Traditionally, Major League Baseball players come from two places: The United States and Canada and Latin America. Lately, Asia has joined the ranks in as far as supplying Major League Baseball with talent. Other than that, places like Africa and Europe have done little to produce professional baseball talent. That doesn't mean teams won't look for the diamond in the rough in those areas.
The Pirates are no exceptions. Recently, the Pirates have signed two players from India, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, and a player from South Africa, Gift Ngeope. Negope and Singh are still in the minor league system and both have an outside shot of one day being big leaguers. In addition to those signings, the Pirates had two intriguing pitchers on their GCL squad this year, both from Eastern Europe. Dovydas Neverauskas hails from Lithuania while Alex Lukashevich is a native of Belarus.
Measurables: 6'3, 175
Throws: R, Bats: R
Neverauskas signed out of Lithuania in 2009. He was assigned to the GCL as a 6'3, 175 pound, 17 year-old in 2010. Neverauskas's age and frame suggested significant projection and the ability to add velocity. He pitched 10 innings, walking 5 batters while striking out 6.
Neverauskas returned to the GCL in 2011 via reports that he was sitting in the low 90's while touching 95, very good velocity for a 18 year-old, generating hope that he had begun to fill out. In his second season, Neverauskas still pitched sparingly out of the pen, recording 25 innings pitched and similar walk and strikeout rates.
2012 was a big year for Neverauskas. He finally pitched out of the rotation and logged 35.1 innings, striking out an impressive 29 batters. He also gave up 37 hits and walked 18 batters, showing control problems. Still, he was only 19, raw, and displayed good velocity with reports of him hitting 95 and higher with his fastball. In a late season trial at State College, Neverauskas pitched 4 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, while striking out 4 batters. Neverauskas will be 20 next year, and the Pirates could choose to be aggressive and start him in the West Virginia Power rotation. Even if he just pitches at State College, Neverauskas has some legitimate potential and bears watching.
Measurables: 6'4, 160
Throws: R, Bats: R
Lukashevich actually offers more projection than his Eastern European, Russian-speaking counterpart. Standing at 6'4 and just 160 pounds when signed out of Belarus in 2010, Lukashevich already threw in the high 80's, good velocity for a young, raw pitcher.
However, by 2011, Lukashevich reportedly had his velocity drop off a bit. That season, Lukashevich did not appear in any games professionally, instead staying in instructionals for the entire year, mainly due to injury.
In 2012, Lukashevich made his professional debut for the GCL Pirates, pitching 19 innings of relief. In those 19 innings, Lukashevich only gave up 14 hits and 1 earned run, but also walked 8 while striking out 12. 5 of those walks came in Lukashevich's final 2 appearances. It's unclear if Lukashevich regained any of his velocity and he will return to the GCL in 2012 barring a big surprise. Lukashevich will start next season at age 18 and is intriguing enough to bear watching.