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Ngoepe claims DPOY award
Sydney shortstop named Defensive Player of the Year
02/19/2019 12:37 AM ET

After lighting up the league in his debut season, Sydney shortstop Gift Ngoepe has been honoured with the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year award.

The South African native logged 295.1 innings at shortstop this season, as he consistently displayed his MLB calibre defence.

As well as his defensive prowess, Ngoepe was the lynchpin of the Blue Sox offence, finishing with six homers and 32 RBI.

Ngoepe formed one of the most exciting infield duos the ABL has ever seen, combining with Dywane Kemp to anchor Sydney's infield.

"Kemp and I have a great understanding when we play," Ngoepe said.

"We have fun every time we take the field, we have great chemistry and I love playing with him."

Ngoepe joins Yankees star Didi Gregorius as MLB shortstops to be honoured with the ABL defensive player of the year.

"I feel blessed to be amongst guys like Didi to have won this award," he said.

"I am really happy and grateful to be voted the ABL's defensive player of the year."

Blue Sox manager Tony Harris has nothing but praise for Ngoepe, outlining his consummate professionalism on and off the field.

"Gift is an outstanding individual," Harris said

"His defence is elite, it's a major reason why he's spent time at the big league level.

"He was a leader out there for us, taking control of the middle infield and setting the pace from a work-ethic standpoint.

"I think he has a real chance to be a long-term major leaguer."

After making his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017, Ngoepe has signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2019 season, with an invite to Major League Spring Training.

ABL Defensive Player of the Year winners:

2010/11: Didi Gregorius (Canberra Cavalry)
2011/12: Allan de San Miguel (Perth Heat)
2012/13: Stefan Welch (Adelaide Bite), Allan de San Miguel (Perth Heat)
2013/14: Joey Wong (Perth Heat)
2014/15: Joey Wong (Perth Heat)
2015/16: Allan de San Miguel (Perth Heat)
2016/17: Allan de San Miguel (Melbourne Aces)
2017/18: Darryl George (Melbourne Aces)
2018/19: Gift Ngoepe (Sydney Blue Sox)

Stay tuned as the ABL's 2018/19 Reliever of the Year will be announced on Friday 22 February.

All six of the ABL's 2018/19 Awards (Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year,, Reliever of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Brett Brothers Batting Champion and Helms Award) were determined by a 3-2-1 vote conducted by each of the 2018/19 ABL Managers.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.