New Zealand’s top baseball prospect Makauley Fox is heading to study and play baseball at Oregon State University after securing a full scholarship from the prestigious United States school.
Born in Australia but raised in New Zealand, the 17-year-old Aucklander is in his final year at ACG Parnell College in Auckland and will move to the United States at the beginning of 2014.
Spurning a number of offers from Major League Baseball teams to choose Oregon State, the left-handed pitcher raised a number of eyebrows with his five shutout innings in pitching the New Zealand Diamondblacks to its history making first ever win against Thailand at the World Baseball Classic qualifier in Taiwan in November.
He was then targeted by a number of top colleges - choosing Oregon State, a university that current Boston Red Sox star outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury attended.
After studying at Oregon State, Fox could enter the Major League Baseball draft - where he could get scooped up by a top US team.
“It’s a huge blessing to be given such an amazing opportunity,” Fox, who recently toured the Oregon State campus, said.
“In going and seeing for ourselves the possibilities and having the opportunity to talk to people like Bill Caudill from the Boras Agency (the top baseball agent in the world), I quickly felt that this was the right pathway for me.
“[The university trip] has shown me that there are many different opportunities available through baseball, and I see first-hand now that if you train hard and also work hard in school—that this has become a reality and I can’t wait to begin.’’
Recent years have seen the likes of Wellington’s Te Wera Bishop and Auckland’s Pita Rona signed directly with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles as teenagers - but Baseball New Zealand chief executive Ryan Flynn believes the decision to gain an education while learning to be a better ball player, is a great call.
“It’s a difficult decision when so many professional scouts and collegiate coaches are chasing you to effectively sign with their organization or institution, but it’s also a positive and wonderful time in a young man’s life when you have options,’’ he said.
“Of course we think he’s going to be incredibly successful on the baseball field as well, and we believe that he has as bright a future as any baseball player New Zealand has ever produced.”
Oregon State University is based in Corvallis, Oregon, about 140km south of Portland, and won the NCAA Division 1 titles in baseball in 2006 and 2007.
Fellow Aucklander Daniel Devonshire was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays last season. He, after Bishop and Rona, is the third New Zealander currently contracted by a top professional team in the United States.
- © Fairfax NZ News