Mar 5, 2013

The WBC Post Mortem (or 4 Positives and 2 Negatives to take away from a trip to Taiwan)

Success breeds increased expectations. The history books are filled to the brim with examples of performances not living up to the - often unrealistic - expectations of a public with an insatiable appetite for winning. Nowhere is this truer than in Australia, and we don't have to look far to find examples of sports stars who rapidly transform from our number one champion to a second class citizen after failing to live up to expectations. Think of the (admittedly media driven) disappointment we felt about the 2012 Olympic team, and about guys like James Magnusson. Hero one day, pariah the next.

It's against this sort of context that I want to examine the Team Australia performance at the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

In relative terms, Aussie baseball fans have been spoilt in recent years. We have seen huge numbers of Aussies playing minor league ball, a steady flow (or drip) of Major League players, and we have had the reinstatement of the Australian Baseball League. Rekindling the ABL gave us the chance to watch some of the premier talent in Aussie baseball up close and personal. It let us get on board the bandwagons of up and comers like Adamson, Kandilas, the Kennellys, Searle and Kent. And it drew us in to some great stories - Hughes trying to work his way back to the bigs; guys like Josh Roberts bursting on to the scene, and veteran players like Ox, Thomas, Snelling and Huber looking to keep the dream alive. While it has not yet had the surge of fan engagement that the A-League (or even the NBL!) has had, people have started to buy in to the League, which is great

So of course, when the 2013 Classic rolled around, it was easy to have high hopes. We picked a team that had a mix of seasoned veterans, stars of the ABL, and some young prospects. We landed in a group that on paper, in theory, posed a challenge that could reasonably be surmounted. We saw some positive signs in the warm up games. So we bought in, we built up our hopes.

In the wash up of the tournament, we are left wondering what could have been. We are stuck looking at with pretty stark numbers on the scoreboard:

  • In three games, Australian pitchers gave up 14 runs
  • At the same time, we were able to score just two
  • Aussie hitters struck out 23 times in 27 innings
  • At the same time, we could manage to strike out only ten opposition hitters
  • We went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and
  • We hit into more double plays than I care to count.

It wasn't fun (well it kind of was, but the outcome hurt). It was disappointing. It was often slow, and it hurt. You only need to take a look through a few tweet streams (or follow #AusWBC) to get a sense of the slowly unveiling dissatisfaction at the results.

As a fan, it is really, really easy to play the role of manager, GM, coach and player. And in the aftermath of a painful, dissatisfying campaign, it is all too tempting to call for change, or to criticize. The reality is that most of us are far too remote from the realities of the team, and are in no way qualified to make these calls - although it can feel good!

As a way of coming to terms with my disappointment, I thought i'd try and look at some facts. Without overstating things, and without hyperbole. And if at all possible, to highlight some positives.

Fact One: our pitching was better than the 2009 campaign.

There can't really be any disputing this. We allowed 14 runs this time round. Last time we allowed 28. In my book, that's a bloody great improvement. It was no fluke either. We saw high quality pitching performances from a wide range of pitchers.

Fact Two: our offense just couldn't match it on the international stage.

On the whole, to call our offense anaemic woud be understating it. We. Had. Nothing. We couldn't string together rallies, we couldn't get on base, and at times we looked comprehensively outclassed. This is the biggest challenge for the future Team Australia: where is the offense coming from?

Fact Three: We do have a few hitters who showed genuine promise at a young age.

Stefan Welch was in my opinion the best hitter in the lineup. He showed patience, discipline and mental toughness. He ground out his at bats and took what was offered to him. Likewise US-born Mike Walker showed promise. He took a number of mature at bats, and showed he could hit top class pitching. Tim Kennelly was also impressive, although it looks like his immediate future will see him on the mound, and Corey Adamson showed potential to develop further.

Fact Four: The ABL still has a way to go to reach a premier level of competition...

Mitch Dening was one of the league leaders in hitting in 2012-2013. In 42 games (173 ABs) he hit .347 with five home runs.

In 44 games, Brad Harman hit .259 with six home runs.

In 28 games, Justin Huner hit .220 with two home runs.

Between them, these guys went THREE FOR THIRTY ONE. That is .096 average. Yes, the conditions weren't ideal. Yes they faced a hostile crowd in one game. But ultimately the reason for the low average was the calibre of the pitching they faced. This really highlights the gap in pitching quality between the ABL and other international leagues.

Fact five: ...But there were glimpses of brilliance from ABL pitchers (and the bullpen generally)

While each of the games got away from Team Australia's pitchers, a couple of ABL pitchers really stood up.

Chris Oxspring threw 7.2 innings (including five innings of 1 hit ball today), allowing a respectable three earned runs.

Andrew Russell threw two solid innings, allowing just one hit and one walk.

Steve Kent threw two innings, allowing just one hit.

Brendan Wise threw 1.1 innings allowing just one hit.

In addition to the performances from the ABL representatives, we also saw respectable performances from Rowland-Smith and Tanner.

Fact six: we got to give some youngsters exposure to the world stage.

Some of our young talent got the chance to play in a high level, competitive tournament. Kandilas, Adamson, Roberts, Saupold, Tanner, Russell among others all got to play. They will be better for it next time round.

All in all, we can take away some positives from the tournament. I will be interested to see if anyone ends up with a contract as a result of the trip, and also to see what happens with qualifying for the next WBC. On a plus note, I think the tournament demonstrated that there is a growing community of supporters in Australia, and the banter and support shown over social media was a personal highlight for me. I hope it can continue.

So, all in all, I'd like to congratulate the team and support staff and the ABF. Thanks for your efforts, I look forward to cheering you on next time!


Feb 22, 2013

Brett Roneberg chats about the World Baseball Classic

In north Queensland in the mid-90s, teenaged Brett Roneberg was turning heads in the Australian baseball community. After representing Queensland at the Under 18 tournament in 1996, Brett signed with the Florida Marlins following meetings with a bloke called Jon Deeble. He went on to play in the inaugural Australian Baseball League, he represented Australia at a multitude of tournaments, and collected an Olympic Silver medal in 2004.  He spent 11 years in the minors and finished up with a pretty tidy line of .276/.359/.404. And he had one hell of a tournament at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Roneberg after signing with the Marlins in 1996 (image credit:

Sunday, 8 March 2009. Mexico City. 

Twenty thousand die-hard Mexican baseball fans turned out to cheer on their team. It is the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and Team Australia have entered a hostile territory to face off against Mexico - a country with a rich and extensive baseball heritage. The Australian team is far from inexperienced: some have played in the big leagues, some have years of minor league service, some have played pro ball in Europe and Asia, and some own an Olympic silver medal. But they are a long way from home, and facing a starting line-up with major league experience from top to bottom, and a major leaguer on the mound.

Foro Sol Stadium - Mexico City

As Team Mexico sent major league pitcher Oliver Perez to the mound to face off against the Aussie challengers, few could have predicted the  result that was to come. A record 22 hits, including four home runs, led to a 17-7 mercy rule victory. To the Australians. The Mexican fans pelted the field with nuts and bolts from the stadium, and a group of Australian officials had to be herded into the team bus to get out of the stadium safely. Yet again, Team Australia had shown it could play ball.

The fairy tale didn't quite come true for Australia in the '09 Classic. Facing Mexico again just three days later - after narrowly losing to another powerhouse, Cuba, 5-4 -  they took a 16-1 loss that was over in the sixth inning and were eliminated  from the tournament. The one home run in that game belonged to Brett Roneberg. It was to be his last ever professional at bat.

Roneberg is welcomed by his teammates after crossing the plate in the 09 WBC

The 2009 World Baseball Classic was a remarkable one for the Australian team. They took down one of the best nations in baseball and did it with style. It was a typical display of Australian competitiveness and tenacity, and of the great Aussie tradition of the underdog. Players up and down the line-up put up huge results. These were punctuated by the numbers put up by the veteran Roneberg. In the early stages of the campaign, manager Deeble said Brett was one of the top five hitters in the country. By the end of the tournament, this looked like a huge understatement. Roneberg led the entire WBC tournament in batting average (.714), slugging percentage (1.286) and OPS (2.036). With numbers like this, I thought Brett would be the perfect guy to ask about the WBC in the lead up to the 2013 campaign. I tracked him down to re-live his 2009 experience, and to seek his thoughts on the 2013 edition.

Brett is a busy guy these days. He currently lives and works in both Cairns and Darwin, working in the construction and civil works industry, and he is also planning a wedding for October with his fiancĂ©e Kahlia. After exchanging a couple of short phone calls, I put a few questions to him about the tournament, focusing on his standout performance. Funnily enough the first thing that stuck with him was the bad stomach bug he copped in the build up to the tournament. "I guess one of the things I remember most was being extremely sick up until the third game," he said. It hadn’t been an ideal preparation for the team, with much of the squad falling ill during the build up. Deeble commented at the time that during the trip from Arizona to Mexico, Brett spent "the whole trip in the bathroom vomiting" and some of the other guys weren't much better. "I didn't train in Arizona," recalls Brett, "and when I was batting I was constantly thinking about feeling sick." It seemed to work wonders for him though, and he found some clarity and focus once he hit the field: "There was no pressure at all because my mind was occupied".

This wasn't the first time Brett had experienced a sublime run of form, but it was mighty impressive. Six at bats. Three singles. One double and a home run. Not to mention a couple of important walks, and a sac bunt. Talk about a great time to turn it on.

"I had some good runs of games, like Athens 2004," Brett told me. "My favourite highlights were the 1-0 win against Japan in the Olympics to go through to the gold medal game," he recalls fondly. "We didn't win [at the WBC] in Mexico but we sure opened some eyes around the world. They knew we came to play. Being in the box during the WBC I had some of the best approaches I ever had. I had just a completely comfortable feeling, and it showed in my results."  It seems that the whole team was feeling the same sense of purpose. "We just seemed to gel as a team, it was great. Having the lead up games really helped get us together and we knew we could match it with anyone, we weren't overawed by any of them, everyone pulled for everyone," says Brett. "The great thing about playing for Australia was that it didn't matter how you played but only if you won. Winning as a team was all that mattered."

Shortly after the final game of the campaign, after a humbling defeat at the hands of a vengeful Mexican team, coach Jon Deeble faced a press conference, with Roneberg by his side. Someone asked Brett: "what do you think [the WBC] does for your career moving forward?" Brett's reply: "Speaking of the career moving forward, I'm not playing anymore, it's my last tournament unfortunately. But I've played for almost ten years now for Australia, and it's been an amazing experience. I've seen us get better from a Silver Medal [in the Olympics] now to the pros we've got playing in the Big Leagues." He also remarked on what would continue to be a challenge for the tournament - the availability of the best players from each country. "We have guys that could have been here, we could have been an amazing team, and without those guys we still competed with the best in the world," he told reporters. "It's an experience I'll never forget and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life." Talking with me in 2013 he recalls his final home run. "As I ran around the bases I knew I was finished playing. It was a sad and happy feeling at the same time. But it was great to finish how I wanted to - with a homerun, just like my good friend Paul Gonzalez did in Athens." 

I get the impression that Brett is a guy who really knows his baseball. In the short communications I had with him, he showed real thoughtfulness about the game. I asked him if he'd been following the Australian Baseball League and what he thought about it. "It looks good so far, I just hope it can continue to grow and attract more fans," he said.  "I know it's tough with all the other sports, but the people running it are doing a great job". He says he doesn’t really watch Major League Baseball anymore, but when he does he likes to "watch the game within the game, seeing things that really affect an at bat:  a 'move em over', a first pitch strike or a good pitch behind in the count." He says he still gets around in the local Cairns league [I pity the opposing pitchers] with some people he grew up with but "that's as far as it goes."

As Team Australia continues its lead up to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the fans at home will be hoping they can replicate - and build on - the remarkable story written by Roneberg and co in 2009. For his part, Brett says "anything can happen in nine innings, we have proved that before. I hope to be watching and seeing it happen again."

So do we.

I highly recommend you check out the veritable treasure trove of information available on Brett's father Geoff's website: It is an incredible tribute to Brett's career, and includes photos, videos, and some amazing behind the scenes insights. 

Feb 6, 2013

Aussie baseballers invited to Spring Training 2013

Spring training is just around the corner, and there will be plenty of Aussies (and ex-ABL imports) plying their wares in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Image credit:
Here is the initial list that I have identified as at today - I think it is quite comprehensive, but I may have missed some, if I have, let me know! The links will take you through to their page.

Non roster invitees 
Australian players
Allan de San Miguel - Catcher - Baltimore Orioles
Josh Spence - LHP - New York Yankees
Rich Thompson - RHP - Toronto Blue Jays
James Beresford - SS - Minnesota Twins
Trent Oeltjen - OF - Los Angeles Angels
Matt Kennelly - Catcher - Atlanta Braves
Peter Moylan - RHP - Los Angeles Dodgers

Australian Baseball League import players
Tyler Collins - OF - Detroit Tigers (Sydney Blue Sox 2011)
Adam Buschini - OF - San Diego Padres (Canberra Cavalry 2012)
Mark Thomas - C - Tampa Bay Rays (Canberra Cavalry 2011)
Jack Murphy - C - Toronto Blue Jays (Canberr Cavalry 2012)

Australian players on the 40-Man Major League rosters
Grant Balfour - RHP - Oakland Athletics
Travis Blackley - LHP - Oakland Athletics
Liam Hendriks - RHP - Minnesota Twins

Australian Baseball League import players on 40-man Major League rosters
Brandon Barnes - OF - Houston Astros (Sydney Blue Sox 2011)
Donald Lutz - OF - Cincinatti Reds (Canberra Cavalry 2010)
Didi Gregorious - SS - Arizona Diamondbacks (Canberra Cavalry 2010)
Brandon Maurer - RHP - Seattle Mariners (Adelaide Bite 2010)

Pitchers and catchers report next week, so there will be a flurry of activity coming up. Should be exciting! Would be great to see Ryan Rowland-Smith and Luke Hughes get their name in on the action too.

Feb 2, 2013

Getting to know Team Australia Part Two

Earlier this week I offered some ramblings about what I thought the pitching options for Team Australia might look like.

There's been a few interesting opinions expressed as a result, including:

Looks like there is a fair bit of love out there for Oxspring and Saupold, some mixed feelings around Thomas, and a bit of support for Searle and Rowland-Smith. I still reckon Oxspring is most likely to be the number one starter, and tend to agree with the above sentiments that  after Oxspring,  it could go a number of ways. Time will tell!

So today I thought I might take a stab at a line-up card for the first game. Here's what I came up with:

Here's why I went with it.
  • Beresford is locked in as the starting shortstop, and he's a lead off guy - has done it for the Aces, did it for Team Australia at the World Cup. Obvious choice to lead off. (Although, another option would be to put Kandilas in at lead off and push the rest of the order down a spot)
  • Once Beresford is in at short, the rest of the infield needs to fall into place. The next most obvious selection is to put Harman in at second - I see him definitely in the starting lineup and I don't see him playing any other position (since shortstop is occupied by Beresford)
  • With Harman at second, Luke Hughes would be pushed to either firstbase, third base, or DH. I am tipping DH, because...
  • I reckon we will give this young Walker bloke a real shot. The guy hit 24 doubles, 1 triple and 12 homeruns at A+ last year, and these are very similar numbers to the guy who I think will be on the opposite corner of the diamond, Stefan Welch (although Welch split his year between A+ and AA). Compare the numbers of either of these guys to Justin Huber, the main other competitor for a 1B or DH spot and the decision is pretty clear (Huber has just three doubles and two homers in more than 120 ABs for the Aces this year, in a big decline on his 2010 and 2011 numbers)
  • In terms of the outfield - I fully acknowledge I have a bit of Blue Sox bias, but...- I think Dening, Snelling and Kandilas will form the starting three. I expect Adamson will do an amazing job coming off the bench for pinch run situations and/or to give improved defense late in games - and he may well get a start later in the series - depending on how things go. I'd say he will play a similar role to the role played by Kandilas at the World Cup in 2011). Josh Roberts could be a bit of a bolter - he could take Snelling's spot - but also could feature as a pinch hitter in late innings. In this lineup I'd put Snelling in at five to capitalise on his OBP prowess and set the table for Dening and Walker, if not also clean up the guys above him. Kandilas would slot in at number nine - a spot he has worked wonders in for the Blue Sox in recent seasons
  • At catcher it's pretty much splitting hairs. Kennelly and de San Miguel both saw time behind the dish at the 2011 World Cup, both played AA in 2012, and even though de San has had the better of it in the 2012 ABL, I think de San Miguel should get the edge - but it is a very close run race. Although actually, now that I am really looking at the numbers, I think I could make a good argument for Kennelly as well.... you check it out and see what you think:
Click to zoom in

  • To cut a long story short, de San showed a bit more pop, but struck out more than Kennelly. In the field it was very close behind the dish, de San shows a better caught stealing average, but had 5 passed balls to Kennelly's zero. Tough decision this one!
  • The above lineup would leave Kennelly, Josh Davies, Corey Adamson, Justin Huber and Josh Roberts on the bench. This would give a good mix of abilities to use depending on the situation, and looks to be quite balanced.

Let me know what you think the lineup would/should be - send me a tweet to @ozmlbplayers, or leave a comment!

I am starting to get really excited about the whole thing! Australia should be able to put up a reasonably competitive team, and if they can get a bit of patriotic competitiveness going, I think they could well end up in the second round.

If you haven't already, it would be great if you could check out my application for the World Baseball Classic Fan Cave! Winners are announced after 11 February!

Jan 30, 2013

Getting to know Team Australia

Now that the Team Australia provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic has been released, we can start to get some idea as to how the team might shape up on the field. The roster is made up of a real mix of players - there are some absolute stalwarts of Australian baseball, guys with major league experience, as well as a bunch of young prospects, some stars from the ABL, and one or two virtual unknowns. When looking through the squad there are some reasonably clear positional decisions, but also a few positions that could be up in the air. Will management go for experience or form? Will they rely on reputation and big league game time, or will they look to give some youngsters a go? These are all the questions we can mull over in the lead up to the tournament on 2 March.

I've taken a bit of a wander through the recent experiences of the players on the provisional roster, and checked out the strategic decisions that can be seen through the 2011 Baseball World Cup line-ups  I'm tipping that overall the Team Australia line-up will be very experienced in terms of starting pitching, and that our offensive line-up will give some less experienced guys the chance to really step up. Check out my ramblings below for the full picture!

Starting pitchers

Yeah, yeah there are a few big arms missing from the list (Balfour, Blackley, Spence, Hendriks, Thompson etc). But so what? There's still some real high quality experience on that list. Of the 14 pitchers on the provisional roster, there are six who I think can stake a legitimate claim to a starting spot:
Chris Oxspring (SMP Images/JoeVella)

1. Chris Oxspring: Although his five major league appearances were as a reliever, Oxspring has spent the bulk of his extensive minor league career as a starter. He has been arguably the best starting pitcher in the Australian Baseball League over the past three years. In 2012-2013 he has struck out 86 over 79.2 innings, posting a 2.71 ERA. Oxspring's vast experience, which includes time pitching in Asia, as well as a coaching role at the Blue Sox, situated him well to take a leadership role for Team Australia, and I would hand him the ball for game one.

Dushan Ruzic (SMP Images/Joe Vella)
2. Dushan Ruzic: Ruzic has been a reliable performer for Team Australia over the past few years, and has been very consistent for the Adelaide Bite in the ABL. Like Oxspring, he started three games for Team Australia in the 2011 World Cup, and he put in some strong performances at previous international competitions.

Warwick Saupold (SMP Images/Scott Powick)
3. Warwick Saupold: Looks to be a contender for a starting spot. He had a blistering 2011-2012 ABL campaign, where he went 5-3 in 10 starts, with an ERA of just 1.41. This earned him a contract with the Detroit Tigers, where he impressed through 2012. He started the year at Class A West Michigan, where he featured almost solely as a reliever. He then pitched at High A, where he started five of his seven games, going 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA. Returning to the Perth Heat midway through the ABL season, he has made four starts, going 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA.

Ryan Searle (SMP Images/Scott Powick)
4. Ryan SearleHis ABL campaign has followed a similar pattern to Saupold. He began the season as a reliever (and spent the bulk of his 2012 US season in the bullpen) but in his five games since Christmas he has started. He started two games for Team Australia at the 2011 World Cup, putting up an ERA of just 0.73. If he doesn't start at the WBC, he will definitely be available for long relief if needed.

5. Brad Thomas: Thomas brings a wealth of experience to the squad, including pitching in the Taiwan league, which is hosting the tournament. He has put up improved numbers in the ABL 2012-2103 season. His strikeout rate is up from 5.24/9 innings to 8.6/9 innings, and he is giving up less frequent walks. Big chance to start for Team Australia.
Brad Thomas (SMP Images/Joe Vella)

6. Ryan Rowland-Smith: The last solid year of major league pitching for Rowland-Smith was in 2009. In 2010 he put up a 1-10 record in 20 starts. That was enough to see him part ways with the Mariners, and he signed a minor league deal with the Astros for 2011. He started 21 games that year, going just 2-11, with a 5.90 ERA. Has had struggles controlling walk rates, and these continued with the Cubs at AAA in 2012. There he went 3-6 in 30 appearances (eight starts) with a 3.94 ERA. He has a more extensive major league record than most of the roster, but recent form is hard to measure. Will either be used in long relief or as a second or third starter.

Ryan Rowland-Smith (SMP Images / Scott Powick)

Interestingly, there is a pattern among some of the guys who have pitched in the ABL this year. Ryan Searle, Warwick Saupold and Brad Thomas all have a similar throwing pattern over the past few months. Each of them joined their respective ABL club midway through the season, and each made a handful of relief appearances before joining the starting rotation. This could be entirely coincidental  or it could be a part of pre-WBC audition. Either way, it looks like each of these guys could be in contention.

My gut feel is that the opening three starters will be Oxspring, Ruzic and Thomas Saupold [after watching the Heat v Sox final].


Andrew Russell (SMP Images/Joe Vella)
Bearing in mind the above selections as likely starters, this leaves a bunch of other guys in the bullpen. My thoughts are that a combination of Andrew Russell, Matt Williams and Brendan Wise will be used to close out the late innings. This means for other situations there would be a trio of leftys - Adam Bright, Steve Kent and Clayton Tanner - and a pair of right handers - Tim Kennelly and Peter Moylan.

Check in later this week for part two, where I try to piece together our defensive line-up and batting order! And of course, please let me know what you think - either leave a comment, or send me a message on twitter.

Jan 15, 2013

Guessing the Team Australia WBC Roster

So the Team Australia roster for the World Baseball Classic is due to be released later this week. We have already seen the rosters for some other countries released, with some impressive players being selected. I thought I might turn my mind to who we could expect to see in the green and gold. I took a good look at the roster for the '09 WBC, as well as the 'Australia Series' against the Sydney Blue Sox, and the ABL All Star Game from 2012.

Under the World Baseball Classic official rules, each country must name a 28 man roster, with 13/14 pitchers and at least two catchers. I've used these guidelines for my guesses below.

I have also made some assumptions about who will be unavailable for the tournament. Given their reasonably unstable roster positions, I think it is unlikely we will see Josh Spence, Liam Hendriks, Rich Thompson and Travis Blackley. I recognize that Luke Hughes is in a similar predicament, but I also recall reading somewhere (which I can't now remember) that he'd committed to play. As for Grant Balfour, I would be very (pleasantly) surprised if he played - he usually works real hard through Spring Training, and I think the WBC would not suit his preferred build up.

With that in mind, here we go:


  • Tim Atherton (23): rock solid ABL season so far, showed dependability in the All Star game.
  • Adam Bright (28): was there in '09, and is having a pretty tidy ABL season. 
  • John Hussey (26): quietly putting together a solid year for the Aces - 2.10 ERA and WHIP under 1.20 in his last ten games - last three as a starter. 
  • Steve Kent (24) : was named in the ABL All Star squad, has 20 strikeouts and just 2 walks in 14 innings of work in the ABL so far this year
  • Dan McGrath (18): played in the ABL All Star game, one of our younger pitching prospects, they will take him as a development opportunity
  • Paul Mildren (28): not having his best ABL season, but he is a stalwart of Aussie pitching - was there in '06 and '09 - he must be there again
  • Peter Moylan (34): played for Australia in '06, he is fit and looking for a gig in 2013 - great opportunity for him to impress and to help out the national team
  • Chris Oxspring (35): was named to the provisional squad in '09 but did not feature in the tournament. Surely he has to be one of the first selections - he has been dominant in the ABL for three years. His stuff might not be as sharp as it once was, but he is getting results. 
  • Kyle Perkins (21): like McGrath, one of our pitching prospects. Was very effective in the ABL All Star Game, great opportunity for him. 
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith (29): one of our more experienced pitchers who has demonstrated his intent to play in the WBC by appearing in the ABL All Star game. A walk up start. 
  • Dushan Ruzic (31): was named in the ABL All Star game, also named in the '09 WBC provisional squad. Gives some pitching variety, and can play a number of roles, including eating up some innings if needed.
  • Warwick Saupold (23): solid year in the minors last year, and putting up great numbers in the ABL.
  • Ryan Searle (23): had a great year last year, finishing in AAA and is building a strong season for the Bandits this year
  • Brad Thomas (35): I'm a little unsure about Thomas, he has been at times unreliable in the ABL - but he does have experience pitching in Asia, which I think is a big plus for the pool games
  • Brendan Wise (27): having another great year in the ABL and played in the '09 tournament.
Another intriguing option would be to take Tim Kennelly, who could give some versatility with both the bat and ball. 


  • Allan de San Miguel (24): he's been the best Aussie catcher in the ABL for a while now and I think he has earnt his spot in this squad as the starting backstop
  • Matt Kennelly (23): had a good year at AA last year, and has been very consistent in recent years for the Heat
  • Ryan Battaglia (20): there's a good chance we will take a young catcher along- Ryan was selected in the All Star game, so could get a start here.

  • James Beresford (23): posted solid numbers in his first year of AA in 2012 and has taken no time at all to have an impact in the ABL in 2013 - hitting .333 in his first 8 games. He's got to be the starting shortstop
  • Brad Harman (27): major league experience, played in the '09 tournament - he's the logical starting second baseman
  • Justin Huber (30): really not having his best year in the ABL, and did not find great success at the WBC last time round - but he has a lot of experience and performed in the ABL All Star game.
  • Luke Hughes (28): assuming he is healthy, he will be there. I think he will share time with Harman at 2B, or will play 3B or DH
  • Stefan Welch (24): like Beresford he put up good numbers in his first year of AA last year. Will play 1B/3B


  • Corey Adamson (20): this kid is tearing it up in the ABL and was on the roster for the All Star Game. We will need to take some youth to develop for the future
  • Elliot Biddle (24): putting up good numbers in the ABL and made his debut for Team Australia in the All Star game
  • Mitch Dening (24): got some game time in the '09 WBC and sitting on a .338 average in the ABL this year with a power resurgence
  • Trent Oeltjen (29): incredibly experienced - must be a walk up start.
  • Chris Snelling (31): looks to have made an ABL comeback just to prepare for the WBC - an on base percentage machine, he leads the league in walks (24 in just 22 games) and is has a .469 OBP.

What do you think? Leave a comment or tweet me @ozmlbplayers with your thoughts.

Jan 11, 2013

Send me to the MLB Fan Cave

Send me to the cave!

Dear MLB Fan Cave Judging Panel

I’m a passionate Australian baseball fan with excellent social media and communications skills, who would be the perfect representative for Team Australia in the MLB Fan Cave World Baseball Classic Edition.
I have been watching and playing baseball all my life, from tee-ball right through school and university. Like many people, my actual baseball abilities never allowed me to soar to great heights, so I had to find other ways to support the sport.

The fact that Australians have had so much success in Major League Baseball – and in the international arena - is quite amazing when you think about the size of the sport here. However, the mainstream media in Australia has not historically given the sport the coverage I think it deserves.

In 2008 I realised that I could use my passion for the game and my professional communication skills to help tell the story of Australian baseball. I created my blog, and started to use twitter to spread the word of Australian baseball. I have covered Aussie baseballers through the minors, through spring training camps and through the major league season, as well as at home in the local Australian Baseball League. I wrote about (and cheered loudly for) Team Australia’s 2009 World Baseball Classic campaign, and was inspired by their remarkable victory over Mexico.

I have been lucky enough to interview some of the biggest stars in Australian baseball, and I have published blog posts designed to help Aussies support their favourite players overseas.

My work on the blog and twitter gave me the opportunity to volunteer with the Sydney Blue Sox ABL team in 2011. I set up their website at the start of the season and covered plenty of games on twitter and through game stories. I was also lucky enough to appear on a radio show earlier this year to preview the MLB season.

I have done all of this purely out of my love for the game and desire for it to grow in Australia. My day job as a lawyer in the consumer affairs industry gives me excellent communication skills and I want to put these to good use to continue to tell the amazing stories of Australian baseballers.

I am feeling great about Team Australia’s chances at the 2013 WBC, and I want to be there to cover the action and keep spreading the word of Aussie baseball.