Today, our website is very honoured to interview one of the best pitchers in Europe, Diegomar Markwell. Born in the Netherlands Antilles, he has been playing for Neptunus since 2005 and reached 100 wins in the Hoofdklasse last year. He played in all world competitions with his National team and became a World Champion in 2011 with the Oranje.
The Strike Out : You were born in the Dutch Carribean, and despite the smallness of these islands, a lot of good baseball players -like your nephew, Andruw Jones- come from there. How would you explain that ?
Diegomar Markwell : I think part of it is due to the fields we learned to play on. They were bad when we were growing up, and kids take pride in practice and have the discipline to get better everyday.
TSO : You signed a good bonus (for an European player) at a very young age to play in the Blue Jays organization. Wasn’t it too hard for a young man to be subject to such high expectations ?
D.M : Yes I did get a good signing bonus and I was thankful to my parents for allowing that, and making sure that I could be myself in the future if I didn’t make it to the big leagues. It wasn’t so hard, because I have always dreamt of making it to the major leagues, and when you sign it becomes a job. You have to work hard to be better, to move up the ladder, and as a 16 year old they don’t expect you to make it to the big leagues within 1 or 2 years. You need to do a lot of development to make it there.
TSO : With the benefit of hindsight, how would you assess your seven years in the minor league system ? How did this period help you during your career in the Netherlands ?
D.M : I think those years in the minor leagues helped me a lot, even though I developed late and started really improving during my last couple of years. I think all those things they were trying to teach me finally came together, and helped me greatly through my career in the Netherlands after I managed digesting all my learning.
TSO : After the Cardinals released you, did you think you were done with baseball ? Did you think about a new career in Europe ?
D.M : After they released me, I didn’t know what to expect. I made some trials, but I didn’t even think about the Netherlands, as I was still trying to get into another Major League team.
TSO : How did you end up in the Netherlands ?
D.M : I was contacted by Robert Eenhoorn, who asked me if I wanted to take part in the Olympics and I said yes, absolutely! So he said you have to come and play here in the Netherland, and this is how I joined Sparta/Feyenoord. Then, after the Olympics, I was transferred to Neptunus.
TSO : With your experience, could you tell us how much Dutch baseball has improved since your first year in Neptunus ?
D.M : I think the league is getting much better. I especially learned much from top pitcher Rob Cordemans, who was my teammate in 2005, on how to attack hitters and what to expect from them.
TSO : Was your integration easy in Neptunus ?
D.M : It wasn’t easy, since I joined a team which had won seven championships in a row. I had to prove myself as a 2nd pitcher, and I had to show that I could handle the league and bring my team to another championship title.
TSO : After your great World Cup in 2005, did you receive any offers from U.S teams ?
D.M : I didn’t receive any offers. I talked with a few teams in Indy Ball, but I hoped a MLB club might offer me a contract.
TSO : You are one of the greatest pitchers in Europe. How do you manage to keep such a high level of performance, year after year ?
D.M : I do it by working hard everyday, to get better and perform at a high level. On top of that, Neptunus is a great team, so « on paper » we just have to compete to win a championship and perform with the national team at a high level and be the best you can be.
TSO : You’ve played in all the international competitions with the Netherlands what are the highlights of your career ?
D.M : My highlights are of course winning the best pitcher award during the 2005 World Cup, and also the World Championship in 2011. I also had a great World Baseball Classic in 2013, and last year I won my 100th game in the Hoofdklasse here in the Netherlands. And obviously, there are those 6 championships I have won with Neptunus.
- Best pitcher in the 2005 World Cup
- Pitcher of the Year in the Hoofdklasse (2006)
- 100 wins in the Hoofdklasse
- 1.78 career ERA in the Hoofdklasse
- World Champion in 2011
- 6 times Hoofdklasse Champion with Neptunus