Canberra Cavalry Hopes To Attract Australia’s Next Top Talent
By David Polkinghorne/Canberra Times
Team USA no more, Canberra Cavalry chief executive Thom Carter says having the best ballpark, best coach and best fans will help lure top Australian talent to the nation’s capital after the Australian Baseball League confirmed it will hold an inaugural Australian draft next month.
Carter had mixed emotions as he worked on his final piece of business before returning to the US on Thursday on compassionate leave to be closer to his mother Susan, who is battling breast cancer – deciding which Cavalry players would be protected from the draft by signing them.
It’s believed pitcher Steve Kent and catcher Robbie Perkins will be part of the Cavs’ protected list, with Hayden Beard another obvious choice provided he can overcome his nagging shoulder problems.
The Canberra Times revealed last month the ABL was planning to introduce an Aussie draft, which will take place on August 14.
Canberra will have six of the first 11 picks because it has the smallest player base to draw on and Carter said it was a step forward for the league.
The six ABL teams have until close of business on Friday to protect, or sign, players, who must then be picked on every roster for the upcoming season.
Traditionally, the Cavs have relied heavily on US imports, which led Perth Heat players to start calling them Team USA.
”We believe Canberra is the best place to play baseball in this country – it’s a great ballpark, great fans, best coach,” Carter said.
”When people see that they have an opportunity to play in a winning program with a winning coach in front of good crowds then they’re going to put their hand up and say, ‘Here’s a good opportunity for me’.”
Carter hoped it wouldn’t be just fringe players signing up for the draft, but also established players who were looking for more opportunity.
He had a conference call with returning manager Michael Collins and baseball operations manager Tom Vincent on Wednesday to begin work on their protected players.
Carter said signing players built excitement for the upcoming season, which made him sad to leave.
”We’re hopeful that players will see this is a good opportunity for them and it’s not just guys who are 30th man on the roster [who nominate], it’s guys that are sixth man on the roster or play two games a weekend instead of four, or maybe they’re sick of being on a losing squad, are interested in coming to Canberra and playing,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates have called former Cavalry cult pitcher John Holdzkom up to triple-A class – just one level below Major League Baseball.
Holdzkom was part of the Cavalry’s Claxton Shield-winning season in 2012-13.
ABL AUSSIE DRAFT ORDER: Round 1 Canberra Cavalry, round 2 Canberra Cavalry, Adelaide Bite, round 3 Canberra Cavalry, Adelaide Bite, round 4 Canberra Cavalry, Adelaide Bite, round 5 Canberra Cavalry, Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, round 6 (and order for any and all subsequent rounds) Canberra Cavalry, Adelaide Bite, Brisbane Bandits, Melbourne Aces, Sydney Blue Sox, Perth Heat.