Cakebread, Cresswell, Lee Return
By Michael Tozer/ Adelaide Bite
The Adelaide Bite has secured the services of regulars Jeremy Cresswell, Josh Cakebread and Wilson Lee for the 2014/15 ABL season.
The trio have been regular contributors to the Adelaide Bite outfit since the re-conception of the ABL in 2010 and are expected to once again become major players in the Bite’s push for it’s first Claxton Shield.
“We’re pleased to have these guys with us for another season,they play an important role within the team and I expect them to step up to the challenge agian this year”, said Adelaide Bite coach Brooke Knight.
Wilson Lee had his best ABL season in 2013/14 ending up with and ERA of 2.16 while holding and excellent strikeout to walk ratio of 22-7 and restricting batters to an average of .222.
Adelaide-born hitters Jeremy Cresswell and Josh Cakebread played an important role at the plate last season, racking up 29 runs and 53 hits between them in 2013/14.
Knight says that the trio are a hidden danger this season.
“They aren’t big name players, but they play like it. They tend to slip under the radar and make some match winning plays” said Knight.
“The key to winning the shield could lie in this trio.”
Cresswell played alongside former Bite pitcher Mark Brackman for the Gateway Grizzlies while Cakebread spent time at the Rosswell Invaders, with their time abroad helping consolidate their place amongst SA’s best baseballers.
Mr Theo Vassalakis, Commssioner of Baseball in the ACT, and Glenn Bain, Chairman of the Cavalry Board have announced that they have secured the services of Donn McMichael to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Baseball Canberra, home of the Cavalry.
Donn brings an extraordinary level of management experience and an immense capacity for strong strategic direction to this role. ‘With Donn on board, building on the solid foundation established by Thom Carter and the Board, the Cavalry will be well placed to position ourselves comfortably amongst the first tier of Canberra’s national level sporting bodies’ said Glenn Bain.
Donn brings to the job a wealth of executive experience at the Board level of a national company; as well as, the local knowledge of having owned and run a number of businesses in Canberra across a range of sectors. His most recent work with Camp Quality and Noah’s Ark has provided a valuable insight into the tough reality of the corporate partnership world in Canberra. These roles have shaped his thinking around offering a high-value proposition to corporate partners and to members.
Donn also brings an immense knowledge of baseball, as a ‘recently retired’ player and former administrator in the local league. He has a keen sense of what baseball is all about for players and fans alike.
There would be those who would say that it was only a matter of time before lefty Travis McDonald was signed to a pro contract. He has been in the sights of the scouts since his first appearance at the MLBAAP academy as a 16yr old. He’s tall and throws from the left and has a good variety of pitches. As one prominent scout in Australia once said “if they are left handed and they have a pulse then we are interested in them” so it stands to reason that he was heavily scouted.Despite generating considerable interest from MLB clubs as a junior with NSW and as a member of the Australian Team that won a silver medal in 2010 Travis went the college route playing in 2010 & 2011 for Central Arizona [Josh Spence's old school] before signing on with the University of Arkansas Little Rock where he was used principally as a starting pitcher and where he graduated this year majoring in Criminal Justice.
Reds scout, former ABL star Matt Everingham, had been scouting Travis throughout his junior and college years and following his good performances at the U25’s in Cairns last week finally got Travis to put pen to paper. He will commence his pro career at spring training in 2015.
Local Favourites Return for Bite
By Michael Tozer/ Adelaide Bite
Adelaide Bite has retained veterans Darren Fidge and Tom Brice for the 2014-15 ABL season.
With 39 years playing top-level baseball between them, Fidge and Brice boast a wealth of knowledge and experience to maintain a competitive edge.
“When you’ve been in the game for as long as they have, you can be sure that they will be able to handle whatever is thrown their way”, said Adelaide Bite coach Brooke Knight.
“Whatever they experience on-field, they’ve most likely been through it before.”
Fidge, who will turn 40 a day before the Bite’s first home series, will play his 21st season in professional baseball this year; an illustrious career which includes appearances for Australia, Minnesota Twins, London Werewolves (Ontario, Canada) and Catskill Cougars (New York). At just 17 years of age when he became the 10th Australian to sign with a Major League club, Fidge has since become a local baseball legend.
2002 White Sox draftee and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Tom Brice boasts an equally impressive CV which includes beginning his time on the Australian national team in 2004, featuring in the Olympics, two World Cups and the Intercontinental Cup, the Taiwanese Professional Baseball League, Japanese Shikoku Island League, Dutch Major League and college baseball for Faulkner Community College in Alabama. Brice remains one of the most feared hitters in the ABL.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Fidgey and Brice with us again. Not only are they fantastic players but the mentoring role they play with the younger guys is invaluable”, said Knight.
“When they speak, everyone listens.”
The veteran duo is expected to once again prove their value to the team as some of South Australia’s best baseballers.
Bandits establish a home for baseball fans past, present, and future
By Bandits Front Office / TheABL.com.au
BRISBANE: Brisbane Bandits Professional Baseball has a new home. Brothers Grange Community Sports Club in The Grange will undergo a transformation in the coming weeks and become “Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club” in advance of the 2014/15 Australian Baseball League Season.
In a landmark collaboration with the Brothers NRL Bid Team, the new Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club (or Triple-B) will become the nation’s foremost capital and clubhouse for baseball fans.
The Bandits are proud to take residency in a venue which already possesses a rich heritage in Queensland sport. Formerly the home of Brothers Rugby League and Crushers Leagues Club, and now supporting the Brothers NRL Bid Team, the clubhouse will embrace year-round support and promotion of Rugby League and Baseball, “brothers in arms”.
The union will “add to the proud legacy of Brothers”, according to Chris Condon, owner of the Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club. “Rugby League and baseball complement each other on so many levels already – strong traditions, a similar passionate fanbase, and complementary seasons. All of this creates natural partnership opportunities which we’re able to elevate through the joint Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club”.
Mark Ready, Chief Executive Officer of the Brisbane Bandits, also “relishes the chance to assist with the 2018 NRL Bid” that is currently spearheaded by Justin Barlow of Brothers NRL. “The Brisbane Bandits and Australian Baseball League are an impressive, professional organisation on every level”, said Barlow. “To have the opportunity to share resources and strategies that are effectively driven by the Major Leagues in the U.S. is such a great opportunity for the Brothers NRL Bid. It provides us with another unique opportunity to engage with a new fanbase in a collaborative and supportive way”.
Uniting the two codes under one roof will also provide opportunities for impacting the local community. The clubs and sports surrounding Brisbane’s Inner North can expect enhanced investment in grassroots sports through collaboration with Brisbane Inner North Sporting Community (BINSC).
The Bandits moved to Holloway Field in Newmarket prior to the 2013/14 ABL Season. “Holloway Field is quickly becoming one of Australia’s apex stadiums and baseball fans will now have a place to call their own just a short distance from the Bandits home grounds” said Ready. Ballfans will be able to enjoy a range of benefits and access to Major League Baseball and the 2014/15 Bandits home and away games on-demand.
In addition to three bars, a full-service restaurant, TAB and pokies, and function space for 200+ guests, Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club will also feature a Brothers NRL & Bandits merchandise shop and be the home of the Bandits Front Office.
Dodger Duo Join Bite
By Sam Finn / Adelaide Bite
The Adelaide Bite has announced the following import players signed from the Los Angeles Dodgers organisation;
Kyle Hooper (P)
Craig Stem (P)
Hooper, a California native represented the Great Lakes Loons in the Class A Midwest League during season 2014, and played alongside Bite alumni James Campbell. Hooper put in consistently strong performances for the Loons in 2014, finishing with an ERA of 3.07 and a record of 1-0. Hooper threw 41 innings from the bullpen, claiming 54 strikeouts and one save during his time on the mound.
Craig Stem was drafted in the 15th round of the 2011 draft, and played for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the Class A Advanced League during 2014. Stem struggled in AA ball at the beginning of 2014, however recaptured some good form in the latter half of the season, with an ERA of 3.82 with the Quakes coming out of the bullpen.
“Stem and Hooper will add depth to our bullpen, something which we sorely lacked last season. Both guys bring plenty of positives to the squad, and will spend plenty of important time on the mound for us during the upcoming season. “
The 2014 MLB season is drawing to a close with just four teams left duelling it out for a spot in the World Series.
So it’s a good time to reflect on the fortunes of Aussie players this season.
Only two Aussie players played Major League Baseball in 2014, both as pitchers.
After an impressive 2013 with the Oakland Athletics a lot was expected of him this year with his new team the Tampa Bay Rays. Balfour’s performance turned out to be a bit underwhelming though and it didn’t take long for the Rays manager to remove him from the closer role that was his at the start of the year.
He did carry on pitching as a reliever but the struggles continued. He seemed to get into his groove again in the last few games of the season and will hopefully get back to top form next year.
Played three for the Toronto Blue Jays and six for the Kansas City Royals, ending the season with an ERA of 5.23 for those nine games.
Hendriks started the season with the Toronto Blue Jays organisation in AAA league, he dominated there and was called up to the big leagues in May. He only started three games, two went well but the third game he gave up six earned runs in less than two innings. He was sent back down to AAA after that.
In July he was traded to the Kansas City Royals. He played in five games for them and was solid enough without being spectacular. His Royals team is one of the four sides left fighting for a spot in the World Series, and although Hendriks is not on the 25-man post-season roster he could get called up if injury hits one of the pitchers.
There are a few other Australian players out there who have gained MLB experience in recent years but could not get into a MLB team this year, too.
Josh Spence – pitcher
Last played for a Major League club in 2012 but has been playing AAA baseball since then. He started the season with the Miami Marlins oganisation and despite good performances for their AAA team he was released in May and now plays in an independent baseball league league in Texas.
Travis Blackley – pitcher
Played in almost 50 games last year for the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers but is now playing in Japan.
Peter Moylan – pitcher
Pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year but has has been out for the whole of 2014 after having elbow surgery.
Ryan Rowland-Smith – pitcher
Appeared in 6 games for the Arizona D’Backs before opting for free agency.
It is not exactly a golden era for Australian baseball players in the Major Leagues with only Grant Balfour getting regular playing time this year. With the Australian Baseball League growing stronger and a number of Australians in the Minor Leagues there is hope that the next generation of players will begin to make an impact at the highest level.
Over $20 million in professional signings with international baseball clubs excites recognition for innovation and success from Export Council of Australia
At the finalist announcement in Sydney on Wednesday, the Export Council of Australia explained that applicants were nominated from across a range of industry specific categories via a panel of judges, and that deciding on this year’s line up was no easy task.
Baseball Australia and the Major League Baseball Australian Academy have been recognised for the unique innovative success in providing export opportunities for homegrown baseball talent to play at the highest levels abroad.
These opportunities have provided over 150 young Australian ball players professional contracts with international clubs, which equates to over $20.6 million in signing bonus alone financial success.
The Council explained further at the announcement that International Trade is vital for growth and prosperity across New South Wales and it’s inspiring to learn about everyday people that push the boundaries in terms of innovation and resilience to succeed in this field.
Baseball Australia CEO, Brett Pickett, said that is it pleasing to see Baseball Australia’s recognition and alignment with other organisations in this field of international success and economic contribution.
“Baseball truly is a global sport and we work very hard to ensure that our pathways and international partnerships provide our athletes the best opportunity for success not only in Australia but around the World,” Mr Pickett said.
Baseball Australia is up against four other finalists in the diverse category of Innovation in Export: Flavourtech (process technology), Gammasonics Institute for Medical Research, Peloris Global Sourcing, and Proudex Australia (natural health supplements). The award will be announced on 23 October at Doltone House, Sydney.
By David Polkinghorne/Sports Reporter At The Canberra Times
Canberra Cavalry operations manager Tom Vincent says it will have one of the best starting pitcher rotations in the Australian Baseball League this season after bringing Tim Atherton back to his spiritual home.
Vincent has almost finished assembling his roster for the upcoming season and has predicted the Cavs will be a very good team.
Along with Atherton, Brian Grening will return for his fourth ABL season, bringing left-hand hurler Jake Brown with him, while Tristan Crawford fills out the starting rotation.
The Cavs have also signed Detroit Tigers AAA shortstop Marcus Lemon, who is touted as rivalling former Cavalryman and current Major Leaguer Didi Gregorius’ ability on defence.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford, who was also an American football prospect, will also come Down Under, along with Phildelphia Phillies fielder Mitch Walding.
Atherton, who the Oakland As elevated to AAA this season, returns to the club that made him.
Former Cavalry manager and World Series winning pitcher Steve Schrenk converted Atherton from an outfielder into a pitcher on the rise.
But he was poached by arch-rival Sydney Blue Sox following his signing with the Minnesota Twins.
He led the Australian national team to a 5-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at the SCG in March.
Now, thanks to his girlfriend getting a job in Canberra, he’s back with the Cavs.
“I think we’re going to be a strong club, working around the rules and regulations that they’ve put in place, but I’ll put it to the sword now that we’ll be a very good team,” Vincent said.
“If you can find a better four [starting pitchers] than that in the league I’d be keen to see it.”
The only bad news for the Cavs is closing pitcher Sean Toler won’t be returning for his third season, although Vincent said the door would always be open if Toler changed his mind.
Infielder Jeremy Barnes will also return to Canberra, although not in a playing capacity.
The Asia Series and ABL championship winner has accepted the role of player pathway and coach development manager with the Cavs and will be in charge of bringing through the next generation of Cavalry stars.
“His job is to be a high-performance manager, while also developing coaches, and he overseas not only our top-tier Canberra Cavalry program to develop more high-end talent, but he’ll also be overseeing the pathway to bring kids in from grass roots,” Vincent said.
“We need more Robbie Perkins out there, we need more [Steve Kents], we’ve had a dry spell for many years and we’ve brought Barnesy in.”
The Cavalry season starts, against the Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark on November 6.
By Dave Hueston/ japantimes.co.jp
INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA – International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach [pictured] is all in favor of bringing back men’s baseball and women’s softball as part of his 2020 Olympic agenda. He’s just not ready to say so, quite yet.
Asked whether he wants to see the return of the sports, which were both dropped from the Olympic program after the 2008 Beijing Olympics under his predecessor Jacques Rogge but have launched a joint bid under one confederation, Bach was cagey but clearly on board for the shake-up.
Baseball and softball were left off the program at the 2012 London Games and will not be contested at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“It is too early now, we have to discuss the procedures of the program first, how we can make the composition of the program more flexible, and afterwards we can discuss about individual sports and disciplines, Bach told reporters Saturday after making a speech at the Olympic Council of Asia’s general assembly in Incheon.
“First, we have to win the vote in December (in Monte Carlo),”
Asked if he himself is in favor of their reinstatement for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Bach quipped, “I think I just answered this.”
The IOC voted on wrestling’s reinstatement for 2020 Olympics last September at the general assembly in Buenos Aires after the sport was axed from the program seven months earlier in what many IOC members believed to be an epic mistake.
The baseball-softball bid was also part of the vote for reinstatement and, in fact, had been lobbying for a return much longer. But the sports’ joint bid didn’t stand a chance against wrestling, which has been the bread-and-butter of the movement since the ancient Olympics in Greece.
One of the main proponents of wrestling’s reinstatement was Olympic Council of Asia president Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the influential Kuwaiti sheik, who also heads the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Al-Sabah is widely believed to be the “kingmaker” behind Bach’s successful election to IOC president last September; he also appears ready to support Bach in his every move for his 2020 Olympic Agenda.
“We are in the best environment to discuss these issues,” said Al-Sabah at the OCA general assembly, referring to the reforms Bach would like to institute.
“We are in the best environment to discuss these issues,” said Al-Sabah during comments at the OCA general assembly, referring to the reforms Bach would like to institute, particularly pertaining to the flexibility of the Olympic program.
Still, the whole process has sparked controversy.
The original intent of dropping wrestling was to introduce a new sport to the program and a return by baseball-softball would mean obscure sports such as squash, karate, wakeboarding, sport climbing or roller sports will have even less of a chance.
But it is not only about Tokyo 2020. Bach, who also attended the opening ceremony the previous night at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, is throwing his weight behind the Olympic movement throughout Asia.
“Asia is playing a very important role in sport and its importance is even growing,” he told reporters. “We finalized the Youth Olympic Games in Nanking a couple of days ago; now we are here for this great Asian Games; then 2018 there will be the (Pyoengchang) Olympic Winter Games in Asia; then in 2020 the Games of the Olympiad Tokyo in Asia; and in ’22 we have two very strong candidates coming. You see that Asia is really a top priority for the IOC.”
Japan’s women won the gold medal when it beat the United States in final edition of softball in Beijing.
Since Nippon Professional Baseball players began playing at the 2000 Sydney Games, Japan has won just one bronze medal in baseball (in 2004). Japan has a total of two bronzes and one silver from five official Olympic tournaments.