The Pittsburgh Pirates signed right-handed pitcher David Matoma from Uganda on Sunday, during the opening day of the 2023 international signing period.
MLB holds camps in Africa and Europe and the best players from certain areas will attend those events. The entire continent of Africa will have about 20 kids at these events, with South Africa being their version of a baseball hotbed, though it’s far from the most popular sport in their country. Then there’s the country of Uganda, which didn’t have a single pro baseball player at any point until just under a year ago.
Matoma is not a raw player though. He’s very athletic, standing in at 6’0″, 155 pounds now at 16 years old, with obvious room to add to that frame. His selling point right now is a fastball that gets up to 92-93 MPH with control. He’s a bit of a project, but not the biggest one on this list of players who are signing today. He’s not a novelty signing due to being from a rare baseball country. He has legit upside and current pitching abilities. He has a slider that’s 80-84 MPH with spin, and a changeup that is 78-83. His fastball is 88-92, touching 93.
In a quote I received via the Pirates from signing scout Tom Gillespie, he said:
“Davis is a tough kid, and incredibly driven-both as a competitor and to create opportunities for others. He’s athletic, with a quick arm and feel for spin. Highly mature and ready for his next challenge.”
More from Gillespie
“He has life on his fastball with more to come. I believe in this young man, his resilience, and his openness to learn. Early on the game may get fast for him at times, but I have faith in him and in our development staff. We’re well equipped to help him excel on and off the field.”
From Max Kwan, who is the Pirates Director of Player Personnel:
“David is a very good, well coordinated athlete with arm speed and a lot of promising traits, some of which has already started to come. What is even more impressive about David is his work ethic, willingness and motivation to learn and grow. It will be a fun development path to follow with this caliber of person and our development staff.”
If you missed it from earlier, seven players from Venezuela officially signed.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.