David Matoma: Uganda 16-year-old pitcher signs for MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates
Gilgil, Kenya | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan teams have qualified for the WBSC U-18 and U-12 Baseball World Cups. The first ever WBSC U-12 Baseball and Africa U-18 World Cup Qualifier was held in Gilgil, Nakuru County, Kenya from 24th to 29th January.
World No. 41 Uganda swept No. 54 ranked Kenya in a best-of-five playoff on Wednesday and qualified for the XXXI WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup. Uganda outscored Kenya 24-1, 25-1, and 32-1.
Uganda’s Musa Bogere earned MVP honours.
Uganda became the eighth team to qualify for the XXI U-18 Baseball World Cup after Spain and Netherlands qualified through the U-18 European Championship; USA, Panama, Mexico, and Venezuela were the top four finishers of the Americas Qualifier, and Australia won the Oceania Qualifier. The United States are the defending champions.
Uganda is No. 41 in WBSC Men’s Baseball World Rankings, the second African country in the rankings after No. 25 South Africa.
Kenya hosted the first-ever WBSC Africa U-18 World Cup Qualifier in Gilgil, a city in southwestern Nakuru County which recently also hosted the U-12 Baseball World Cup Qualifier. The Baseball Federation of Kenya and the Nakuru County government co-organised the event.
🌍⚾️ Baseball is a global thing!
— WBSC ⚾🥎 (@WBSC) January 30, 2023
Uganda shines, comes top in U12 qualifiers
Earlier, Uganda became the third National Team to qualify for the seventh WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup as they won an historic Africa Qualifier undefeated. They join Germany and Czechia, the winner and the runner-up of the U-12 European Championship.
Uganda beat Kenya (11-2 and 5-1) and Tanzania (18-1 and 13-2) in the January 24-26 tournament.
Kenya finished second with two wins against Tanzania, 8-3 and 12-5.
Uganda’s Jagwe Wazil earned MVP honours.
The VII WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup is scheduled from July 28 to August 6 at Tainan’s Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium, Taiwan.
Teams qualify to the 12-team tournament through their respective continental championships or through a wild card:
The United States won the sixth edition of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup last year.
Uganda’s Matoma heading to US
🖊️⚾ David Matoma: Uganda 16-year-old pitcher signs for MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates
🇺🇬 He is the third player from Uganda to have a chance in US-affiliated baseball.
— WBSC ⚾🥎 (@WBSC) January 27, 2023
David Matoma, a Ugandan 16-year-old pitcher has signed for MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates.
He is the third player from Uganda to have a chance in US-affiliated baseball after Ben Serunkuma and Umar Male signed for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB) in early 2022.
The Serunkuma and Male deal last year reportedly included a US$ 10,000 signing bonus and a US$ 10,000 education bonus for both players.
Matoma heard from his coach Bernard Okello that a scout showed interest in him. He asked for the scout’s name. He found out it was Tom Gillespie, tracked him down through social media and started sending him videos.
“Technology makes it a lot easier,” Gillespie told The Athletic. “I’ve been able to keep tabs on David with video, see the pocket radars, and get an idea of how the velocity was improving and how that matched up with what I was seeing with my eyes.”
Matoma grew up playing cricket and soccer in Luwero, in the Central Region of Uganda. He was introduced to baseball in 2010 and started playing in boarding school in 2016.
The right-hander will report to the Dominican Republic for camp in early February. Okello, who had a playing experience in Japan, will serve as a guest coach for three weeks.
Matoma may be given a chance at different positions too. “He keeps trying to tell me he can hit, too,” Gillespie told MLB.com.