Kiwi pitcher joins baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates
New Zealand Diamondblack pitcher John Holdzkom has been signed by Major League Baseball franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Holdzkom has been sold to the Pirates and assigned to the Altoona Curve in the Class AA Eastern League.
The Curve are based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, about 160 kilometres east of Pittsburgh.
American-born with a Kiwi father, Holdzkom pitched for New Zealand at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Taiwan in November 2012.
He recently achieved 1.17 ERA (earned run average - per appearance over nine innings) in nine appearances out of the bullpen for Independent Professional Baseball side Amarillo Sox this year.
Holdzkom was a fourth-round pick of the New York Mets in the 2006 Major League Baseball first-year player draft, playing four seasons (2006-08 and 2010) in the Mets system, splitting time between the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets and Kingsport Mets, as well as the Class A Savannah Sand Gnats.
Holdzkom joins Baltimore Orioles rookie Pita Rona as the Kiwi flagbearers in the professional game, while a host of young Kiwis are forging careers in independent and college baseball in the United States and Asia.
The 26-year-old is expected to lead the Diamondblacks on the mound in the next World Baseball Classic in early 2016.