Baseball without Borders

The Great South West Collegiate League recruits players from around the world to make a difference while expanding their organization, Stephen McNett, General Manager of GSWCL said.
“I have had the luxury of working with foreign players since 2012,” McNett, head coach of the Grand Prairie Pilots said. “I [have] worked with Bahamians, players from Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Japan.”
McNett believes it is crucial to help get these players in front of college and professional scouts.
“I think it’s important to help get these players noticed,” McNett said. “Not only does it help them, but it also grows our fan base globally as well as enhances our overall on-field product.”
Foreign players must overcome a language barrier and incur extra expenses to move to Texas to play in the GSWCL, but it is well worth it, McNett said.
“The language barrier isn’t too great,” McNett said. “We’ve done an outstanding job here at GSWCL with the diversity of our league.”
The goal of recruiting is always to increase the competitiveness of the league regardless of where the player is from, he said.
“Having guys from multiple countries participate allows more opportunities for scouts, both professional and collegiate [to have] more chances to evaluate players,” he said.
In the 2016 season, seven players signed professional contracts and an additional five players signed NCAA Division I scholarship offers, he said.
“We’ve already had multiple NCAA D1 scouts at the games watching guys, as well as, some professional scouts,” he said.
McNett believes that giving players the opportunity to perform while also having the free time to work or take classes is necessary to ensure the players’ success as well as the league’s success.
“For the league, we look for top tier players that either need to get work in during the summer, or graduating seniors that are trying to get picked up to play professionally,” McNett said.
McNett reached out to several players that live in the Bahamas through Facebook, Ian Banks, shortstop for the Denton Dillas said.
“I wanted to play baseball and it wasn’t possible back home,” Banks said. “We don’t have any college teams, and other than that I wanted to get the education as well.”
Banks is attending Faulkner University in Alabama and studying sports management.
“I definitely want to do something with baseball, probably be a coach or a baseball specialist, like either teaching guys how to hit or pitch,” Banks said.
Nolberto Rondon, pitcher for the Grand Prairie Pilots came to America from the Dominican Republic for a good education and more baseball opportunities, Rondon said.
“I pitched against coach McNett’ s school and he invited me [to play] and explained to me everything about this league and the opportunities it provides,” Rondon said.
Rondon came to the United States to pursue an education at Mid-America Christian University and learn more about the great game of baseball, Rondon said.
“[Baseball is] different in the Dominican Republic;” he said, “we focus more on throwing hard and hitting the ball hard than [studying] the game and knowing what to do during every situation during the game.”
Rondon’s goals for this season are to get an opportunity to play professional baseball and, of course, to win the playoffs.
“Back [in the Dominican Republic] baseball is not the same,” Steven Contreras catcher for the Denton Dillas said. “It can be more competitive back home because we play with guys that are way older than us, and they are trying to become a pro-baseball player.”
Contreras’s main goal for the season is to improve some of his weaknesses on the field.
“[Professional baseball is] everyone’s goal since you know that baseball can give your family a better life,” Contreras said.
McNett coached Contreras in high school and recruited him to play for GSWCL this summer because of the opportunities to be scouted, he said.
“I came here because there’s more opportunity here,” Contreras said. “When I came here first all I had in my head was baseball, but I learned that baseball is not all [there is] school is [the] priority here.”

Steven Contreras at bat for the Dillas in a close game against the CageRats.
Photo by Karan Muns