Mar 31, 2008

Moylan appears in first game of season - but it doesnt end how he'd like

I am writing this, listening through MLB radio to the racous crowd at Nationals Park. The first (technically third, but I will call it the first) game of the regular season has just finished. The Nationals played the Braves in the first game ever at Nationals Park. The Nationals were leading 2-1 until the top of the ninth. The Braves then managed to score on a wild pitch, to take it to 2-2 and keep the game alive. Their first hitter in the bottom of the ninth, Cristian Guzman, struck out on a foul tip. Their second hitter, Lastings Milledge, was out on a grounder to third. Their third hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, with two out, hit a solo walk-off home run to left field, to take the Nationals to the win 3-2, for the first ever win at Nationals Park.

The pitcher who gave up the homerun?

Peter Moylan.


In the grand scheme of things this probably wont count for much. There are certainly going to be plenty of Nats fans who remember this game. I wonder how many of them will remember it was Moylan throwing the ball? But geez, what a way to start the season. Hopefully Moylan will be able to move on from this and have a good '08. Moylan took the loss, pitched 1.1 innings, struck out 2, and gave up just the homer.

Four Aussies make Opening Day rosters as pre-season wraps up

Four Australian born baseballers were named in Major League Baseball rosters for opening day over the weekend. There is one Australia position player, and three Australian pitchers down to commence the season in the bigs. Around eight or nine Aussies had been vying for positions in MLB squads over the US spring, and while four have made it at this point, there are a few who will be hoping to earn a slot later in the season.

Justin Huber is the only Aussie position player to commence the season on the 25-man roster. Huber was acquired by the San Diego Padres last week, after posting some impressive numbers over spring training. The Padres have him showing as a first baseman on their roster, and he is likely to start the season as a bench player. He could see some time in left field, as the Padres manage with their centrefielder Jim Edmonds on the DL. Huber celebrated his spring training success and position on the opening day roster by smacking a 2-run homer in the 8th inning of the Padres' loss to the Angels on Saturday.

Playing against Huber in California on Saturday was 23-year old pitcher Rich Thompson. He too has secured a place in MLB for the start of the season. Thompson will pitch in relief for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Through spring, Thompson posted an ERA of 3.38, and struck out 10 batters over 13.1 innings, while walking only 2. He played in 7 games for the Angels in late 2007, and will be hoping to see a lot more time in 2008. On Saturday, Thompson pitched 1 inning, and gave up a one-run homerun.

In Seattle, Ryan Rowland-Smith has made it to the Mariners' opening day roster. He too will pitch in relief, although there is a possibility he could see some time as the M's fifth starter. The 25-year old has had some major league experience, pitching in 26 games in 2007.

And one of the more experienced Australian MLB players, 29-year old sidearmer Peter Moylan, has confirmed his place in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen. Moylan has appeared in 95 major league games since 2006, and will operate as a setup for Braves' closer Rafael Soriano. In 8.1 innings of work over spring, Moylan struck out 6, and gave up 4 earned runs.

Of the other Australians participating in spring training, Chris Snelling and Travis Blackley have been sent to Philadelphia's AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley, where they will start the season. Tampa Bay's Grant Balfour has been designated for assignment, so we should know in a few days what the future holds in store for him. Damian Moss pitched another 2 innings for Atlanta on Saturday, but he will begin the season in the minors as well. Trent Oeltjen has continued to feature in the Arizona Diamondbacks spring, hitting in an exhibition game on Saturday. Oeltjen has had plenty of chances to impress this spring, and seems to have performed quite well. While there are some reports that he had been reassigned to the D-Back's minor league camp, this has not yet been verified on Again, over the next few days we should know more about where Oeltjen will begin the year. Stay tuned to Oz MLB Players for all the latest news!

Mar 29, 2008

Spring Training Updates & Snelling sent to AAA

Things are starting to pan out for opening day now. The Phillies today outrighted Chris Snelling to triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he will join Travis Blackley. He played again today, striking out in his only at bat, as the Phils lost to the Jays 1-3. He will be hoping to improve on his .195 spring average to earn a recall during the season proper.

Trent Oeltjen played, but did not seem to get any at bats, spending some time in left field.

Justin Huber played again for the Padres, with some time in left field and some time at first base. However he missed out with the bat, going 0-for-3 with one strikeout and one GIDP. SD won 4-1 against the Angels. The Padres announced their 25-man roster for opening day, and Huber is on it. Good stuff!

As the teams work to finalise their opening day rosters, Ryan Rowland-Smith spoke to about what is in store for 2008.

Mar 28, 2008

Spring Training updates (late finishing games for 28 Mar 08)

There were two late games on the west coast today, and there were Aussie appearances in both:
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith gave up 4 hits and 1 run over 2 innings of work. He also got a handy 4 strikeouts as the M's beat the Giants
  • Meanwhile, Rich Thompson allowed 1 hit in his 2 innings against the Dodgers. He gave up 2 walks, and got 2 strikeouts. The two LA sides drew 2-2, with Thompson pitching the 9th and 10th innings. Another solid outing from Rich.

Spring Training Updates (27 and 28 March)

Wow it is all happening at the moment, as teams hurtle towards opening day. We've got a bit of everything - trades, reassignments, positive outlooks for some, Peter Moylan pitching as a starter! Here are the latest updates:

  • If you haven't heard by now, Justin Huber was traded by Kansas City to the Padres (see also this link). While Huber had expressed a desire to be a part of the Royals - who really seem to be moving in the right direction - this move has to be a positive one for him. All indications were that there was not much room for him at Kansas, despite his excellent form this spring. The trade to the Padres means that he will start on the 25-man roster, which is a lot better than being shipped off to triple-A. As a Padres fan, I am pretty stoked with the news too! And things might look good for him even landing a fair bit of time in the game, as Padres centrefielder Jim Edmonds is under an injury cloud and may start the year on the DL. This would see Scott Hairston shift from left field to centre, and could open the door for Huber. Huber certainly didnt muck around, in his first performance for the Padres he went 0-for-3, striking out once. But he did draw a walk and score a run. Many Royals fans seem disappointed that Huber has left the club, but he certainly seems to have been held in high regard at Kansas. Check out this post from Undying Royalty for some comments. Hopefully he will get a good shot at things in San Diego.
  • Trent Oeltjen is still in camp with Arizona. This is a pretty good sign for him, as he was participating as a non-roster invitee. He went 0-for-1 today, striking out against the White Sox. Stay tuned for more news on what 2008 is likely to hold for Oeltjen.
  • Grant Balfour pitched today as Tampa Bay beat the Indians. However he struggled with his control, giving up 4 walks, one of which was with bases loaded. Hopefully this was just a one off for Balfour, who has had a reasonable spring, and looks to make the Rays' pen
  • With the Braves, Peter Moylan pitched the first inning in their loss to the Mets. Bobby Cox wanted to give his relievers a hitout before the season starts, so Moylan opened things up. He took the loss, giving up 3 hits, 3 runs and 1 walk, while getting 1 strikeout over his one inning of work.
  • The Phillies have dropped Travis Blackley from their major league camp. They sent him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This is disappointing, but hopefully Blackley can refine his stuff and see some time in the bigs this year.
  • In other news, Seattle have optioned Ryan Feierabend to triple-A. This is good news for Ryan Rowland-Smith. Feierabend was one of his main rivals for a spot in the M's pen, so things could be looking up for RRS.

Stay tuned for more info as the major league clubs finalise their rosters prior to opening day on Monday. Please feel free to leave a comment, or drop me an email if you have some news to report

Mar 26, 2008

Spring Training Updates (26 Mar 08)

A mixture of good and not-so-good news out of the US today. Let's start with the good:
  • Rich Thompson continued his good spring. He pitched 2 innings to get the win as the Angels beat the D-Backs. He gave up one run off 3 hits, and got 1 strikeout.
  • Justin Huber yet again put forward his case to make the opening day roster. In his one pinch hitting at bat in the 8th inning he smacked a 2-run double, taking his spring average to .346. For a guy who has had 26 sporadic at bats this spring, I think it is pretty remarkable to be hitting with such consistency. With all the questions surrounding KC's opening day roster, Huber is making sure his name is in the mix.

And the not-so-good, news out of Philadelphia today:

  • Chris Snelling had another rough day, flying out in his only at bat of the day. His spring average is .200
  • The Phillies have placed Travis Blackley on waivers, confirming they dont have a spot for him in their plans for the bullpen. This is disappointing at this point, but perhaps not the end of the world. There is a chance that Blackley may be picked up by another team, including the Giants - from whom the Phillies acquired him in the Rule 5 draft. If not, he may be sent to the Minors, or released as a free agent. For more on the waviers rules, see ESPN's transactions primer

Mar 25, 2008

Food for thought before the season...

Here is an interesting article coming out of New York. Looks like the Mets are looking for a catcher, and also perhaps some outfielders. This Mets blog reckons that Justin Huber could be the answer to their problems.

What if there could be a perfect answer available in the next few days? More importantly, what if the Mets could fix what ails them with a former gem of the Mets' farm system, who left too early via trade? What if this player was 25, a catcher with experience at first base, spent this Spring working in left field, and batted right handed? And what if all this player cost the Mets was a waiver-wire pick up?
Would you do it? Because if you would, then you should know that
Justin Huber of the Kansas City Royals is out of options and may not make the big league
club as a result of a numbers game with the depth chart.

Spring training update (25 Mar 08)

A couple of Aussies in action today:

Mar 24, 2008

Article on Ryan Rowland-Smith from Sydney Morning Herald

I came across this on the internet today, and it struck me as being pretty bloody absurd, but also I guess it is an indication of how the world has changed. The headline is 'Latin lesson helps Hunter Mariner find perfect pitch'. That's pretty clever. But the crazy thing is this article is published in a Sydney newspaper, about a Newcastle-born player, playing baseball in the US, and it was written by someone in London! How does that work!!!?

And did I find it in the paper myself? No, I found it because this blog based in Wisconsin found it, and I found the blog. How good is the internet. Anyways, check it out here, it is a good article, and the writer thinks Rowland-Smith will feature prominently in the M's pen this year.

Spring training update (24 Mar 08)

Just two Aussies in action today - Justin Huber and Chris Snelling both got full games in left field for their respective teams. Snelling went 0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI and a strikeout, as the Phillies won. Huber went 1-for-4 and got one run, as KC beat the White Sox.

Predictions for 2008 - Part I

With Spring training winding up, and all teams building towards opening day, how many Aussies can we expect to see starting the season in the bigs? What sort of game time can they expect to get? Who are some of the current minor leaguers who might get some time in the bigs this year? Part 1 of my season preview looks at some players who have not yet cracked the majors, or who got their first call up in 2007, and some who have seen a fair bit of time in the majors.

When looking at who is likely to play MLB this year, there are a few things to consider. Obviously their form from last year is important, and then there are the stats from spring training (for what they are worth). But also important are some roster considerations - who are they competing against, how many spots are available, what is their contract status? For many Aussies, these factors are every bit as important as their own performance.

Craig Anderson - LHP - Baltimore Orioles

Anderson was originally signed by the Mariners in 1999. Since then he has steadily worked his way through the minors, making double-A in 2002 (when he was named to the Texas league post-season all star team), and triple-A in 2003. He was signed by the Orioles in 2005, and has seen a lot of time in double-A and triple-A through their organisation. He pitched for Australia in the World Baseball Classic in 2006. In 2007/2008 he played in the Dominican Republic winter league for Aguilas Cibaenas - who won the tournament.

Anderson is a left-handed starter, who participated in the Orioles spring training as a non-roster invitee.

Anderson had a pretty good 2007. He began the year at double-A Bowie Baysox, where he went 5-1 in 13 starts. He was then called up to Norfolk Tides triple-A where he went 7-3 from 15 starts, with a respectable ERA of 2.98. He got 57 strikeouts over 96.2 innings and gave up 16 walks and 85 hits (1.05 WHIP). He was named player of the month in August, when he went 2-1 with 28 strikeouts and a 2.93 ERA. Over the year, his 12 wins were the most by any pitcher in the Orioles' minor league organisation.

Anderson didn't get a lot of game time during spring. The Orioles are trying to rebuild their starting rotation, with some wholesale change taking place after they traded Erik Bedard to the Mariners. They boast a pretty inexperienced and youthful rotation, with their best probably Jeremy Guthrie who went 7-5 from 26 starts last year, with a 3.70 ERA and 123 strikeouts over 175 IP. His WHIP was 1.21. While Cabrera, Guthrie, Loewen and Traschel got plenty of starts over spring, Anderson was given a role in the bullpen.

Anderson appeared in 2 games, pitching 1 inning in each. He gave up 2 hits, and got three strikeouts, but he did blow one save, although it was not an earned run. Difficult to make much of these stats really. Considering his minor league career his been largely as a starter, 2 innings of relief work at spring training probably doesn't mean much. However, the Orioles have cut Anderson from the major league camp. So it looks like it will be another start in the minors for Anderson, possibly at triple-A.

So it looks like Anderson could get a shot at the majors this year. With the Orioles rebuilding after losing Bedard, there is likely to be some opportunities given. If he can match his minor league form from last year, he will be a good chance of seeing some time. And he could get a helping hand if 4th/5th starters dont perform, or get injured. My prediction is that Anderson could get a call up mid-to late-season as a starter. Depending on the bullpen performance, he could also be a candidate as a lefty reliever.

Grant Balfour - RHP - Tampa Bay Rays

Grant Balfour played his first major league game on 22 July 2001, for the Minnesota Twins. He gained some decent experience with the Twins through 2003 and 2004, including some appearances in the post season. He had some injury problems through 2005 and 2006, and spent all of 2006 on the DL for the Cincinatti Reds. He pitched in a number of rehab assignments in the minors, and was picked up by the Brewers from waivers on 5 October 2006. On 27 July 2007, the Brewers traded Balfour to the Rays, and he made 22 appearances. He finished 2007 with 24.2 innings pitched, 30 strikeouts, 30 hits, 20 walks, and an ERA of 7.81.

Balfour has turned in a pretty effective performance during spring training. He has pitched 9.1 innings over 8 appearances, fanning 7 while allowing 4 walks and 6 hits (WHIP 1.099), for an ERA of 2.89. The biggest concern is that 2 of the 6 hits were home runs.

The Rays have settled their starting rotation, and are now looking to finetune their bullpen. It seems that Balfour is competing with JP Howell and Scott Dohrmann for a spot. Howell is a 24-year old lefty who made 10 starts for the Rays through 2007 while splitting time in triple-A. Over 51 innings as a starter at TB, Howell struck out 49, gave up 21 walks and 45 hits (1.29 WHIP)to post a 7.59 ERA. Dohrmann is a 30-year old right handed reliever who played as one of the Rays' set up men in 2007. Over 32.2 innings he struck out 26, gave up 18 walks and 29 hits (1.48 WHIP) to post a 3.31 ERA.

Both Howell and Dohrmann have had significant opportunities to impress this spring. Howell has posted some good numbers during spring training. He has pitched 9 innings, for 8 strikeouts, 2 walks and 9 hits (ERA of 1.00). He seems to have filled more of an extended relief role, while Balfour tends to pitch only one and a bit innings. Dohrmann has been less effective, taking 2 losses, giving up 13 hits and 4 walks over 9 innings. He has struck out 8 and has a (9.00) ERA.

While the Rays have not locked anything up yet, Balfour clearly has a very good chance to make it into the Rays bullpen for opening day. Rays' manager Joe Maddon recently said Balfour's last two outings were 'the best I've ever seen him', and he has been happy with his pitch location. These are good signs coming from the manager at this time of the year. It won't be easy, especially as Dohrmann has pitched for the Rays a bit more than Balfour. However, if he can continue pitching the way he has been, such as his excellent outing against the Yankees the other day , he stands an excellent chance of making the Rays' pen for opening day.

My prediction is that Balfour is a solid contender for the Rays' opening day bullpen. If he does not make it, he will likely pitch in triple-A, and I would expect he will see some time in the majors this year.

Rich Thompson - RHP - LA Angels

Thompson made his MLB debut in 2007, pitching relief in 7 games for the Angels. Prior to that he pitched in 21 games for the Arkansas Travellers double-A side, pitching 49.1 innings (he started 3 games) for an ERA of 2.01. He gave up 34 hits, 14 walks, and struck out 50. (0.98 WHIP). He then pitched as a reliever in 16 games for triple-A Salt Lake City. He allowed 17 hits, 6 walks over 24.2 innings (0.95 WHIP) and struck out 32. His ERA was 2.19.

Thompson's 90+mph fastball and his excellent curve have allowed him to dominate through the various levels of minor league baseball. He was also a member of the 2004 Olympics silver medal winning team. He also pitched 2/3 of an inning in the 2007 futures game.

The Angels have some established closers in Justin Speier and Scot Shields. But, Thompson has shown his abilities as either a reliever or a closer. In his 5 outings through spring, he has pitched 8.1 innings, allowing only 7 hits and 3 runs. He has struck out 7. He is yet to give up a walk. These figures give him a 3.24 ERA, with a WHIP of 0.86. On top of this, he has converted 2 of 3 save opportunities.

Also vying for a spot in the Angels' pen are Jason Bulger and non-roster invitee Darren O'Day. Like Thompson, Bulger pitched for the Angels in late 2007. Over 6 appearances in relief he posted a 2.84 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Meanwhile, O'Day has had a very impressive spring, posting a 1.23 ERA over 14.2 innings of work, with 10 hits, 1 walk and 13 strikeouts.

Things must be neck and neck between these three candidates. I think that O'Day's status as a non-roster player must reduce his stock, despite his great figures this spring. Between Thompson and Bulger, things are very close. Thompson's minor leauge figures and consistent performance this spring may be enough to get him over the line.

Regardless of whether he makes it to the opening day roster, Thompson's experience and minor league performances, should get him some significant time in the majors in 2008.

Stay tuned for more 2008 Predictions coming soon...

Mar 23, 2008

Spring training update (23 Mar 08)

Peter Moylan and Trent Oeltjen made appearances in today's games:
  • Moylan gave up one walk, got one strikeout, and no hits in his one inning of work as the Braves went down to the Nationals
  • Oeltjen got a clutch double in the 8th inning, and went on to score a run, but the Diamondbacks fell short, losing to the Rockies by one. Oeltjen went 1-for-2 and played some time in left field

Mar 22, 2008

Spring Training Updates (22 Mar 08)

A few Aussies in action today, with Rich Thompson and Ryan Rowland-Smith in particular really making strong claims for opening day positions on their respective rosters. Over the next few days I will post my predictions for Aussies in MLB in 2008: who will start the season? where will they play? who might get a call up later in the season? Stay tuned, and leave a comment!

  • Rich Thompson got the save in the Angels' win over the Rangers. He faced 4 batters over 1.1 innings and got one strikeout.
  • Grant Balfour was very solid against the Yankees. He faced 7 hitters over two innings, including Jeter, Rodriguez and Ensberg. He gave up one walk and got four ground outs, two flyouts. All in all a great outing. With fellow bullpen candidate Scott Dohmann giving up 2 walks, 2 hits and 2 runs to cop the loss in the ninth inning, things are looking alright for Balfour.
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith continued his impressive spring campaign, facing 3 hitters in his one inning of work. He gave up a walk, but a double play kept things short and sweet.
  • Chris Snelling got a whole game at DH for the Phillies. In his 3 PA's he got 1 hit by pitch.

Mar 21, 2008

Spring Training Updates (21 Mar 08)

Three Aussies in spring training action today:
  • Justin Huber had two at bats, getting a hit, scoring a run, and striking out once to take his spring average to .333. The Royals went on to win 11-3 over the Brewers.
  • An unhappy day with the bat for Trent Oeltjen. He was hit by a pitch and grounded into a double play in his two plate appearances as the D-Backs lost to the Rangers by one.
  • Chris Snelling got some more time in the field today, looks like the Phils might be wanting to get a look at his defense, as he has played a lot off the bench this spring, but played in left today. He got one walk, but like Oeltjen he later grounded into a double play.

Mar 20, 2008

Spring Training updates (20 Mar 08)

It was an OzFest in the Grapefruit league today, with three Aussies playing in one game. Travis Blackley and Chris Snelling matched up against Grant Balfour and the Rays, and all played a part in the game:
  • Snelling was hit by a pitch, got a single to left field, and had one strikeout in 3 PA's. He played the whole game in left field.
  • Blackley pitched again today, after appearing on Sunday. He faced four batters in the eighth inning, walking one and retiring the other three.
  • Balfour also faced four batters in the eighth inning. He gave up one walk, got 1 k, one groundout and one flyout to get the hold for the Rays, who went on to win 6-2.

A bit of good news for Travis Blackley too. The Phillies have optioned one of his rivals for the bullpen positions to double-A. This leaves Blackley in the running with the non-roster invitee Vic Darensbourg, who appears to be a long shot to win the spot. So, unless the Phils are looking at a trade, it seems Blackley should make his way into the pen for opening day. He is getting a good chance to stake his claim, having pitched in two games within four days. For more discussion on this situation, check out Beerleaguer. Looks like the Phils will be hoping Blackley can cut down on the number of walks he gives up. Still plenty of time left to impress.

Mar 19, 2008

Spring Training Updates (19 Feb 08)

Only one Aussie in action today, Chris Snelling drew a walk in his one plate appearance as the Phils beat the Rays. For more on Snelling's chances of landing a spot on the roster, check out the comments on this post from There is some quite heated discussion.

Mar 18, 2008

Spring training updates (18 Mar 08)

Quick update from today's action:
  • Trent Oeltjen goes 2-for-2 with 2 singles in Arizona's win
  • Justin Huber finally gets some good game time, getting 4 at bats in KC's game against the A's. However, he did not capitalise, going 0-for-4
  • Similarly, Chris Snelling got more game time but no hits, leaving 3 runners on base
  • Peter Moylan face two batters in Atlanta's game, getting 2 ground outs.

Mar 17, 2008

Spring Training updates (17 Mar 08)

A few updates from today's action:
  • Grant Balfour faced one batter and retired him with a fly out as TB win over Detroit
  • The Phillies make me look like a goose and win a game, with both Blackley and Snelling involved. Blackley faced three batters in the ninth inning, walking one, getting one to flyout and the other to ground into a DP. Chris Snelling got a hit and 2 RBI
  • Looks like Trent Oeltjen spent some time in the field but did not bat in Arizona's game

Some news out of Seattle regarding Ryan Rowland-Smith, following his good outing on Sunday (Saturday US time). Bleeding Blue and Teal say that it seems

'The consensus on RRS is that he'll start the year in AAA as a starter, but
if he continues to put up zeros and finds his control the team will have no
choice but to consider carrying him as a middle or long reliever. If injuries
temporarily limit Seattle's bullpen depth, there is no reason not to carry RRS
for the first month or so'

Mar 16, 2008

Spring Training Updates (16 Mar 08)

As we head into the regular season, and all the footy action starts to gain momentum, there are a handful of Aussies still slogging it out in Spring Training Leagues. There were three Aussies in action today, led by Ryan Rowland-Smith, who delivered a bit of a pitching lesson to the rest of the Mariner's bullpen:

  • After Mariners' top signing Erik Bedard gave up 8 runs over 4 innings, Ryan Rowland-Smith came on to pitch two scoreless innings. He gave up one single, one walk, and struck out 2 of the 7 batters he faced. Rowland-Smith is duking it out with Eric O'Flaherty, Cesar Jimenez, Ryan Feierabend for the spot as the Mariner's left handed setup man. His stats for Spring are:

    W:0 L:0 ERA: 0.00 G:6 IP:8.2 H:7 R:1 ER:0 HR:0 BB:5 SO:5

    These compare well to his competitors stats. O'Flaherty hasnt pitched as much, but has strong numbers (0.00 ERA, 3 hits, 4 ks over 4.2 innings); Jiminez has posted a 6.75 ERA in his 4 games; and Feierabend has numbers of 3.68 ERA, 4 hits, 3 runs, 4 BB and 4 ks over 7.1 innings pitched. So things are very close indeed in the Mariners camp. But if Rowland-Smith can keep up with the quality performances he has produced so far, he may earn a spot in the pen.
  • Trent Oeltjen played in the Diamondbacks' loss to the Angels but missed out with the bat.
  • Chris Snelling played in Philadelphia's loss to the Twins, but he too missed out with the bat. The Phillies have a horrible spring training record (5-12) and Snelling and co will be hoping for a better start to the regular season.

Mar 15, 2008

Spring Training Updates (15 Mar 08)

Plenty of Aussies in action today. Less than two weeks till opening day, not long to go now. How many will make it to the bigs?

  • Justin Huber had one at bat and grounded into a double play in the Royals' loss to the Rangers.
  • Chris Snelling actually got a start today as the DH for the Phils. He got a double and a walk, but the Phils lost 9-1 to the Braves. Pitching for the Braves, Peter Moylan faced 4 batters, and gave up one walk (to Snelling) but no hits.
  • Grant Balfour got the win today for the Rays in their matchup with Toronto. He pitched the last 1.2 innings. After getting out of the 8th inning, and losing 3-4, the Rays' offense scored five runs. Balfour closed out the ninth, and Tampa Bay took the game 8-4.
  • Another outing for Rich Thompson, who got the save as the Angels beat the Cubs. He faced only 6 batters in 2 innings, and struck out 2. Good stuff.
  • Trent Oeltjen got bat on ball in his pinch hit today, reaching base on an error by Giants' shortstop Ivan Ochoa (who made three errors in the game - ouch!). The D-Backs lost 11-6

Mar 14, 2008

Olympics News

No Aussies in action in MLB spring training today.

There was though, some disappointing news about our Olympic squad. Unfortunately they have failed to qualify for Beijing, and wont be there to defend their silver medal from 2004. This is really quite a farce when you think about it, and it would seem only fair that they be given a better shot to qualify and defend their earlier achievement.

However, Canada beat Korea to cement their spot in the top 3 of the tournament, and seal Australia's fate.

For a good rundown of Jon Deeble's thoughts, including the suggestion that this was all a conspiracy on the part of the Asian nations, read this article

Mar 13, 2008

Great interview with Justin Huber

Courtesy of Baseball Australia's MLB - The Pitch, here is a link to a great interview with Justin Huber. He talks about the challenges he has faced at the Royals, with all his position changes, and gives some insight into how he spends the off season, and his thoughts about the National squad.

He shows great commitment and maturity and seems genuinely excited to be playing with the Royals, who he says are heading in the right direction.

To listen to the interview, follow this link.

Spring Training Updates & Olympic News (13 Mar 08)

Australia went down to Chinese Taipei last night 5-0. This was not a good result for the team, who are keen to defend their silver medal from 2004. It means that their chances of making it to Beijing are slim. They need to win their remaining games against Spain and South Africa (on paper this should be no problem, and at the time of writing, Australia were beating Spain 9-0 in the sixth). The bigger problem is that we need Canada to lose to Germany. Given Canada's recent performances against the Aussies, and Germany's run in the tournament so far, this does not look good. But, where there is life there is hope!

In today's spring training action:

Mar 12, 2008

Spring Training Update (12 Mar 08)

Plenty of good performances from Aussies playing in spring training games today:
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched in Seattle's loss to Colorado. He and Felix Hernandez kept the Rockies scoreless for six innings, before some of the other Mariners' releivers let in 4 runs to cop the loss. Another good performance from Rowland-Smith, who has had a very steady spring.
  • Rich Thompson pitched well against the Padres. He gave up 1 hit over 2 innings of work, getting 2 strikeouts, 3 fly-outs and 1 caught stealing.
  • Peter Moylan put in another reliable performance for the Braves. He gave up a double to Felipe Lopez, but went on to take two strikeouts and a ground out to finish the seventh in the Braves' 2-2 tie with the Nationals.
  • Justin Huber continued to stake his claim for a spot on the Royal's roster, driving in a 2 out RBI double to take the lead in the Royals' 8-7 win over the D-Backs. He really has been turning in some impressive performances so far this spring.
Stay tuned for a review of spring training performances so far, and predictions for how things might pan out for Aussies in the MLB this year.

Mar 11, 2008

Spring Training updates and more Olympics news (11 Mar 08)

More Aussies in action in Spring Training today, and with only a bit more than 2 weeks till opening day, things are heating up. Most camps have started to make cuts to their squad? How many Aussies will make it? Looks at this stage that 3 or 4 are looking alright, with a few more on the cusp. Today's action:
  • Chris Snelling scored an RBI double against the Pirates
  • Grant Balfour gave up a homer in his 1 inning of work against Cleveland. That was the only hit he gave up, and cemented Cleveland's 12-10 win
  • Trent Oeltjen had 2 at-bats in Arizona's 10-9 win over Colorado, but did not manage any hits, he still sports a plus .300 average over his appearances this spring
  • It seems Craig Anderson is still in the mix at the Orioles, with the first cut being announced, and his name absent from the list. He has only had two outings this spring, only giving up 2 hits over 2 innings pitched.

In more Olympic action, Australia went down to Mexico last night 7-4. Coach Jon Deeble has emphasised the importance of winning the remaining 4 games, one of which is up against the home side.

Mar 10, 2008

Spring Training Updates and Olympic News (10 Mar 08)

Two Aussies in action today:

In other MLB news, Trent Oeltjen has managed to avoid the Diamondbacks first cut of the spring training camp. Good work from Trent! Hopefully he can crack it for a spot in the D-backs outfield.

In Olympic news, Australia managed to beat Canada yesterday to keep our hopes alive. It was a good offensive performance, with Glenn Williams going 3-for-4 and Daniel Berg driving in 3 RBIs. Tonight we meet Mexico, who have a good squad, but have lost their opening 2 games.

Mar 9, 2008

Player Profile: Travis Blackley

Travis Blackley - LHP - Philadelphia Phillies
Born: 4 November 1982
Birthplace: Melbourne
MLB Debut: 1 July 2004

Blackley was signed by the Mariners on 29 October 2000 and began his career with single-A ball in 2001. He played two seasons of single-A before being promoted to double-A in 2003, where he led the Texas league in wins (17), was second in ERA (2.61) and fourth in strikeouts (144 over 162 innings). He played in the All-Star Futures Game in 2003.

He began 2004 playing triple-A, but was called up on 1 July 2004 to start in the Mariners game against the Rangers. He pitched 5.2 innings that day, and got the win, despite giving up a 3-run homer in the 6th.

Blackley started 6 games for the Mariners in 2004, finishing up 1-3 with an unflattering ERA of 10.04 over 26 innings. He then returned to triple-A Tacoma, where he ended the year 8-6 with a 3.83 ERA over 19 games. He ended 2004 with tendinitis, and in February 2005 he was diagnosed with two small tears in the labrum of his left shoulder. He spent the entire year recovering from surgery.

He spent most of 2006 in double-A, where he went 8-11 from 25 starts (4.06 ERA). He made 2 starts in triple-A in August, going 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA.

The Mariners traded Blackley to the Giants in 2007, and he played most of the year in triple-A. He went 10-8 with a 4.66 ERA in 28 starts. The Giants called him up in September, and he started two games, going 0-0 with a 7.68 ERA.

The Phillies picked Blackley up under the rule 5 draft. This means he has to stay on the Phillies 25-man roster all year, or be offered back to the Giants.

References and links:

Olympic News

The Aussie Olympic Baseball squad has commenced play in the qualifying tournament in Taiwan. Friday night saw them beat the baseball minnows Germany 4-1. However on Saturday night our pitching lost the plot and we went down to Korea 16-2 in 7 innings, with the 10-run rule being invoked! As if that wasnt bad enough, our best pitching came from Paul Weichard - who started the game in centrefield! He faced six batters in two innings and got three strikeouts. Sign him up to start the next game!

Australia meets Canada today at 3.30pm (AEST) and will be looking to get an important win.

Spring Training Updates (9 Mar 08)

More Aussies in action this morning:

  • Phil Stockman pitched one inning of relief for 1 hit and 1 k in Atlanta's loss to the Reds
  • Travis Blackley and Chris Snelling both appeared in Philadelphia's 9-5 loss to the Indians. Blackley was apparently 'wild', and Snelling got 1 RBI in 2 at bats, but also left 3 runners on. Of Blackley's outing, said 'The best that can be said about Blackley's outing was that he got his work in. He was roughed up for five runs on four hits, with four walks and three strikeouts, in just 1 2/3 innings'. Seems there were some tough wind conditions at play, and Blackley may not have handled these well. He did manage a few strikeouts, and had a good first outing for the Phils, so he is still in contention for their 5th starter spot. See some fan comments about the game here
  • Justin Huber struck out in his only at bat against the Brewers, as the Royals went down 8-2.

Mar 8, 2008

Spring Training Updates (8 Mar 08)

Whole heap of news coming out of todays spring training. Plus I found another player doing the rounds!

  • Trent Oeltjen, who was previously signed to the Twins, has been training with the Diamondbacks as a non-roster invitee. It was only when I checked up to see how the Padres had gone today that I noticed his name in the boxscore. Looks like he has had a pretty good start to spring training. He has had 6 at bats in 6 games, with 2 hits and 2 runs for a .333 avg.
  • Chris Snelling and the Phillies received a bit of a flogging today from the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been running hot this spring. Snelling had one at bat for no hits, and his spring avg is steady at .156
  • Rich Thompson had his first outing of the year, with 2 innings in the Angels' win against the White Sox.
  • Further to the news from the other day about the Braves' injury concerns, there has been some worry about Peter Moylan's elbow, as well as Rafael Soriano's arm. However, the Braves arent showing any signs of worry, stating that their top two closing men are just suffering from some early season irritation
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith had another outing today with the Mariners. He finished the last 2 outs of the 4th inning after the Cubs took 4 runs. The Mariners pen kept the Cubs scoreless for the rest of the game
  • Justin Huber was back in action today, drawing a walk and scoring a run, and striking out in his other plate appearance. Huber's spring record looks good, with an avg of .506 from 4 games.

Mar 7, 2008

Spring Training Updates (7 Mar 08)

Some more outings over the last two days:
  • Chris Snelling played in the Phillies' game against Detroit on Thursday (AEST), drawing two walks and striking out once.
  • Damian Moss got the save in the Braves' win over the Tigers on Friday
  • Grant Balfour managed to escape what ended up being the final inning in the Rays' 6-4 win over the Phillies. He gave up a 2 run homer to Chase Utley, but did not allow any more runs
  • Finally, Justin Huber is back on deck after being affected by a flu. He drove in a run in the Royal's win over the D-Backs

Mar 5, 2008

Moylan contract and developments; Huber progress

Reports from Atlanta earlier this week said that Peter Moylan has agreed to a one year contract with the Braves. There are reports out today that Braves' closer Rafael Soriano is experiencing some irritation to his elbow, which he had surgery on in the off-season. If Soriano is injured for any period of time, it is possible that Moylan could land the spot as the Braves' closer. Combined with Moylan's reasonably good start to spring training, this could flag good things to come in 2008.

Meanwhile at the Royals, manager Trey Hillman has confirmed that Justin Huber is still in with a shot to crack the roster this year, saying he ahas been playing some good left field.

Spring Training Update (5 Mar 08) + Olympic News

Couple of pieces of news today:
  • Chris Snelling went head to head with Phil Stockman today. Snelling won the battle, with a pinch-hit single off Stockman in the ninth, but the Braves won the war, with a drubbing of the Phillies.
  • Meanwhile, Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched an inning and took the loss in the Mariners' game against Oakland. He allowed 1 walk, 1 hit, 1 run, and struck out 2.

In other news, Baseball Australia today announced the squad for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers. Australia play their first game against Germany on 7 March. With a lot of young up-and-comers in the squad, it will be a challenge for the team, with coach Jon Deeble noting that 'we are witnessing the birth of our next generation of Australian stars'.

Mar 4, 2008

Spring Training Update (4 Mar 08)

Here's a roundup of the news out of spring training games today:
  • Grant Balfour pitched 1.1 innings in the Rays 7-5 win over the Tigers. For more details of his outing, see this page (see updates from 1.46pm onwards)
  • Another not-so-great outing for Chris Snelling, who pinch hit in 1 at-bat for the Phillies today. He flew out.
  • Craig Anderson pitched a dig in the Orioles' 4-4 tie with the Dodgers. He gave up 1 run off a single late in the game.
  • Justin Huber is out of action for a few days battling the flu. Just what he needs right now! See this page for more on his changes of landing a spot for opening day.

Mar 3, 2008

Player Profile: Justin Huber

Justin Huber - C/1B/OF - San Diego Padres
Born: 1 July 1982
Birthplace: Melbourne
MLB Debut: 21 June 2005

Justin Huber took up baseball during primary school and represented Victoria and Australia as a schoolboy. He played in the team that won the Victorian Under 18 championship shortly before being drafted by the New York Mets in 2000. Huber has had a bit of a cult following since joining the Royals in 2004. Despite his apparent popularity among Royals' fans, it seems Huber has not had an easy time making it into the Royals MLB roster.

With the Mets, Huber became a good catching prospect, although some scouts questioned his defensive capabilities. On 30 July 2004, the Mets traded Huber to the Royals as part of a deal to acquire Jose Bautista. In mid-2004, Huber switched positions from catcher to first base, and in 2005 he played 25 games with the Royals - mainly as a DH/pinch hitter, with some games at first base. Baseball America labelled him the best first baseman in the entire minor leagues. on 10 July 2005 he was named the MVP of the Futures Game, in which he went 1-for-2 with a 2-out, 2-run double.

In 2006, Huber played only 5 games with the Royals, and appeared only as a DH/PH. He also switched positions again, mainly playing in the minors as a corner-outfielder.

Huber battled injuries throughout much of 2007, and was called up to the Royals again in September. This eight game spell saw him play his first major league outfield, playing as a substitute in left field against the White Sox on 17 September 2007.

Huber appears to be a bit of a favorite prospect among Royals fans. However, whether he can make it to the majors again this year seems to be in doubt. He seems positive about the challenges ahead, but it seems there may be no place for him in the Royals in 2008

I’m trying not to think about it,” he says. “I really like this organization. I think they’ve been very good to me. I think there are a lot of great young players here, and I want to be a part of it. I can’t know how it will go,but I want to be part of things here as we become a winning organization.”

Hopefully he can pull together some more strong performances over spring, and land a spot in the roster for opening day.

UPDATED 31 MARCH 2008 - Huber has been traded to the Padres, and will start the season on their 25 man roster. For more info, read this.

References and links:

Spring Training Update (3 Mar 08)

Just one Aussie featured in today's spring training action - Damian Moss, who the Braves recently signed to a minor league contract - pitched one inning for 1 hit, 1 walk and 1 K in the Braves' 6-4 win over the Astros.

Also today, more on Travis Blackley's good outing against the Nats last week. Phils' manager Charlie Manuel has said that while Blackley has always been a starter, there is a chance he may wind up in the Phils' pen this year.

Looks like Ryan Rowland-Smith might end up playing triple-A this year. According to the Mariners official site, it looks like he will definitely miss out on a spot in the starting rotation, and may not make the pen either.

Mar 2, 2008

Spring Training Update (2 Mar 08)

Just one Aussie in spring training action today; Chris Snelling featured in the Phillies' 9-3 loss against the Yankees. Snelling had 1 hit and 1 strikeout from 4 at bats.

Mar 1, 2008

Player Profile: Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour - RHP - Tampa Bay Rays
Born: 30 December 1977
Birthplace: Sydney
MLB Debut: 22 July 2001 with Minnesota Twins

Balfour grew up in Sydney and originally played as a catcher. He represented Australia at various levels, and pitched at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. He made his major league debut on 22 July 2001 against Seattle. He pitched 1.2 innings of relief and gave up 2 walks, 1 hit and 1 run, while striking out 2. In his second outing, also against Seattle, he gave up 2 home runs in one inning. He didnt stay in the top league for long, on 29 July 2001 he was optioned back to Edmonton. He also played in the 2001 All Star Futures Game.

Balfour spent 2002 in the minors, pitching relief in Triple-A Edmonton. He had a good year at Edmonton in 2003, and was selected to play in the Triple-A All Star Game. He was called up to Minnesota late in the season, and played two stints (3 July to 16 July, and 18 Aug to season end). He pitched mainly in relief, but also got one start against the Angels on 3 September. In that game he walked 5 and allowed 4 hits, for 4 runs, over 2.2 innings. He finished 2003 with 30 strikeouts over 26 innings, and an ERA of 4.15.

He entered 2004 as the Twins' ninth best prospect according to Baseball America. He spent a bit of time on the DL with shoulder problems including tendinitis. On his return he had 36 outings in relief. He got a taste of post-season action, with two October outings against the Indians, after the Twins won the AL Central Division.

Balfour missed all of 2005 after needing Tommy John surgery. In January 2006, he was signed by the Reds, but spent most of the year on the DL, recovering from arm and shoulder injuries. On 5 October 2006, Milwaukee claimed him from waivers, and he signed a one year contract. Brewer's catcher Johnny Estrada was impressed by Balfour, saying he was 'unbelieveable' and had 'sharp stuff'. Balfour had a couple of outings for Milwaukee, before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on 28 July 2007 for Seth McClung. He appeared in 25 games for the Rays in 2007 and avoided any major injuries.

Balfour is currently trying to secure his spot in the Rays' bullpen for 2008.

Current Aussie MLB Players

Based on info on the Australian Baseball website, and on, these are the players currently looking to start 2008 on the roster of an MLB team:
  • Craig Anderson - Baltimore Orioles
  • Grant Balfour - Tampa Bay Rays
  • Travis Blackley - Philadelphia Phillies
  • Justin Huber - Kansas City Royals
  • Peter Moylan - Atlanta Braves
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith - Seattle Mariners
  • Chris Snelling - Philadelphia Philles
  • Phil Stockman - Atlanta Braves
  • Rich Thompson - LA Angels

I will add to this list if and when I come across any more players. Drop a comment if there is someone missing from the list

Huber fighting hard for spot in Royals lineup

Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star has posted a great article about Justin Huber's spring training quest. Posnanski notes that the spots in the Royals' starting lineup are pretty much settled, but they don't leave much room for Justin Huber:

The roster, barring injuries, is more or less set. Huber is out of options,
meaning that the Royals cannot just send him back to the minor leagues. If he
does not crash his way onto the team, the Royals will have to put him on waivers

That's not such great news for Huber, who has had a good start to spring training after a frustrating season in the minors. However, he seems undaunted. Check out the comments for some good support for Huber. Hopefully he can keep it up through Spring and land a spot.

Spring Training Updates

A few Aussies went around today. Here's the latest: