Rebel pitcher signs with Twins
Nineteen year-old Mulgrave import Markus Solbach this weekend signed a professional contract with the Minnesota Twins that offers him the opportunity to pursue a lifetime dream of making baseball his career.....
A German national who spent four years in the United States as a youngster, right-armed Markus Solbach accepted an invitation to play Summer League with Division Two Mulgrave Rebels as a means of strengthening his skills and putting himself out there as a pitching prospect.
Previously playing with Pulheim Gophers in the German League, Solbach’s potential has clearly been recognised by Minnesota Twins International Scouting Director Howie Norsetter, who inked the deal with the young man at Fitzroy Baseball Club on Saturday.
“We’ve known about him for a while,” said Norsetter, a man who has been travelling the world in search of baseball talent for the past two decades.
“I see in Markus a projectable talent with positive attitude and great drive to succeed. He is athletic, has a good arm action and has a chance of throwing the ball consistently hard, with some decent breaking stuff.”
“His progression has been freakish,” Norsetter said. “He has grown 30 cm – or a foot - in the past year and has gained throwing velocity over the past few months alone.”
Now a towering 195 centimetres (nearly six feet five), Solbach has been clocked regularly since arriving in Australia prior to Christmas. His velocity has increased from 85 mph to the magical 90 mph – a remarkable acceleration and one that bodes well for future development.
Solbach in Germany
Pitching for Mulgrave Rebels this summer, Solbach has been impressive over fifty-six innings of work for an ERA of 3.21 with seventy-three strikeouts.
Solbach will return home to Germany later this month – for a break – before heading to the Twins extended spring training at Fort Myers in April. He will attend the Major League Baseball Academy on the Gold Coast during June and July - and he will be back playing in Australia next summer season.
After completing spring training with the Twins early next year, Solbach will be assigned to an affiliate club in rookie or single A for the 2012 season. As several Australian players can attest, the Twins have a consistent record of keeping newly-signed and committed players for four, five or six years to allow them full scope to realise their potential.
While he is unlikely to be playing with Melbourne Aces next summer, that possibility has not been ruled out just yet.
Understandably thrilled with the opportunity that has been presented, Solbach is effusive in his appreciation of those who have assisted him in reaching this stage of his baseball journey.
“My parents have helped me all the way,” Solbach said. “They knew – from when I started playing twelve years ago – that baseball was a real love. They said that if baseball was what I wanted to do, then they would always support me.”
“I am really excited. This has been my dream since I was a little kid.”
Instrumental in helping get Solbach over here, Raging Bull Sports Properties Management has keenly followed his progress, with principals John Edwards and David Calthorpe delighted with how Mulgrave has welcomed and managed the emerging prospect.
Fitzroy ace Matt Kemp – a United States import who knew Solbach from the German League – has provided great support and guidance over the course of the summer, along with the Mulgrave coaching staff.
Solbach becomes the sixth German national to sign a professional contract in what may be a sign of things to come.
“We’ve been one of the first clubs to take an interest in European and Australian athletes,” Howie Norsetter said. “Europe is an exciting proposition. They have a big population, with big athletes. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Germany, but their baseball people have a refreshing attitude to their sport.”
It has been a cooperative, combined effort between baseball people that has helped bring Solbach to this point – whilst delivering positive benefits for all concerned. Without spending this season with Mulgrave, Solbach may not have been afforded the opportunity to showcase his outstanding pitching potential.
“I grew, I got stronger and I got help here in Australia,” Solbach told Fitzroy Baseball Club in a radio interview. “I’ve had good coaching in the past twelve months,” he said, making special mention of Kemp and Mulgrave Manager Wade Clester.
“Thanks to Matt Kemp, to Mulgrave, to Howie – and to the Pulheim Gophers for supporting me over the past twelve years,” he said.
“Thanks to everyone who I’ve ever played with and everyone who has ever coached me.”
with Howie Norsetter