The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a little bit of history.
The Pirates placed utility man Adam Frazier on the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Monday, and called up right-handed reliever Dovydas Neverauskas. Neverauskas is the first Lithuanian-born player in MLB history.
Here's video of Neverauskas, 24, pitching in the 2016 Futures Game at Petco Park:
As MLB.com's Adam Berry wrote last summer, Neverauskas started playing baseball at 6 years old in Vilnius, Lithuania, where his father promotes the sport and coaches various club and Little League teams. Here's more from Berry:
Neverauskas tagged along with his father during trips to America in 2006 and '07. He couldn't watch any Major League games on TV back home, but he attended an A's game in person in '06. He pitched in more competitive environments.
"It was one step forward," he said. "Playing here, better teams, better fields, a better experience."
Neverauskas attended the 2008 and '09 MLB European Academy camps in Italy. He signed with the Pirates in July '09, the first player to sign a professional baseball deal out of Lithuania. Former Pirates scout Tom Randolph discovered Neverauskas when Pittsburgh was actively seeking to unearth talent in places others seldom bothered to look: India, South Africa, the Netherlands and Lithuania.
So far this season Neverauskas has allowed four runs (three earned) in 8 1/3 Triple-A relief innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Last season he had a 3.10 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
MLB.com ranked Neverauskas as the 23rd best prospect in Pittsburgh's farm system coming into this season. Here's a snippet of their scouting report:
(The Pirates) added Neverauskas to the 40-man roster in the offseason because his fastball-slider-cutter combination certainly would've garnered some interest in the Rule 5 Draft. Now in shorter stints, he'll throw his fastball in the 95-98 mph range while mixing in those effective sliders and cutters, both Major League average pitches. He goes right after hitters, missing bats and inducing weak contact on the ground. ... He has the chance to impact the big league bullpen soon, with a ceiling of a setup man.
Yan Gomes became the first Brazilian-born player in MLB history in 2012. Now we have a player from Lithuania. Baseball is truly a global game, and hopefully Neverauskas' success inspires many others to pick up a baseball.