Indians Sign The MLB’s First European Player

Indians Sign European Catcher Cervenka to Minor League Deal

cleveland_indians_logoThe Indians announced on February 21 that they had come to terms with Martin Cervenka to a minor league deal. The deal was originally done on January 24 and the team was just waiting for the right time to make this news public.

To most, this would just seem like yet another player signing a minor league contract, but this one is actually a landmark for baseball. Cervenka is the first Eurpoean Baseball player to sign with a Major League Organizaiton.

The 17-year-old catcher spent much of last season with the equivalent of a European minor league team in Kotlarka, Prague. In addition to his play in Kotlarka, Cervenka also appeared in six games with the Tegola Titans of the Extraleague, a step up from his team in Kotlarka. During those six games, he put up a batting average of .214.

The Indians signed Cervenka to the traditional seven-year contract to play with the organization. Since he is just 17, the Indians have also allowed him to play for Kotlarka during the 2009 season before coming to the United States to continue his development within the Tribe’s farm system.

Cervenka has also played for his national team on various occasions in addition to his involvement with the professional league in the Czeh Republic.

Obviously, Cervenka will not be ready for the majors for some time, which is fine with the Indians who are currently stacked with prospects at the catcher position throughout their farm system. Ever since Mark Shapiro took over as general manager, the old adage that one can never have enough pitching has started to apply to catching as well as the Indians have acquired many minor league catchers through the draft, trades or signings such as this one since he took over.

All of the Indians have reported to spring training and there are no reports that they are in negotiations with anyone else who would be arriving to camp late. If they are to sign anyone else before the season starts, it will probably be an under the radar free agent who can take his hacks in the minor leagues in an attempt to impress those in charge.

Bill Jordan is a contributor to He can be reached by e-mail at

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  1. Ron

    February 25, 2009 at 9:47 am

    He’s not the first European to sign with a major league team. He’s the first from the Czech Republic, but there have been Czechoslovakian players in the majors before.

    It just hasn’t been in a long time.

    Here is a another take on it with links to the original articles.

  2. BillJordan

    February 25, 2009 at 11:36 am

    If anyone has some thoughts on this signing, please share them here.

    Please check out BillJordan’s last blog post..Indians Acquire Salas in Trade with Rays, Designate Marte for Assignment!

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