Top NZ Baseball Talent Puts MLB on Hold
By Greg Pearson
While sports like rugby often struggle to keep their best players from heading overseas, baseball is actively encouraging it.
Makauley Fox is the latest player chasing the dream of making it to the big leagues, but for now at least, that dream is on hold.
Fox is considered one of the best baseball prospects New Zealand has ever produced, but with offers on the table from six major league ball clubs, the 17-year-old did the unthinkable – he said no.
“Yeah, we turned down the professional scouts and said thanks very much, but we’ll see you in three or four years when I can sign out of college,” says Fox.
Instead, he has signed on at Oregon State University – one of the top baseball colleges in the United States – on a four-year full scholarship, a pathway the big pitcher hopes will eventually lead to the majors.
“I just play because I love it, and when the opportunities started to come up, started to be a real thing, [I thought] ‘wow, I can really go somewhere in this sport, I can really do somewhere with my life’,” he says.
Fox is the latest on a growing list of Kiwis heading overseas to play ball, and Baseball New Zealand’s Ryan Flynn couldn’t be happier.
“At the end of the day, our job at Baseball New Zealand is to provide pathways for these kids, to get an education, see the world. They’re starting to wake up to the fact that they are good, whether they come from a history of baseball, softball, cricket, rugby – kids are starting to come from the game from every code, and our job is to make them ready for the next step of their lives, to make them better human beings.”
And with the likes of Fox impressing the big league scouts, New Zealand’s profile as a baseball talent pool continues to grow.
“It is heartening to know that it is a reality that can happen, rather than a thing off in the distance, but I’m just ready to work hard and make it happen for me,” says Fox.
He begins his baseball education in Oregon in January, hopefully followed by a long career as a major leaguer.