With the top-division (D1) baseball season looming on the horizon, there’s been a fair amount of talk recently about the arrival of import players from the U.S. — guys like the Andy Cosgrove, who’s on his way to the Montpellier Barracudas, and Danny Wilson, a future member of the Metz Cometz.
But the Atlantic Ocean isn’t a one-way street for baseball and softball talent. There are also a number of French players trying to make a go of it in the U.S. right now, a few professionally but most as members of university or junior college teams.
Here are a five French players* currently pursuing their ball-player dreams aux États-Unis:
Together with pitcher Yoan Antonac (Philadelphia Phillies farm system), Martínez, 21, is one of just two French players currently playing in the U.S. minor leagues. Signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, the Cuban-born first baseman is expected to play in the Class A Midwest League this year.
The website Prospects1500 recently put Martínez 28th on its list of the “Top 50” Brewers prospects. “[He] has the best power in the Brewers system,” the publication claims. The site also describes him as “an excellent athlete in a large 6’6, 230 pound frame” with a chance of developing into an “intimidating middle-of-the-order hitter.”
With their respective collegiate seasons getting under way right now, some of the young French players in the U.S. are already turning heads. One of those is Brossier, a freshman at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Leadoff hitter last season for the Montpellier Barracudas D1 team, the speedy outfielder was recently named France’s top youth prospect (along with Mathys Nayral) by the French Baseball and Softball Federation (FFBS).
Brossier has drawn accolades in Florida as well, where he has twice been named “player of the game” for his contributions to the HCC Hawks baseball team. The young Frenchman is batting .280 so far this season in eight games played.
Playing alongside Brossier on the Hawks is his friend and Montpellier teammate Fabi Kovacs, who is batting .304 in six games played. A catcher, Kovacs has seven hits so far this year (including a triple) and four RBIs in 23 at bats.
Kovacs and Brossier were also highschool classmates in France, and in late 2018 were both selected by Major League Baseball (MLB) to travel to Arizona for a special international training workshop. Both players are hoping to rejoin the Barracudas once the school year ends in Florida.
A member of the French women’s national softball team since 2017, Rogron is still just 18 years old (soon to be 19). She was also a member of the D1 champion Saint-Raphaël Comanches the past two seasons, and in 2019 posted a ridiculous .537 batting average for the club (she also hit three of the team’s four home runs on the season).
This year, Rogron is attending Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas with a full scholarship. The team is 7-4 so far. The young Frenchwoman plays third base and shortstop. Rogron is currently batting .226 with seven hits in 31 at bats. But after a slow start to the season, she appears to be warming up.
Just last week (on Feb. 13), playing against Hinds Community College, she went three-for-four with her first home run of the season, one of just six so far by the entire team. Rogron also has six RBIs.
Speaking of home runs… Baseball player turned softballer Mélissa Mayeux recently began her first season as a member of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns softball team, in the highest level (Division 1) of U.S. collegiate sports.
And in her first game (on Feb. 7) — boom! The 21-year-old phenom hit a three-run blast for a walk-off win over the University of Texas at San Antonio. “She’s got tremendous power,” her coach, Gerry Glasco, told the Acadiana Advocate. “She’s got tremendous potential.”
Mayeux showed off that power again earlier this week against Louisiana State University, ending a mini slump by going 2-3 with another home run. “I learned about Mélissa Mayeux today,” Glasco said, again to the Acadiana Advocate. “Mayeux doesn’t ever have to doubt herself again. She belongs on the field at the top level of college softball.”
Arguably the best-known player in France, Mayeux made waves starting five years ago when she became the first woman in history to be pre-selected by MLB. She was also the first women to play in France’s D1 baseball league.
To be a student-player in the U.S., however, she had to switch to softball. In 2017 she enrolled at Miami Dade College in Florida, hitting a team-high .377 as a freshman with eight home runs. She played two seasons at the junior college before transferring to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
*The players highlighted here are by no means the only French nationals playing in the U.S.