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Ntema Ndungidi

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Ntema Ndungidi (Papy)

BR Minors page

[edit] Biographical Information

Ntema Ndungidi was born in Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo) but grew up in Montréal, QC. In spite of limited baseball experience (he had not played ball until high school), he was drafted because of his tremendous athletic skills. A first-round sandwich pick of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1997 amateur draft (their third first-rounder of the year, after Jayson Werth and Darnell McDonald), he was a compensation pick for the loss of David Wells to free agency. Ndungidi was the first African native to play for an affiliated minor league team in the USA and almost was the first Canadian player taken in the first round - Kevin Nicholson was taken 9 spots earlier as the first. It should also be noted that the Montreal Expos held the pick after the Orioles selected Ndungidi and were expected to take the local star had Baltimore not beaten them to the punch.

Ndungidi began his pro career with the 1997 GCL Orioles, hitting .185/~.333/.370, showing good plate discipline (12 BB in 18 G), some power and some speed (4 SB in 4 attempts) though poor contact. In 1998, Ntema batted .295/~.396/.490 with the Bluefield Orioles. Baseball America rated him the #8 prospect in the Appalachian League. The next season, Ndungidi split the year between the Frederick Keys (.266/~.390/.349) and the Delmarva Shorebirds (.194/~.355/.249, 18 for 20 in steals), continuing to show very good ability to coax walks.

The African-Canadian player had a career year in 2000, putting up a .284/.399/.457 line with Frederick (16-21 in SB) and batting .235/.366/.346 for the Bowie Baysox. He was a backup LF for the World team in the 2000 Futures Game. However, things suddenly turned ugly for Ndungidi when he was suspended by the Orioles during the Arizona Fall League season that November for "strange behavior", notably arriving at the team complex in civilian clothes, talking to his locker and picking fights with teammates.

The cause of Ndugidi's psychological problems was never explained but when the next year started, he was not the same player. He struggled at AA, only managing a .212/.296/.295 line in 104 games with Bowie, drawing just 37 walks, hitting 3 homers and stealing 3 in 8 tries. He fielded just .933 in the outfield, making for a rough year on all fronts. He was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the AAA phase of the 2001 Rule V Draft but hit only .138/.286/.138 with the San Antonio Missions in 2002 and was returned to Baltimore, where he batted .222/.335/.344 for Frederick.

In 2003, he was signed by the Expos in the offseason but failed to land a spot in their minor league organization in the spring. He was released and played in an independent league in his home province of Quebec, hitting .233/.343/.467 for Les Capitales de Québec to wrap up his career.

His brother Sambu Ndungidi followed him into the minor leagues.

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