Blue Jays Acquire Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates
The Blue Jays added infield depth on monday afternoon in a trade with the Pirates.
The Blue Jays lost infield depth by losing Rob Refsnyder on a waiver claim by the Cleveland Indians on Monday afternoon. His replacement did not take long to be named as minutes after, the Blue Jays announced they had acquired infielder Gift Ngoepe from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash, as teams try to trim their 40 man rosters before the Rule 5 Draft.
The South African 27 year old became the first African born player to play in the major leagues when he debuted in 2017 with the Pirates against the Chicago Cubs in April. He spent most of the season at the Triple A affiliate of the Pirates. He had 64 plate appearances with the Pirates in 2017 in which he hit .222/.323/.296 with 6 RBI’s.
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Ngoepe provides needed depth for the the infield. During his minor league career he has played primarily shortstop, but has also played frequently at second base, and some third base too. The infielder has been seen as premier defender his entire career through the minor leagues, which is ultimately what has led him to reach the majors.
Like Refsnyder, Ngoepe is a limited offensive player. His OPS has always been below .700 in all his minor league seasons since 2009. In 2017, he hit just .220/.299/.383 at triple A. This is certainly the aspect of his game he will have to improve if he wants a steady role in the majors.
Overall, Ngoepe provides much needed infield depth, as he can play shortstop, second base and third base at an extraordinary defensive level. He will likely start the season at Triple A with the Buffalo Bisons, and be used in an injury scenario, which realistically, is a likely scenario. With this move, the Blue Jays add depth, versatility, speed and athleticism which are major needs this 2017/2018 offseason.