Rookie League – Two Young Players From Australia Seeing Time With the GCL Pirates

By John Dreker/piratesprospects.com
The Pittsburgh Pirates have two 18-year-old players from Australia making their pro debuts in the Gulf Coast League this year. If you follow the site closely, both players have been mentioned here often because they have played Winter ball, including stints in the Australian Baseball League, playing against competition that is usually much older and much more advanced. The league has some players with Major League experience, as well as many minor league veterans. That’s great experience for young players, but it also shows how advanced they are, because you don’t play in the ABL unless you’re good enough to help the team.

The first player from today is starting pitcher Nick Hutchings, who has made six starts so far. He has a 5.33 ERA in 25.1 innings, with a 9/16 BB/SO ratio and a 1.65 GO/AO ratio. The important thing to remember with the 6’2″, right-hander is that he is younger than many high school draft picks from 2014, so while the results might not look great, you have to keep them in perspective.

Above and below are two videos of Hutchings last outing. All videos here are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.

 

Sam Kennelly has seen limited action in his first year in the States. He has played 11 games, hitting .231 with two doubles(one shown below) and a 5/6 BB/SO ratio. He got in a lot of action in the off-season, playing tournament ball, seeing time with a club team and playing for the Perth Heat in the Australian Baseball League. He will likely play in the ABL again this year and of course, he will see time in the Fall Instructional League, so the limited playing time shouldn’t have an adverse effect on him. Kennelly signed for $225K in 2012, so he was one of the higher profile signings that year. Just like Hutchings, he finished out school before coming to the United States to play.

The three videos below are all we have on him, so while it starts off good with a double, there is also a ground out and the ever-popular walk. It’s still three chances to get to see a player at a level you normally get nothing from as far as video.

The double. This is a nice long at-bat that obviously ends good.

The ground out.

The 3-1 pitch here looked hard to lay off of…

Independent Leagues – de San Miguel, Erasmus, Lamb, Searle, Tanner

Mixed bag for Ryan Searle who had a win and a loss

Mixed bag for Ryan Searle who had a win and a loss

Catcher Allan de San Miguel with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Atlantic League played in 4 games and went 2-11 with 4RBI [16] and 1HR [4]. After 47 games and 143ABs he is hitting .217 [31-143].

Justin Erasmus appeared in 3 games, all no decisions for Fargo-Moorhead. He has a 2-2 record in 24 games and 50.1IP with 2 saves and a 4.47ERA.

Frontier Greys’ Cameron Lamb has appeared in 2 games this week for 2 no decisions .  After 23 games [27IP] he has a 2-4 record and a team leading 8 saves. He has one of the better ERA’s in the team at 2.33.

In 2 starts this week Grand Prairie Airhogs’ Ryan Searle collected his 4th win but also suffered his 6th loss. His record now stands at 4-6 with a slightly lower 4.48ERA after 13 games and 84.1 innings.

With Amarillo is Sydney born Clayton Tanner who has had 2 starts this week to collect his 1st win.  He now has a 1-1 record and a 4.98ERA after 21.1 IP.

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Melbourne to host the 2014-2015 ABL All-Star Game for the third consecutive year

Justin Huber joins Minister Drum & Ben Foster, General Manager of the ABL, in celebrating the announcement yesterday

Justin Huber joins Minister Drum
& Ben Foster, General Manager of the ABL, in celebrating
the announcement yesterday

MELBOURNE, Victoria – The Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation, the Hon Damian Drum, has announced that Melbourne will host the 2014 Australian Baseball League All-Star Game for the third consecutive year at Melbourne Ballpark on Wednesday, 17 December at 7:30pm.

The ABL All-Star game is expected to feature as many as a dozen current and former Major Leaguers as well as some of the best prospects from world famous organisations like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Detroit Tigers.

The event will also mark the first game the country’s national baseball team, the Southern Thunder, has played on home soil since their historic upset of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and near-victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers, at the 2014 MLB Opening Series last April at the SCG.

The Southern Thunder, comprised of the Australian baseball league’s best home-grown talent, will take on the league’s top performing international import players in a single, nine-inning exhibition game.

Minister Drum reaffirmed Sport Recreation Victoria’s continued support of the event and growing the game of baseball in the state.

“The Victorian Government is proud to have played its part over the years by providing funding for improvements at Melbourne Ballpark,” says Minister Drum. “The field is now an appropriate venue for this high-level competition – and one that Victorians can be proud of.”

Renovations included a new playing surface, luxury corporate facilities, improvements to the dugouts and players’ clubhouses and expanded spectator seating.

“We are grateful for the Victorian Government’s ongoing efforts in growing baseball in the state,” says Ben Foster, General Manager of the ABL. “The refurbished Melbourne Ballpark is arguably Australia’s best baseball facility and the perfect setting to host one of our sport’s biggest events.

The 2014 ABL All-Star game is expected to be televised nationally in Australia and internationally to over 25 Asian-Pacific countries including Japan, Korea and Taiwan, where baseball is the national sport.Further_Reading_Header-1024x185

Complete Aussie Player List

A change of club for Liam Chris So / Toronto Star File Photo

Another change of club for Liam
Chris So / Toronto Star File Photo

The big change this week was of course the trade which sent Liam Hendriks to the Kansas City Royals’ AAA club in Omaha.

David Kandilas  [Rockies] and Nathan Haas [Braves] have joined the ever growing list of players on the DL.   Players on rehab [i.e. they are on extended  DL] are:- Dean Aldridge (Tigers), Elliott Hargreaves [Reds], Dakota Mitchell (Reds), Josh Warner [Phillies]

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Majors:  Grant Balfour (Rays),

Triple-AJames Beresford (Twins), Liam Hendriks (Royals), John Holdzkom (Pirates), Ryan Rowland-Smith (Reds)

Double-AJohn Hussey (Padres), Matt Kennelly (Braves), Warwick Saupold (Tigers), Stefan Welch (Red Sox).

High-A Corey Adamson [Padres], Tim Atherton [A's], Ryan Battaglia [Indians], David Kandilas [Rockies],  Todd Van Steensel [Twins]

Low-A:  Darryl George [Rays], Daniel McGrath [Red Sox], Lewis Thorpe (Twins), Logan Wade [Twins],

Short Season A :  Sam Holland (Padres), Robbie Perkins [Rockies], Sam Street [Pirates].

Rookie:  Jack Barrie [Twins],  Jared Cruz (Braves), Ryan Dale (Royals), Sam Gibbons [Twins], Josh Guyer (Twins),Nathan Hass (Braves), Karl Hoschke (Braves), Nick Hutchings (Pirates), Sam Kennelly (Pirates), Ben Leslie [Giants], Todd McDonald (Rangers),  James Philibossian (Tigers), Pita Rona (Orioles), Aaron Sayers [Tigers], Zac Shepherd (Tigers),

Dominican Rookie League: Jake Bowey [Astros], Connor MacDonald (Astros), Lachlan Madden (Astros), Adam Silva [Yankees], Hayden Timberlake [Astros]

Independent Leagues:  Allan de San Miguel [Blue Crabs], Justin Erasmus [Fargo Redhawks], Cameron Lamb [Frontier Greys], Connar O’Gorman [Amarillo], Ryan Searle [Grand Prairie], Josh Spence [Amarillo], Clayton Tanner [Amarillo]

MLBAAP:  Brandon Stenhouse (Yankees)

Rehab:  Dean Aldridge (Tigers)Elliott Hargreaves [Reds], Dakota Mitchell (Reds), Josh Warner [Phillies]

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Jeers to Cheers for Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with catcher Curt Casali #59 of the Tampa Bay Rays after a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers during a game on July 29, 2014 at Tropicana Field   (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Grant Balfour celebrates with catcher Curt Casali after their 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

It seems that its not just the Tampa Bay Rays who are experiencing a resurgence.  Sacked closer, Grant Balfour, seems to have lifted his game to earlier standards as well.   Whilst it wasn’t a save situation re the rules of baseball it might well have been for Grant.   He’s experienced some negative fan reaction recently but today those jeers turned to a standing ovation as he cut through the 3 hitters he faced in the 9th of the Rays’ 5-1 win over the Divisional Leader.

Back to his customary mumbling on the mound he faced the minimum 3 and struck out 2 and induced a weak ground out in a performance that reminded the now cheering fans of the man they thought they were getting at the beginning of the season.   With the Rays now only 4.5 games out of a wild card spot those fans might just start believing that their team could make the post season.   After all that was one of the reasons that Grant was pleased to move back to Tampa.

Liam Hendriks Trade Interview

AAA – Beresford, Hendriks, Holdzkom, Rowland-Smith

John Holdzkom continues to impress Photo Joe Vella / SMP Images / ABL.

John Holdzkom continues to impress
Photo Joe Vella / SMP Images / ABL.

James Beresford was a little quieter this week but not by much.  No home runs in the last 10 days but he did hit 3 doubles in his 7-31 output whilst scoring 3 runs and 3RBI.   He is now hitting .274 after 100 games with 39RBI and 19 doubles.

It was a week that finished in an unexpected manner for Toronto’s Liam Hendriks who was traded to the Kansas City Royals yesterday.  He pitched in 2 games for a win [his 8th] and a no decision.   In both games he threw 7 innings for the Buffalo Bisons allowing 4 runs on 8 hits [1HR] in the no decision and a remarkable effort in the win conceding only 1 run on 5 hits. The Bisons scored an 11-10 win in 10 innings over Lehigh Valley in that game to snap a nine-game losing streak. Liam struck out nine without issuing a walk in his seven innings of work.

So he leaves Toronto with a 8-1 record after 18 games and 108.1 innings and a 2.33ERA.  Now its off to the Omaha Storm Chasers in the Pacific Coast League and hopefully a stint with the Royals.

The Pirates’ John Holdzkom has appeared in 4 games for the Indianapolis Indians since our last report.  He had 3 scoreless games in that time frame and in the other he allowed only 1 home run in the 2.1 innings whilst striking out 4.   He’s continuing to impress with a 3.38ERA and 2-0 record after 7 games with the Indians.

Ryan Rowland-Smith threw in 3 scoreless outings in the 4 games he appeared in for the Louisville Bats.  In the other he allowed 2 run on 3 hits in the 1 inning.   His record now after 12 games is 0-0 4.20ERA.

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Hendriks Eyes Return To Bigs With New Team

Hendriks29by Alexis Brudnicki/canadianbaseballnetwork.com

Buffalo, NY – Liam Hendriks was just a few innings away from the crown.

On Monday night, the Buffalo Bisons’ right-hander was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays – along with backup catcher Erik Kratz – to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for infielder Danny Valencia, leaving the pitcher just short of winning the title for having the best earned run average in the International League.

“It’s a good break for those guys,” Bisons hitting coach and Monday’s acting manager Richie Hebner said. “Hendriks pitched well. Someone said he needed five more innings to win the ERA here. Well, he’s not going to get five more innings.

“He’s not going to lose any sleep over that, going to the big leagues. And Kratz, that’s a good break for those two – anytime you can leave triple-A and go to the big leagues, and they’re going right to Kansas City.”

Though the Royals announced that the former Bisons backstop would be added to the active roster in time for their series against the Minnesota Twins – the Aussie hurler’s long-time organizational home – beginning on Tuesday, Hendriks had yet to learn whether he would be joining his teammate or making his way to triple-A Omaha.

“Obviously I hope to go to Kansas City, but we’ll see how it goes,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m not sure of their pitching needs. I know that would be good if I can go back up there because they play the Twins shortly so that would be a good opportunity.

“Hopefully I can get into a game against them, which would be nice, but I’m just going to take it as it comes and play it by ear for now. I haven’t heard too much, I’m just waiting to hear from them and see where it takes me.”

Even with the trade deadline approaching and the Blue Jays openly active on the market, the International League all-star had no idea that he could be leaving as a potential piece for another club.

“It caught me off guard a little bit, but I think it’s going to be exciting, a new experience,” Hendriks said. “They haven’t told me where I’m going yet, but I know my wife and I are pretty excited to try to start it again and see how this goes. I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Royals organization, so I’m pretty excited.”

After a whirlwind off-season that saw Hendriks change organizations several times from Minnesota to the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles and then to Toronto, the righty is looking forward to another fresh start, though this time there won’t be as many familiar faces as there were in his last transition.

“Coming to the Blue Jays was a little bit easier than going to the Orioles,” Hendriks said. “The Orioles, I didn’t really know too many people so everybody was brand new. Coming to the Blue Jays I knew a couple of the guys, I played against them, and Anthony Gose actually lived at my house [in Australia when we were teenagers], so that actually made it a little bit easier.

“Now going to the Royals, the only player I did know there was the one who’s coming the other way [Valencia], so it’s going to be a whole new environment.

Hopefully, if it’s the Royals, I’ve spoken to a couple guys there previously, playing against them when I was with the Twins and stuff like that, so at least I’ll have a little bit of a rapport with them.

“But if I go to Omaha, I haven’t even looked at their roster or anything like that. You walk in, you try and be as friendly as you can, and hopefully they’re friendly back.”

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Liam Hendriks traded to Kansas City

'Everythings up to date in Kansas City' for Liam Hendriks now

‘Everythings up to date in Kansas City’ for Liam Hendriks now

KANSAS CITY, MO (July 28, 2014) – The Kansas City Royals announced tonight that they have acquired minor league catcher Erik Kratz and right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks from the Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for infielder Danny Valencia. Kratz will join the Royals in time for Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota, while Hendriks will be assigned to Triple-A Omaha.

Hendriks, 25, was named the Top Star from the International League at the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 16, pitching 2.0 scoreless innings and recording four strikeouts. He’s made 16 starts for the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, Buffalo, going 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA, recording 91 strikeouts in 108.1 innings, while holding opponents to a .231 batting average this season. The young righty has made three starts for Toronto in 2014, going 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA with eight strikeouts. Hendriks was selected off waivers by three different teams this offseason, ending up with Toronto on February 21.

He was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins as a non-drafted free agent out of Perth, Australia in 2007. He participated in the SiriusXM Radio Futures All-Star Games (2010, 2011) and pitched in 30 games for the Twins over a three-year period (2011-13).

 

AA – Hussey, Kennelly, Saupold, Welch

John Hussey picked up his 5th win. Photo : Brett Crockford SMP Images

John Hussey picked up his 4th win for San Antonio.
Photo : Brett Crockford SMP Images

San Antonio Missions’ John Hussey had 5 games out of the pen this last week and a bit.  With the exception of today’s game when he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits over 3 innings all his others were scoreless affairs and included his 4th win so it was a good week for the Melbourne righty.   His win was a 2 inning affair in which he allowed 2 hits and 2 walks but allowed no runs.   His next 2 outings were for 3.1 and 3 innings so he’s getting plenty of work and his record now sits at 4-5 and 4.32 after 29 games.   He should be happy with that considering he has thrown 6 scoreless games in his last 10.

The Braves’ Matt Kennelly had a quiet patch this past week going 2-24 which has lowered his avg. to .279 for the season after 55 games..

Warwick Saupold collected his 6th and 7th wins this week meaning he has now earned 5 wins in his last 10 outings.   He’s clearly pleased Lance Parrish his manager [see article below] who commented after his latest 6 inning effort:- “I’ve been waiting for this game from Warwick for a long time, I know he’s capable of doing that and I don’t know what’s been going on with him health-wise. (Friday) he was the Warwick we’ve all waited to see. He’s a bulldog and I’m happy to see him with a performance like that. We could certainly use it down the stretch.”

His record now is 7-8 and 5.20ERA after 20 games.

Boston’s Stefan Welch has had a much better time this past week for the Portland Sea Dogs .  In 8 games he hit 6-25 which has raised his avg. to .231 after 76 games.  Let’s hope that means he’s got his mojo back as its been a bit of a dry spell for him recently.

 

 

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