Archive for the 'Australia' Category

Top Prospects from Australia

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Not a lot of these players will ever see the major leagues but they are the top prospects from Australia based on my assessments. In all honesty I don’t know a lot about Aussie players because I have not seen many of them play. My assessments are geared basically on the numbers they put up in the minor leagues and what little is written about them. Most of these players made the World Baseball Classic team so there was some information gleamed from those games. Only Warwick Saupold from the list put together last year got a sniff in the major leagues.

1. Aaron Whitefield OF (Twins) - To think he was just a softball player a couple years ago. He has only been playing baseball since 2015 when the Twins signed him to a contract. Now he has gone from playing on the Australian national softball team to the Australian World Baseball Classic team. He only played in one game and got one at bat, yielding to Aussie veterans Trent Oeltjen, Mitch Denning and David Kandilas. Last year he played in rookie ball where he hit .298 with only a .736 OPS. As he plays the game more the bat should improve once he improves his ability to make contact. Last year he struck out 47 times in 51 games. He shows excellent speed with 31 stolen bases in 40 attempts. He could start in Low A in 2017.

2. Lewis Thorpe LHP (Twins) - He ranked atop this list last year. Tommy John surgery has prevented him from playing in 2015 and 2016. The Twins paid out a $500,000 bonus to him in 2012. Aussies are usually not hard throwers but Lewis can hit the radar in the mid-90s prior to the surgery. He also has a plus change to complement the fastball. The Twins will be patient with him. Expect him to work on his delivery in extended spring training and to limit his innings he will probably start in the rookie leagues. In 2014 he started 16 games and struck out 10 hitters per nine innings while limiting the opposition to a .232 average. There was some upside there before the injury.

3. Warwick Saupold RHP (Tigers) - We first saw him pitch in Taiwan at the Asian Series. His fastball hit the mid-90s, but the opposition hit it pretty good so it is probably a little too straight to the plate. He was a late sign by the Tigers in 2012 as a 22 year old. He played for the 2013 and 2017 Aussie WBC teams. The Aussies gave him a start and he threw four shutout innings against Cuba. In the Australian Baseball League he is used as a closer. When the Tigers brought him up they used him in six games of relief, though the opposition feasted on him for a .395 average. He still was able to strike out a batter per inning. In AAA he was more effective, used as both a starter and reliever, compiling an impressive 2.30 ERA. He will begin the 2017 season in AAA and at 27 years of age his prospect days are pretty well done.

4. and 5. Lachlan Wells and Alex Wells LHP (Twins and Orioles) - The two pitchers are twins in the literal sense of the word. Lachlan is the only Twin from a baseball perspective. He is the more established pitcher climbing up to High A. In 12 starts he stitched together a 1.77 ERA limiting the opposition to a .218 average. Lachlan is not overpowering and his 5′8″ height may limit his major league opportunities. Alex may offer more of an upside. He stands 6′2″ but still lacks overpowering stuff. Alex signed a year after Lachlan and pitched at rookie level Aberdeen last year. Expect Lachlan to be promoted to the Florida State League while Alex will see time in a full season league, starting at Low A. Both pitchers made the roster for the WBC team but only Lachlan appeared in a game, getting two relief appearances and getting smoked for four runs in only 2.2 innings.

6.Robbie Perkins C (Rockies) - Robbie is the first player who did not appear on the list last year. He ripped through the ABL in the winter, hitting .353 with three homeruns with a 1.023 OPS. Last year he was limited to just 15 games in the California League hitting .238. In the WBC he got one opportunity, striking out in his lone at bat. At 20 years old there appears to be a lot of upside in Perkins, so we will put him on this list and wait to see how his career develops.

7. Todd Von Steensel RHP (Twins) - At 26 Todd is getting up there to be considered a prospect. He did get five relief appearances in AA and pitched well crafting a 2.25 ERA. His efforts at High A were not as successful (4.12 ERA). Command was a big issue with 27 walks in 54 innings. In 2015 he was used as a closer with 13 saves but in 2016 those saves did not come so easy. In the WBC Todd appeared in one game and did not allow a run in his one inning of work. This will be the big year for him. He should start the season in AA which is a knock on the door away from the major leagues if he shows some success.

8. Jon Kennedy LHP (Braves) - Jon is a big 6′5″ lefthander. At 21 years old the Braves can show some patience with him. His fastball sits in the low 90s, velocity good enough for a lefthander with his height. Trying to find success is a big challenge. With the Braves he has been used exclusively out of the bullpen in his first year of professional baseball, putting together a 4.40 ERA. He returned back to Australia to play in the ABL and had his best year there, starting six games with a 4.01 ERA. For his height he does show good command of his pitches, walking just 1.2 hitters per nine innings. The 2017 season is the year he should establish his identity. Kennedy did get one appearance in the WBC but failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced.

9. Zach Shepherd 3B (Tigers) - Zach was number two on this list last year but the big concern was his lack of power. He only hit five homeruns with a .339 slugging. This year his power numbers went up (15 homers and .350 slugging) at the sacrifice of his batting average, dropping 60 points to .186. He also struck out an alarming 159 times. We were tempted to take him off this list but there are not a lot of candidates to replace him.

10. Samuel Holland RHP (Angels) - He had one of the better years of the Australian players, pitching 29 games in relief and fashioning a 0.83 ERA, with some of that time spent in the hitter friendly California League. The opposition combined to hit only .151 against him. At 23 years of age he should be ready for AA. Holland was on the designated pool pitcher list, but did not get in a game after Australia was eliminated after the first round.

2016 Top Australian Prospects

Japan Retains Number One World Ranking

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Despite the United States first place finish in the World Baseball Classic tournament this month Japan has retained the number one ranking thanks to their third place finish. Over the course of the voting the United States has won four tournaments to one for Japan in tournaments both teams have competed in. Where Japan jumps ahead of the United States is their two championships that the United States chose not to enter.

Below is the top 12 teams and their points accumulated in parenthesis.

1. Japan (5699)
2. United States (5378)
3. South Korea (4789)
4. Taiwan (3901)
5. Cuba (3737)
6. Mexico (2961)
7. Venezuela (2804)
8. Australia (2433)
9. Netherlands (2071)
10. Canada (2020)
11. Puerto Rico (1759)
12. Italy 1708

You can see the complete list by going to World rankings

Major leaguers by Country

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Baseball America broke out the top countries who have players in the major leagues. The top ten is listed below.

1. United States - 5,043 (67.34%)
2. Dominican Republic - 1,117 (14.92%)
3. Venezuela - 628 (8.39%)
4. Puerto Rico - 163 (2.18%)
5. Canada - 92 (1.23%)
6. Mexico - 91 (1.22%)
7. Cuba - 82 (1.09%)
8. Panama - 52 (0.69%)
9. Colombia - 38 (0.51%)
10. Australia - 29 (0.39%)

If you combined Curacao and Aruba, both colonies of the Netherlands and included them with the players from the Netherlands that count would also be 38, putting the Netherlands in tenth place.

You can go to the International section of Baseball America to see the complete list.

Cuba Advances to Second Round with Win Over Australia; Italy with Wild Win Over Mexico

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Despite their watered down roster Cuba was able to beat Australia 4-3 to advance to the second round of the WBC. Alfredo Despaigne hit a grand slam homerun in the fifth to provide all the scoring for Cuba. It was his second homerun of the WBC.

Australia got a solo homerun from Trent Oeltjen in the seventh to cut the lead to 4-2. They scored another run in the eighth on a two out Luke Hughes double and an RBI single in the eighth. Tim Kennelly singled to put runners on first and second for Oeltjen to play hero but he struck out. Australia was retired in order in the ninth by Migual Lahera, the last two by strikeouts.

The Aussies did have some trouble making contact with runners in scoring position. In the third inning with the bases loaded and two out Logan Wade struck out to foil a rally. In the fourth inning with two runners on Luke Hughes struck out. After they had scored a run in the fifth Brad Harman struck out to end the inning, stranding an additional two runners. With runners on first and third and no out in the sixth Luke Hughes struck out and Mitchell Denning grounded into a double play. So the opportunities were there for Australia to win the game, ultimately stranding 15 runners on base.

Australia also had two outs in the fifth with no one on when Cuba began their rally with two singles and a walk to load the bases. Lachlan Wells stayed on to face Alfredo Despaigne and Despaigne deposited a ball into the left centerfield bleachers.

Warwick Saupold pitched four innings of shutout ball for Australia in his start. Australian pitchers combined to strike out 10 Cubans while Cuban pitchers combined to strike out 11 Aussies. The attendance was listed at over 38,000 but most of those fans were not there, waiting to attend the night game with Japan playing China.

Italy 10 Mexico 9

Italy stunned Mexico with five runs in the bottom of the ninth. Roberto Osuna and Oliver Perez could not retire a batter as Brandon Nimmo singled to pull Italy within one and John Andreoli hit the walk off single, scoring two.

Mexico was in charge for most of the game. Esteban Quiroz led the game off with a homerun. Italy bounced back with a homerun by John Andreoli, their number two hitter in the game.

Quiroz doubled in the third inning to give Mexico a 2-1 lead. In the fourth a Japhet Amador solo shot and a Sebastian Elizalde single upped the lead to 4-1.

Italy came back and tied the game in the bottom half of the fourth. Rob Segedin launched a two run homerun and Chris Colabello hit a solo shot.

Mexico took what appeared to be in control of the game with three runs in the fifth. Efren Navarro walked to force in a run and Luis Alfonso Cruz doubled to drive in two. Drew Butera homered for Italy to close the lead to 7-5.

Mexico scored two in the seventh on a two run single by Sebastian Elizalde. With the score now 9-5 the game looked done. Italy went down meekly in the seventh and eighth. Roberto Osuna came on to start the ninth. The home crowd was celebrating their victory.

The bats came to life for Italy with back to back to back doubles by Francisco Cervelli, Chris Colabello and Alex Liddi to make the score 9-7 and get the fans a little bit nervous. An error on a ground ball to shortstop Luis Alfonso Cruz put runners on first and third with no outs. Drew Maggi walked to load the bases. Roberto Osuna left the game and Oliver Perez came on to replace him with the tying run on second. Brandon Nimmo lined a single to right field to pull Italy to within one and John Andreoli grounded a single to second baseman Luis Urias where two runs scored to give Italy the win.

There were 14,296 crushed Mexican fans who left the park.

Japan 7 China 1

Japan had already clinched first in the first round. China scored their first run of the WBC but still lost 7-1. After finishing last in this round China will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Japan scored early getting two run homeruns from Seiji Kobayashi in the second and Sho Nakata in the third to jump out to an early lead. For Nakata it was his second homerun of the WBC.

China scored their lone run in the third on a Ray Chang single. They had runners on first and third with one out but Chuang Na grounded out to end the inning. They had no real scoring opportunities after that. Japanese pitchers struck out 12 Chinese hitters.

Israel Downs Netherlands; Korea and Aussies Win

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Since the game did not mean anything it would be difficult to call it an upset. The Netherlands started Rob Cordemans, their hero of many Olympics, World Baseball Cups and World Baseball Classics. The 42 year old lasted just one inning with Israel strafing him for four hits and three runs in their eventual 4-2 win. Nate Frieman hit a double to score one run, Ryan Lavarnway singled to score another. It could have been worse with Israel loading the bases for Scott Burcham who struck out to end the inning.

Israel trotted out nine pitchers for the nine inning game, Jason Marquis finishing the first inning. The strategy seemed to work as the Netherlands bats never found their groove. Jurickson Profar was their only offense, getting three of the five Dutch hits. A Profar double after Randolph Oduber drew a leadoff walk put runners on second and third with one out where a ground ball scored the first run for the Dutch in the third inning.

In the sixth Profar led the inning off with a double but was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. Israel scored in the bottom frame to pull ahead 4-1, taking advantage of an error, walk and hit by pitch to load the bases with no out. A ground out double play got two outs but a run scored.

The best opportunity Netherlands had to win the game was in the eighth when an error and two walks loaded the bases. Another error cut the lead to 4-2, keeping the bases loaded with one out. Didi Gregorius grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The Dutch also saved their pitching staff throwing seven different pitchers. Josh Zeid was the most worked Israeli pitcher, the manager calling on him to get five outs. Attendance was listed at 2,700. Both Israel and Netherlands advance to the second round.

Korea 11 Taiwan 8

The two Asian teams battled it out in an important game that did not have playoff implications but the winner got an automatic bid for the next WBC, if there is one and the loser had to qualify. The Korean bats finally came alive for the 11-8 win, scoring three in the tenth inning to secure the victory. Tae-Kyun Kim mashed a two run homer to close out the three run tenth.

Korea had jumped out to an early 6-0 lead but Taiwan battled back with three in the bottom of the second. Pitching was non-existent for the first four innings with Korea leading 8-5 at that point. The Korean bats quieted the next five innings while Taiwan scored three to send it into the tenth.

Korea relied on Seung-Hwan Oh to pitch the last two innings to capture the win. When rosters were being considered Korean fans did not want Oh on the roster because of his implications to overseas gambling. Oh is currently under suspension if he wants to ever come back to the KBO to finish his career.

Australia 11 China 0

Australia kept their hopes of advancing to the first round with a 11-0 clobbering of China. This sets up a final match with Cuba with the winner advancing to the second round. Travis Blackley allowed just two hits in his 4.2 innings of work. The game ended after eight when Australia scored four runs on a James Beresford grand slam.

Ex-major leaguer Luke Hughes had a big bat for Australia with two hits and four RBIs, including a two run homer in the third. James Beresford walked three times to allow him to score three runs and Brad Harman also scored three runs. China has yet to score a run in these games, their offense only accumulating just six hits. Their final game is against Japan, who has already clinched a first seed advancement to the second round. China has no hope of finishing away from the basement and will have to qualify for the next WBC.

Only 3,013 attended the game between Australia and China.

Netherlands Clinches Second Round Advance in WBC

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

One of the disadvantages of bracket play with the top two teams advancing is how early teams can clinch their advancement to the second round. Israel and Netherlands have already clinched advancing to the second round with Netherlands 6-5 win over Taiwan. Now it is just a matter of determining who advances as the number one seed. The remaining two games in the bracket do not amount to much.

Netherlands inched past Taiwan 6-5 last night, taking advantage of a ninth inning error, a hit by pitch and a single to load the bases with no outs. Jurickson Profar coaxed a walk off walk to allow Netherlands to come out victors.

It did not come easy for the Netherlands. In the fifth Taiwan erupted for three runs to take a 5-4 lead. Chih-Hao Chang slugged a two run homer to tie the game at 4-4. Taiwan strung together two more singles after the homerun to put runners on first and third and still there were no outs. A ground out when the Netherlands could not turn two scored a run. After a strikeout Taiwan again loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and infield single. Che-Hsuan Lin flied out to end the inning.

The Taiwan pitchers shut down Netherlands for three innings. In the eighth back to back singles by Xander Bogaerts and Wladimir Balentien put runners on first and second with no outs. A double play ground out appeared to put the embers out for a rally. Fu-Te Ni came on to pitch to end the threat. Didi Gregorius lined a double to left field to tie the game and leading to the exit of Ni. Hung-Wen Chen came on to retire Yurendell Decaster on a ground out to send the game into the ninth inning tied.

Balentein finished the game 4 for 4 for the Netherlands and Didi as the DH was 3 for 4 with 3 doubles and three RBIs. Mike Bolsenbroek pitched three late shutout innings to allow the Netherlands to get back in the game. Chang was the big bat for Taiwan with his three hits including his big two run homerun, the only extra base hit for Taiwan in the game. Attendance was listed at 3,606.

Cuba 6 China 0

China could manage only one hit against the Cuban pitching. Bladimir Banos gave up that hit with one out in the fifth. Cuba scored four of their six runs in the fourth to put the game on ice. Roel Santos had the big hit with a two run triple. He finished the game 3 for 5. Alexander Ayala was 3 for 4 with an RBI double in the fourth inning.

Bruce Chen shut out Cuba for the first 2.2 innings of work. He was taken out of the game after getting Ayala to ground into a double play. His replacement Xia Luo would give up the four runs in the fourth inning.

There were 39,102 who came out to see the game at the Tokyo Dome, a good crowd considering Japan was not playing. That must have been a misprint because attendance was sparse according to reports myworld received of those who attended the game. It was so empty that many filtered down to the lower section to watch the game.

Japan 4 Australia 1

Through the first four innings an Allen de San Miguel homerun was the only run of the game, giving Australia a 1-0 lead. Tim Atherton finally cracked giving up a leadoff double to Hayato Sakamoto. An infield single put runners on first and third where Lachlan Wells replaced Atherton and gave up a sacrifice fly to Nobuhiro Matsuda to tie the game.

In the seventh a Sho Nakata homerun put Japan up 2-1. They put the game away in the eighth on a two run homer from Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.

Australia had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth after Japan had tied the game 1-1. With the bases loaded and one out James Beresford grounded into a double play. That was really the last opportunity the Japanese pitching staff allowed them to score a run.

There were 41,408 at the Tokyodome.

Baseball World Cup Under 18 Pools Determined

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

The Baseball World Cup Under 18 tournament will be held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada from September 1-10. Nine of the top ten ranked countries will be participating in the event, with only Venezuela the lone top ten country not participating.

There will be two groups of six, who will play a round robin. The top three finishers will then advance to the second round, where each of the three teams will carry their record with them to the new pool and play the three teams advancing from the other pool. The two teams with the best record will play for the gold medal while the third and fourth best record will battle for the bronze.

Group A

Canada (9), South Korea (3), Taiwan (4), Australia (10), Italy (11), Nicaragua (16)

Group B

United States (2), Japan (1), Cuba (5), Mexico (6), Netherlands (9), South Africa (28)

The United States has won this event the last three years. The All tournament team from the last Under 18 tournament included first round draft pick Josh Naylor from Canada and the recently defected potential superstar from Cuba Luis Robert. Blake Retherford, the first round pick of the Yankees made the team as an outfielder. There was a Cuban player named Jose Garcia who made it as a second baseman, but do not know if that was Jose Adolis Garcia, the brother of Adonis who recently defected.

Luis Robert hit .406 with two homeruns and 11 RBIs with three doubles, three triples and four stolen bases at the event.

Bandits Repeat as ABL Champions

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Kramer Chaplin allowed only one hit, a solo homerun to Cody Jones in the fourth inning, to lead the Brisbane Bandits to a two game sweep and ABL championship with their 3-1 win over the Melbourne Aces. Chaplin worked seven innings and would have had a perfect game no hitter if not for the homerun. Ryan Searle pitched the last two innings to close out the victory for the Bandits.

The offensive hero was Thomas Milone, who scored in the second inning on a Wade Dutton single to give the Bandits an early 1-0 lead. After the Aces tied it up, in the sixth a Milone single moved Kevin Padlo to third where he scored on a passed ball. An Aaron Whitfield ground out scored Milone from third to give the Bandits a 3-1 lead.

Australia WBC Review

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Overview - In World Cups that were dominated by Cuba because most baseball countries used amateur players to participate in these events Australia played a little below the .500 level. They did not have any top three finishes. They did pull off a bit of an upset in the 2004 Olympics when they finished in second place to Cuba. That was the year the United States did not qualify after their upset loss to Mexico in a qualifying tournament. Australia upset Japan in a semifinal game 1-0 with Chris Oxspring outdueling Daisuke Matsuzaka. It was the second time Australia had beaten Japan after winning a pool game 9-4. Australia was the only team Japan lost to in those Olympics. Cuba defeated Australia in the gold medal game 6-2, their second loss to Cuba in the 2004 Olympics. Trent Oeltjen, Ryan Rowaland Smith and Chris Oxspring are three teammates from the 2004 silver medal team and will be hoping to spin that same magic for this team. Mitch Nilsson is the nephew of David Nilsson, a major leaguer who was the heart and soul of that 2004 Olympic team. Jon Deeble is the manager for the 2017 WBC team and also managed the 2004 Olympic team. Graeme Lloyd the bullpen coach was a pitcher for the 2004 Olympic team.

Australia did not qualify for the 2015 Premier 12 because they were not rated as one of the top 12 baseball teams in the world when the rankings came out. Some say the Premier 12 may eventually replace the World Baseball Classic as the top baseball event. If the Premier 12 was played in 2017 Australia would qualify.

This is the third appearance for Australia in the World Baseball Classic. They are 1-8 in their three appearances, failing to advance past the first round in all three events. For the 2017 WBC they had to qualify for the first time after finishing 0-3 in 2013. They played in Australia and defeated teams from New Zealand, South Africa and the Philippines to qualify for the 2017 WBC.

Current World Ranking - 10. Japan (1) and Cuba (5) who are in their first round pool are ranked higher than them. China (18) is the one team ranked lower than them.

Roster:

Pitchers

Tm Atherton, Tom Bailey(DPP), Travis Blackley, Justin Erasmus (DPP), Josh Guyer (DPP), Liam Hendriks, Samuel Holland (DPP), Jon Kennedy, Steve Kent, Daniel McGrath(DPP), Peter Moylan, Chris Oxspring (DPP), Ryan Rowland Smith, Dushan Ruzic, Warwick Saupold(DPP), Ryan Searle, Sam Street (DPP), Josh Tols, Todd Van Steensel, Alex Wells, Lachlan Wells(DPP), Matthew Williams

DPP is Designated Pitchers Pool

Catcher

Allan de San Miguel, Robbie Perkins, Mitchel Nilsson

Infielders

James Beresford, Brad Harman, Luke Hughes, Logan Wade, Mike Walker, Stefan Welch

Outfielders

Michell Denning, David Kandilas, Timothy Kennelly, Trent Oeltjen, Aaron Whitefield

Strengths - They have some solid young arms who could create some issues for the free swinging Cubans. Travis Blackley is a veteran pitcher with major league experience. Liam Hendriks is a major league arm who will give Australia two good starters in the rotation. Warwick Saupold got some major league time last year and will be the closer out of the bullpen. They could go with the veteran starter Ryan Rowland Smith as their third starter or fling a young arm and hope for the best. There are some ex-major leaguers who will provide leadership such as pitchers Peter Moylan, Smith and Blackley and position players Brad Harman, Luke Hughes and Trent Oeltjen.

Weakness - The ex major leaguers are not really active except in the Australian Baseball League and some international events. They should be at least baseball ready with the ABL recently finishing the season. A lot of young players but they are competing against All Stars from Japan. The one saving grace is Cuba does not appear as strong as in years past. Scoring runs will be a challenge with no real power source to trigger the offense.

Prospects to Watch - Aaron Whitfield was a softball player who is showing he can play baseball. He is one of the top prospects for the Twins. Even with veteran outfielders on the team he should be in the starting lineup. Even at 20 years old he was one of the best players in the ABL, a league composed of some veteran ex-major leaguers from Australia as well as rising single A prospects from the United States. Lachlan Wells and Alex Wells are twins. Lachlan signed first with the Twins when he was 16. Alex signed as an 18 year old with the Orioles. Both throw lefthanded and will not wow you with velocity, relying on location of pitches to achieve soft contact.

Expected Finish - Cuba will still have a veteran pitching staff but it is not out of the realm of possibility for Australia to advance to the second round for the first time in WBC history. The important thing for them is to win at least one game so they do not have to go through a qualifying round if there is a 2021 WBC. They will do that but finish third in this round and fail to qualify for a second round.

Brisbane Advances to the ABL Finals

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

The Brisbane Bandits rummaged through the Adelaide Bite pitching staff with an 18-2 win. All their runs were scored after the third inning with the last two innings accounting for 14 of the 18 runs.

Brisbane feasted off the long ball with Mitch Nilsson slugging two homeruns in the eighth inning, one a solo shot and the other a two run blast. Ryan Battaglia also hit two homeruns, a solo shot in the fifth to give the Bandits a 2-1 lead and a grand slam in the eighth. Trent Oeltjen, Logan Wade and David Rodriguez also blasted homeruns.

The Adelaide Bite scored their only two runs on solo shots from Stefan Welch and Jordan McArdle. Rick Teasley went seven innings for the Bandits, giving up one of the dingers and striking out nine. He only allowed three hits in the game.

Next weekend the Bandits will take on the Melbourne Aces for baseball supremacy in Australia.