Blue Jays Acquire Liam Hendriks

Back with Toronto.  Photo Eddie Michels

Back with Toronto. Photo Eddie Michels

The Toronto Blue Jays Have acquired RHP Liam Hendriks from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for C Santiago Nessy.

Liam, 25, began the regular season in the Blue Jays organization prior to being dealt to Kansas City along with C Erik Kratz for INF Danny Valencia on July 28.

In nine games (six starts) for Toronto and Kansas City, the right-hander went 1-2 with a 5.23 ERA.

In Buffalo (AAA), he recorded an 8-1 mark with a 2.33 ERA in 18 games (16 starts) and at time of trade was leading the International League in ERA.

The eight-year professional has posted a 3-15 record in 39 Major League games (34 starts) with a 5.92 ERA.

ABLBuzz predict a Perth/Sydney Championship Final

ABL2Never one to keep his thoughts to himself Boris at ABLBuzz has spent some time reviewing the ABL teams for the coming season.   After he’s listed each teams’ strengths [and in some cases weaknesses] he very bravely has listed how he sees the teams finishing.   Your welcome to disagree with him but be warned, he’s studied the form closely so you will need to line up your reasons logically and carefully before getting into a debate with him.

Here is what he says about the finals:-

The Finals:

Perth vs Sydney

Despite having concerns over the state of the pitching in Perth right now, I still feel they will add enough to be around when the big stuff begins. A solid offense sprinkled with savvy big-game players has them once again in the championship round for mine.

Sydney doesn’t have an explosive offense all round but a healthy Oeltjen and Kandilas with solid looking imports gives them an excellent balance. Their pitching is solid across the starters without being spectacular, while their bullpen contains some of the filthiest arms in the ABL.

The Result:

Perth takes it out 2-1 on a Joey Wong single that scores Brian Pointer for the winning run in Game 3. Pointer immediately breaks into the “Neutron Dance”, sending the Barbagallo faithful into a frenzy.

Go to ABLBuzz to get the complete rundown.   We thoroughly recommend it.  Boris has a wicked sense of humour coupled with a deep understanding of the game.

Williams Leads Bite to win in opener

Right-hander throws seven innings as Adelaide triumph

bite:bneThe Adelaide Bite went down early in their opening matchup of season 2014/15 against the Brisbane Bandits but managed to tack on the last eight runs of the ballgame to claim an 8-3 victory.

David Sutherland got the Bandits off to a good start, batting in Logan Wade in the top of the 3rd, before Tampa Bay Rays prospect Maxx Tissenbaum picked up a 2 run RBI single to centre field, and in the blink of an eye, the Bandits were up 3-0.

Bite gun recruit Mitch Dening then proved his worth with an RBI double, before import Craig Maddox nailed a deep line drive into centre field, with Dening, Tom Brice and Ben Lodge all crossing home plate to give the Bite a 4-3 lead and they were never headed.

The Bandits might have lost but their security and fans still seem happy

The Bandits might have lost but their security and fans still seem happy

Bite starting pitcher Matt Williams went seven innings deep in the ballgame, proving his durability and strong will after conceding three early runs. He finished the night with a well-earned win, and picked up five strikeouts in the process.

A model of consistency, 2013/14 Bite batting trophy winner Ben Lodge went 2-for-4 on the night with a two run RBI double in the top of the sixth to extend the Bite’s advantage, before the San Diego Padres AAA-prospect Rocky Gale claimed an RBI double in the top of the 8th to put the game out of the Bandits reach.

Source: Adelaide Bite

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Hey now, you’re an All-Star – [The David Nilsson story]

HE’S Australia’s most successful athlete most Australians probably never heard of.

Picture: Russell Shakespeare

Picture: Russell Shakespeare

By: Frances Whiting/Courier-Mail

Strolling among the vendors hawking two foot-long chilli dogs and the salted peanut stands at the Sydney Cricket Ground earlier this year, when America’s Major League Baseball came to town, was a tall, amiable bloke called David Nilsson.

For two days only, the SCG was transformed into a bona fide red, white and blue ball park, attracting some 80,000 fans, and an event where Nilsson, 44, felt right at home.

The small-business owner from Bridgeman Downs in Brisbane’s northwest could be seen shooting the breeze with MLB’s most powerful man, Commissioner Bud Selig, chatting with the crew from ESPN, America’s leading cable sports channel, and trading high fives with star players from the LA Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Because while many in his home state of Queensland may not know Nilsson, they sure do know him in American baseball circles – particularly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of the beloved Milwaukee Brewers where Nilsson was once the team’s favourite, if imported, son.

For eight years, from 1992 to 1999, Nilsson was the Brewers’ star catcher, a 193cm southpaw who’d earned the fans’ respect and gained two nicknames – “Dingo” and the “Thunder from Down Under” – along the way.

Rated in the MLB’s 2013 Power Rankings as the “greatest catcher in Milwaukee Brewers history”,

Nilsson was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in May this year. And in the intensely competitive world of American baseball, Nilsson won coveted selection in the 1999 All-Stars team.

Each year’s All-Stars, selected from the MLB’s 30 teams, are voted for by coaches and fans. Until last year – when Grant Balfour, originally of NSW and now playing for the Tampa Bay Rays, was selected – no other Australian had made the cut.

Over 1000 games and 105 home runs, “Dingo” Nilsson was one of baseball’s big hitters, both literally and lucratively. In 1999, he was Australia’s second-highest earning sportsman behind golfer Greg Norman, and during the ’90s he made a fortune, his final three-year deal with the Brewers rumoured to have been worth $US20 million.

nilsson29A

When Nilsson left the Brewers, he signed with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons for a one-year multimillion-dollar contract; later, he flirted with joining the Boston Red Sox or perhaps the New York Yankees, both of which had approached him at different times, but instead took the Australian baseball team to two Olympic Games.

And then, he walked away.

His frame fills the doorway, his torso momentarily blocking out the sun behind it, his handshake surprisingly gentle. “Hello,” David Nilsson says quietly, “thank you for inviting me.”

For a man with his own set of baseball cards, Nilsson – married to Amanda and father to Jacob, 16, Tyla, 14, Grace, 7, Ashleigh, 5, and Elijah, 3 – is polite, self-effacing and modest, to a point.

Later, when asked if his freakish talent for baseball was evident at an early age, he answers somewhat haltingly: “I don’t ever recall, in my own age group, um, being average.”

His profile may be lower than those of his contemporaries inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 2008 – Ian Thorpe, Alisa Camplin and Todd Woodbridge – but then the game in which he excelled is still finding its feet in this country.

David Nilsson in 1987 playing for Queensland.

David Nilsson in 1987 playing for Queensland.

While its popularity is growing – with Australian Baseball League attendance figures steadily increasing from 114,000 in its first 2010-2011 season to 148,000 in 2013-14 – it’s unlikely to ever attain the stature it has in the United States, where last year 74 million spectators attended MLB games.

Competition for a place in an MLB team starts with a dog-paddle through thousands of little league games in the hope of being spotted, then a long, slow slog through the minor leagues, starting at the very bottom of the tank, and hoping to come up for air long enough to be plucked from obscurity to swim with the big fish. So how did a boy from Stafford State School in Brisbane’s inner north, having had a childhood “as Queensland as you can get”, become one of them?

Nilsson’s eyes crinkle as freckles dance across his nose. “Well,” he grins, “I can’t say it was easy.”

David Nilsson displays his rookie of the year award trophy and the prestigions Helms award for the most valuable player in the Claxton shield in 1987.

David Nilsson displays his rookie of the year award trophy and the prestigions Helms award for the most valuable player in the Claxton shield in 1987.

Gordon Park, northside Brisbane, 1970s; in the shade of a sprawling mango tree, the Nilsson boys – Bob, Gary, Ronald, and David, the youngest – are pitching curve balls and sliders in the back yard, as their father, Tim, watches on. In a town that’s all about the cricket and footy, the Nilsson family, including mum Patricia and older sisters Jeannie and Susan, are an anomaly in their fascination for baseball.   [More...]

The Season Is Here! – Bite vs Bandits Preview

Adelaide Bite are favourites to win the series against the Bandits

Adelaide Bite are favourites to win the series against the Bandits

By Sam Finn /Adelaide Bite

The Adelaide Bite will begin their 2014/15 ABL Championship campaign against the Brisbane Bandits in a four game series at the Bandits’ home, AFA Stadium.

Last season the Bite finished with a 6-5 record against the Bandits, with the Bite taking out five of the last seven encounters against the ABL’s Queensland representative.

KEY PLAYERS

ADELAIDE – Mitch Dening (OF)

The Bite pulled off a marquee signing during the offseason, with Ex-Sydney Blue Sox and Team Australia member Mitch Dening committing to the Bite for season 2014/15. Dening has been a star in the ABL, hitting above .300 for the past two seasons for the Blue Sox. With 12 RBIs and 31 hits from his 103 at bats, Dening maintained his reputation as one of Australia’s premier baseballers during an interrupted season 2013/14.

ADELAIDE – Rocky Gale (C)

The Bite’s main man behind the plate this season is Rocky Gale, a Padres affiliate and member of the AAA-El Paso Chihuahua’s in 2014. Gale’s average of .303 for the Chihuahua’s in 2014 was a career high, and combine that with picking up 35 RBIs and 69 hits from his 228 at bats, Gale gives the Bite a consistent option in the batting lineup.

ADELAIDE – Matt Williams (P)

After joining the Bite from the Sydney Blue Sox at the start of last season, Matt Williams has been a cult figure for Bite fans, and a standout pitcher for the Bite. Williams won the pitching award for the Bite last season after finishing with an ERA of 2.89, with eight saves and 36 strikeouts. Williams also converted from star closer, to star starter, throwing seven complete innings as a starter in a game against his former side.

ADELAIDE – Morgan Coombs (P)

One of the Bite’s imports that has high hopes for the season is Morgan Coombs, an independent player that has represented the Gary SouthShore RailCats during the 2014 season. Coombs is a crafty right handed pitcher with plenty of variation on the mound. Even though Coombs’ throws just above 80mph, his ability to make the baseball dance gives him batters something different to think about.

BRISBANE – Johnny Field (CF)

A Tampa Bay Rays prospect, Johnny Field arrives at the Bandits coming off a season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2014. Field finished with an average of exactly .300 this season, with 58 RBIs, 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases during 2014.

BRISBANE – Ryan Searle (P)

Searle has been a mainstay for the Bandits since the new ABL came into existence in 2010/11. The Brisbane native threw 55 complete innings as a starter for the Bandits last season. Searle led the Bandits in strikeouts, and proved his durability on the mound, throwing three complete games from his eight starts.

Adelaide Bite Head Coach Brooke Knight said of the Bite’s chances in Brisbane, “We always go away looking to pick up three out of four on the road, and this series is no exception. We got behind the eight ball early last season and were forced to play catch-up baseball, and in a competitive league such as this, we struggled from that position. We’ve had a fantastic pre-season by all accounts, and are confident of success heading up to Brisbane. “

Game one of the 2014 ABL opening series takes place tonight, Thursday 30th of October, at 7pm ACST before continuing at 7pm ACST on Friday the 31st, and Saturday the 1st of Novemeber, with the series concluding on Sunday at 1.30pm ACST.

Bite squad vs Bandits – Gale, Brice, Miller, Dixon, Lyon, Feldtman, Moon, Maddox, Roeger, Dening, Lodge, Adamson, Stem, Lee, Scott, Brunnemann, Williams, Tols, Coombs, Hooper, Fidge and Mathis

Are Perth the team to beat in the new ABL season?

Former Twin Luke Hughes spearheads the formidable Heat

Former Twin Luke Hughes spearheads the formidable Heat

Perth Heat

2013/14 record: 32-14 (first place, won Claxton Shield)

Manager: Steve Fish (third season)

Roster

Perth, who have won three of the league’s four Claxton Shield premierships since the ABL’s inaugural season in 2010/11, return the core of their dynasty once more for 2014/15 and remain the team to beat this season.

Perth can't go wong with the return of Joey at SS

Perth can’t go Wong with the return of Joey at SS

Led by the Kennelly brothers, along with reliable veteran Allan de San Miguel and former Major Leaguer Luke Hughes, the Heat have a solid core of Australian baseball veterans. Starting pitcher Daniel Schmidt, with an ABL-best 25 win in his career, serves as the heart of Perth’s powerful pitching staff.

With valuable additions from talented imports in seasons past, the Heat hope 2014/15 will be no different. Colorado Rockies Minor League shortstop Joey Wong won the ABL’s Gold Glove award last season and returns to help lead the Heat’s sparkling defence. Starting pitcher Brian Baker, who saw action in the ABL Championship Series last season, joins Schmidt as part of Perth’s rotation.

One young star who will be missing is former Padre Corey Adamson who has gone over to his other love – AFL.

The Heat begin their quest to defend their title on Friday, 31 October at 7:20pm AWST against the Blue Sox at Barbagallo Ballpark.

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ABL.tv announces streaming details

New YouTube channel launched; iiNet to stream 60 games

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TheABL.com.au

With first pitch just hours away, the Australian Baseball League is revolutionizing the way fans across Australia and around the globe will witness baseball Down Under. The ABL is proud to announce the launch of an all new ABL.tv, the league’s flagship YouTube channel and web streaming platform, and to once again welcome iiNet on board as a streaming partner for select games in the 2014/15 season.

ABL.tv will revolutionise the way Australian Baseball League fans access games. In addition to live streams of dozens of games throughout the season, the ABL’s YouTube channel will featured archived versions of every game played throughout the fixture as well as highlights, features, and more. For the first time, ABL fans will have full YouTube access to multimedia content updated regularly and organised by team, bringing them closer to the action than ever before.

Additionally, ABL games will be easily accessible from mobile devices, Apple TV, and other internet-connected consoles. Wherever YouTube is available, ABL.tv is, too. It won’t just be regular season contests on ABL.tv, either. The league’s YouTube home will carry the 2014 Australian Baseball League All-Star Game on 17 December as well as the 2015 ABL Preliminary Final and Championship Series in January and February.

Beyond just ABL.tv, iiNet, Australia’s second-largest internet service provider, is set to partner with the ABL for weekday games throughout the 2014/15 season. Close to 70 games will be streamed on iiNet ahead of weekend showdowns to be carried live on ABL.tv.

TheABL.com.au is supporters’ home for the league’s round-by-round viewing schedule, and fans can also look for stream information on the ABL’s social media outlets on Facebook and Twitter. Stream links will be provided before and during games, and archived versions of each broadcast will be linked once games are completed.

· 2014/15 ABL streaming calendar

· Visit ABL.tv on YouTube

It’s time for the Blue Sox to perform in the post season

German Markus Solbach returns to the ABL with the Blue Sox this time

German Markus Solbach returns to the ABL – with the Blue Sox this time

Sydney Blue Sox

2013/14 record: 23-23 (second place, lost to Cavalry in ABL Preliminary Final)

Manager: Jason Pospishil (third season)

Roster

Perennially one of the league’s most talented teams by Opening Day, Sydney are still seeking their first trip to the ABL Championship Series despite earning playoff trips in all four years of league play. Manager Jason Pospishil hopes a potent lineup and experienced pitching will be the key to a Claxton Shield campaign.

The Blue Sox will lean on a veteran starting pitching corps comprised of left-hander Craig Anderson and righties Vaughan Harris and Aaron Sookee.

Luke Wilkins pitched in 21 games and posted a 3-0 record and sparkling 0.28 ERA.

Luke Wilkins pitched in 21 games and posted a 3-0 record and sparkling 0.28 ERA.

Sydney’s bullpen was terrific a season ago as right-hander Luke Wilkins pitched in 21 games and posted a 3-0 record and sparkling 0.28 ERA. Legendary closer Dae-Sung Koo converted 11 of his 12 save opportunities.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, and Minnesota Twins will be sending prospects to Sydney. Diamondbacks prospect Markus Solbach, who was the ABL’s first German player when he suited up for Melbourne in 2011/12, is back for another season Down Under.

Fans can catch the Blue Sox at home on Thursday, 13 November at 7:30pm AEDT against the Cavalry in the second round of the 2014/15 Hume Highway Cup.

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Beatty Returns to the Bandits

(Photo courtesy of Joe Vella / SMP Images / ABL)

(Photo courtesy of Joe Vella / SMP Images / ABL)

By Pat Ryan / TheABL.com.au

As players begin to make their way to Brisbane to join the Bandits and begin their first ever experience in the Australian Baseball League, anticipation is high to meet the new faces of this year’s team. But the new faces are not the only ones making their way to AFA stadium. CJ Beatty, an outfielder and infielder in the Chicago White Sox organisation, is coming back to the Bandits to make another push towards a Grand Final.

Beatty, a product of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, was drafted in the 26th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent two years with the Cardinals, playing for three different minor league teams.

He amassed ten homeruns during his time in minor league baseball before moving to the North American League. While playing independent league baseball, Beatty played for the San Angelo Colts, Edinburg Roadrunners, San Angelo Colts and the Fort Worth Cats from 2011 to 2012.

During the 2012 season, Beatty moved to Brisbane and joined the Bandits. While in Brisbane, he played twenty-seven games with the team, recording six homeruns on his way to a .253 season average. He now makes his way back to Brisbane to a place he considers a home.

“I am excited to play for the Bandits again. It’s like playing with my brothers. I really wanted to come back to help give the city a championship season,” said Beatty.

As Beatty makes his return, it is not as an independent baseball player like the past. This past August, he was signed by the Chicago White Sox and assigned to the High-A Winston Salem Dash of the Carolina League. During his season back in the minor leagues, Beatty played in thirteen games, gathering ten hits, including one homerun.

Now with his return back to the Bandits, Beatty hopes to contribute as he did in the past and help the Bandits bring home their first Claxton Shield. He will return to Brisbane this weekend to join his teammates and begin training for opening day.

Can the Adelaide Bite break their 34-year Claxton Shield drought ?

Mitch Dening brings some well needed power to the Bite

Mitch Dening brings some well needed power to the Bite

Adelaide Bite

2013/14 record: 21-25 (fifth place)

Manager: Brooke Knight (first full season; took over midway through 2013/14)

Roster

The Bite got off to a poor start last season partly due to an unfortunate choice of the inexperienced Charlie Aliano as Manager who, it seems, quickly alienated his players and consequently impacted their on-field performances.   The Bite front office soon realised their error and sacked their manager and recruited the more experienced Brooke Knight who returns for his first full season at Adelaide.   After finishing in fifth place each of the last two ABL seasons, the Bite look to break their 34-year Claxton Shield drought with Knight at the helm. They return a core group of veterans and welcome a host of talented imports in search of their first ABL Postseason berth since 2012.

Ben Lodge is one of the young stars

Ben Lodge is one of the young stars

Former Sydney Blue Sox outfielder and Team Australia mainstay and potential crowd favourite Mitch Dening will play for the Bite this season along with Stefan Welch, a Boston Red Sox prospect fresh off an impressive season in Double-A, and returning veterans pitcher Darren Fidge and outfielder Tom Brice.

Former ABL Rookie of the Year Ben Lodge and MLB Australian Academy Program alumnus Corey Lyon anchor the Bite’s young group. They’ll help to assimilate MLB imports like San Diego Padres minor league catcher Rocky Gale and Los Angeles Dodgers prospects Kyle Hooper and Craig Stem on the mound and Aaron Miller and Brandon Dixon at the plate.

The Bite are scheduled to open the 2014/15 season at home on Thursday, 13 November when they host the defending champion Perth Heat at 7:00pm ACDT.

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