Baseball in NZ gets another breakthrough with 21-year-old Kiwi pitcher drafted by MLB team

Baseball in New Zealand has had something of another breakthrough thanks to 21-year-old Aucklander Ben Thompson.

Thompson has been drafted by Major League Baseball team the Atlanta Braves, becoming just the third New Zealand-born player in history to be drafted into a professional organisation.

But despite the opportunity to become the first Kiwi-born player to reach the major leagues, Thompson has some big choices to make.

Thompson is in Canada currently and told 1 NEWS "all hell broke loose" when he found out he’d been drafted.

"As soon as I got picked, got on the phone and talked to dad," Thompson said.

"Then got mum on the phone as well and talked to her."

When you can pitch at 150km/h, professional baseball teams sit up and take note but the six-foot-five pitcher from Glendowie College in Auckland could delay his journey to The Show.

Currently playing lower division college baseball in Arizona, Thompson must now choose between playing for a top-tier US college or entering the professional system with Atlanta.

He says that decision won’t affect his sleeping patterns, like waiting for the MLB Draft did.

"I'll probably have a better sleep than I did last night - last night was a nervous one."

Scott Campbell, the first New Zealand-born player to be drafted into the MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays, says Thompson needs to make the call himself.

"Don't let anyone else make the decision for you," Campbell said.

"If [his] heart's set on being a professional baseball player and [he's] comfortable with the position the Braves have put him in, then go for it."

Campbell came close to making the majors 10 years ago and said the journey ahead for Thompson will be tough.

"Everyday it's business, it's a chance to win or lose a spot on a team," he said.

"That's something he'll have to learn very quickly if he goes down that professional path."

But Thompson says he’s excited.

"I think [Atlanta] see what I am now, and they're excited by what I can be in the future."

Your playlist will load after this ad

Ben Thompson now has the choice of playing for top US college or going pro in the Atlanta Braves’ system. Source: 1 NEWS