The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

June 6, 2013

Untouchable, Unhittable, Unbeatable Unsworth

(Continued)

In Single-A Clinton, Unsworth joins teammates Dario Pizzano, Tyler Marlette, Jabari Henry and Tyler Pike on the 2013 Midwest League All-Star roster, pieces of the prized Mariners puzzle.

Even then he stands apart with one of the most unique pedigrees in pro baseball. He's a native of Durban, South Africa (near Cape Town), a country foreign to baseball that has yet to be represented in the majors. In the Clinton clubhouse, it's easy to pinpoint his brogue above the clamber ("Cah-mown guys!").

In high school, Unsworth said he played rugby, cricket and soccer. ...

"But baseball was always there. It was always the first choice," he said. "Once people back home saw the potential in me, they started pushing me more, and I started focusing more and pushing the other sports away.

"They started saying, 'Hey, you've got a future in baseball.' I just believed in that, took it aside and carried it from there."

Unsworth turned heads on the world stage when he was named among the 50 best players in Europe in his mid-teens. He was also selected to play for the South African national team, where he began talking to MLB scouts.

"I got back to South Africa after playing internationally," Unsworth said. "A Mariners scout was there with a contract. That's how it all got started."

He signed a week before his 17th birthday as an undrafted free agent on Sept. 15, 2009. The franchise shipped him to the Arizona Rookie League the following spring, where he received his first taste of American baseball culture.

"Baseball-wise, the sport's a lot bigger here," he said.

Since his minors debut, Unsworth has made steady improvements and climbed the ladder. In 2010, his record was 2-5 with a 3.93 ERA (plus a 44:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio). He jumped to six wins, five losses in Pulaski of the Appalachian League the next year and 7-2 with short-season-A Everett, (Wash.) last season.

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