When one thinks of countries that play baseball, they will probably name a long list of countries before they get around to naming South Africa. That may eventually change as the games has exploded in that country. The growth of baseball in South Africa is most likely second in the world to China.
Since the early to mid '90's MLB has put forth a great deal of investment into South Africa's baseball future. The government of South Africa has been extremely influential as well in getting baseball off the ground, as they see it as a way to unify the country in sport, after the years of Apartheid.
The main avenue for one to a take part in baseball in the country is with the programs in the schools. MLB has given enormous amounts of funding to provide equipment, which is still in short supply, so that these schools can organize and play. Some of the best players in the country get invited to the MLB European Baseball Academy, as South Africa is lumped in with Europe by the MLB's International Offices. In addition to the academy in Europe, the country also has a national team that competes in tournaments, the Olympics, and the World Baseball Classic.
One can look at South Africa and see it as a combination of Australia and the Dominican. It has ties to the British Empire, so sports like cricket are very popular, but a large segment of the country is poor, and baseball is cheap to play. It is because of this that many see a large population of ballplayers in South Africa, in situations similar to that of the Dominican players.
What kind of growth can be expected? It will only continue to go up. Baseball popularity had a bump after the WBC, and the influence of American television, as well as continued MLB investment, it will continue to grow. Next year the government intends to open an academy for baseball, that will train and prepare players for attempting to reach the majors. That will go a long way as well towards developing talent.
As of right now there are a few agents and teams are in the region. The country is still in a growth phase and has not reached a point where it is producing a lot of talent. That is no knock on the players, it is just that baseball has not had much time to grow, the country has only taken the sport seriously in the last decade or so. Teams like the Dodgers, Brewers, Royals, and the Mariners have gotten players from the country.
For the Pirates they would need to establish, once again, a scouting presence in the country, they don't currently have a scout there. Combine that with a relationship with the future academy there, and we may see some potential.
If there is a place where you literally can get in on the ground floor, South Africa is it. If the team wants to take a chance, one that would cost little money, but have tremendous upside, South Africa is a place to look hard at. Once it takes off, everyone will be down there. It is best to be there for that boom, then to try to get in after the boom.