South Africas leading exports are gold, diamonds, platinum, metals and machinery. Baseball players rank low on the list.
Tayler Scott is hoping to make a small dent in that statistic.
The new Boise Hawks pitcher wants to become the first South African to make it to the major leagues.
Thats the dream, he said.
Scott, 20, will be in uniform when the Hawks begin their season Friday night at the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He is scheduled to start the third game of the series Sunday.
Ive been counting the days, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander said.
When the day does come, it will be another step in an unlikely journey.
Scott grew up in a land where rugby, soccer and cricket rule. He played a lot of soccer as a boy, and became interested in baseball almost by chance.
I was about 10, and I just kind of saw it in the newspaper, Scott said. It became another one of the sports I played to keep me out of trouble. ... After a while, I started getting good at it.
Scott said his father recognized the need for a drastic change if he was going to seriously pursue the sport.
Hes the one that said, If you want to play baseball, youve got to go to America, Scott said.
So Scott attended a few baseball camps as a teenager before making the full-time leap to the United States when he was 16. He enrolled at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz.
A few years later, Scott was one of the hottest pitching prospects in the country. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and played on the Cubs rookie league team in Arizona last summer.
Hawks pitching coach David Rosario said Scott is an eager student.
As pitching coaches, were not only looking at physical talent, but the ability of these kids to learn, to make adjustments, to take information and use it, Rosario said. And this kid is very smart. Hes a special athlete. ... Hes probably one of the better athletes on this team.
That athleticism has allowed Scott to pick up the game at a rapid rate.
Every year, you can just tell that things are going up and up and up, he said.
Scotts talent, mixed with his potential, is why the Cubs drafted him and signed him to a $279,950 contract.
As an organization, we have a lot of hope for him, Rosario said. I just hope that he stays healthy and he grows into his frame, because he can be really good.
Scott said there have been discussions about him representing South Africa in the World Baseball Classic, which is next March.
In the meantime, he wont be hard to miss in the Hawks clubhouse. Hes the one with the South African accent and the wide smile.
Its been so much fun, Scott said of his short time as a pro athlete. Its really exciting.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424