FORT MYERS, Fla. — As we first reported the other day, the Red Sox have signed a 17-year-old softball catcher from New Zealand named Te Wara Bishop.
Red Sox Pacific Rim scouting coordinator Jon Deeble was nice enough to e-mail some more information on Bishop, who uses his middle name Beau.
Here’s what Jon had to say:
“He is one of the top softball players in NZ, I don’t think it is unusual for a softball player to sign, it is basically the same game played on a smaller field with a bigger ball and the ball comes from another direction.
“He has showed us good raw power and good defensive skills. He will need to make some adjustments we just need to be patient with him. He is a strong young man; he is going to take some time.”
According to Theo Epstein, who has watched Bishop on tape, he has a strong frame and scouts considered him the best softball player to come out of New Zealand in 20 years. And by softball, we’re talking the fast-pitch, international game. Not the local beer league.
The plan is for Bishop to work in extended spring training, getting 200 at-bats, before heading to the Australian Baseball Academy to continue learning the game. At 17, he has plenty of time to develop.
When he’s in the States, Bishop will work with catching instructor Chad Epperson.
There has never been a major leaguer from New Zealand. But as baseball expands internationally, it certainly makes sense to look everywhere for prospects. You can’t teach athletic ability, but it certainly can be refined.