and Elite Camps,” said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. “The players and coaches who have dedicated their time and effort during the offseason to help bring their knowledge of baseball to different parts of the world is a testament to our commitment to the future growth of baseball globally.”
Archer, Meulens, Leiper and Ngoepe are serving as instructors at the MLB African Elite Camp in Johannesburg, South Africa for 37 of Africa’s top young baseball players. Fifteen coaches from the participating nations – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – are on hand to learn from the experienced MLB staff. In addition, MLB staff has also hosted clinics for 70 aspiring baseball coaches from across Africa to improve their knowledge of the game. A youth clinic was conducted for promising young baseball players in the Alexandra Township, one of the most disadvantaged urban areas in the country. The MLB African Elite Camp started in 2011, and has reached 116 players and 50 coaches from seven African nations. Three players from the Elite Camp have signed with MLB clubs, including 2013 camper Rowan Ebersohn (South Africa) with the Minnesota Twins.
Balfour will return to his native Australia, December 12-21, to participate in a number of community baseball events around the country. The trip will include appearances at various Australian Baseball League (ABL) games and clinics with local junior players. He will also attend the ABL All-Star Game where he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The ABL is a six-member league started in 2010 that features homegrown talent as well as many players who hail from outside of Australia playing a 48-game season running November through February.
Roenicke will travel to New Zealand to train and work with top players on the New Zealand National Team, many of whom represented the country in the Qualifiers for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, along with many of the nation’s top 18U, 15U and 12U national development players. In addition, he will conduct clinics for youth baseball players and coaches in three cities – Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington – and run baseball sessions in schools across Auckland, the nation’s largest city.
Hawkins, Larkin and Finley will serve as instructors for the MLB Brazil Elite Camp from January 26 – February 4. Rienzo, Orlando and members of the Brazilian National Team who competed in the 2013 World Baseball Classic will train alongside the camp attendees. This Elite Camp, which has taken place each year since 2011, will bring together 50 of the best players, ages 14-17, from Brazil and Argentina to participate in morning instructional workouts, afternoon games and nightly seminars led by MLB field staff. Players will receive Major League instruction from top professional coaches and showcase their talents for Major League Scouts.
Throughout January, Rienzo will participate in a number of community baseball events around the country. His activities will include attending Brazilian national baseball tournaments and taking part in a youth clinic in Recife, Brazil, and visiting the Nautico Baseball Team, a professional soccer club that has adopted baseball into its programming through a partnership with Major League Baseball International.
In addition to these efforts, MLB is working with a leading Brazilian institution for physical education and the arts, SESC (Serviço Social do Comércio) to implement several development initiatives including an after-school baseball program, appearances by current and former Major Leaguers and clinics featuring Brazilian National Team players.
About MLB International
Major League Baseball International (MLBI) focuses on the worldwide growth of baseball and the promotion of Major League Baseball and MLB Club trademarks and copyrights through special events, broadcasting, market development, licensing and sponsorship initiatives. MLBI is committed to showcasing the world’s best baseball talent through international events around the globe. MLBI executes and supports game development programs targeting players and coaches from grassroots to elite levels. With an extensive list of marketing partners worldwide, MLBI continues to grow its position as a leader in the international marketplace. MLBI is supported in its mission through presences in Beijing, New York, London, Sydney and Tokyo.