Baseball Australia has announced the roster for the 21U national men’s team that will represent Australia at the first ever 21U Baseball World Cup. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) event will take place from 7 to 16 November in Taiwan, Taichung, with eleven (11) nations competing.
Australia’s twenty four (24) man roster features seventeen (17) players who are currently under professional contract with Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs, including 2012 Youth Player of the Year Zac Shepherd (Detroit Tigers), and the youngest of the talented WA Kennelly family Sam (Pittsburg Pirates).
Although named a 21U event, the rules allow teams to carry six (6) players aged twenty-three (23) and under on the rosters, but can only have a maximum of three (3) in the line-up at the same time.
Australia has taken advantage of this rule by bringing in five (5) older pitchers; Aaron Sookee, Wilson Lee, Travis McDonald, Sam Street, Todd Van Steensel, and infielder Ben Lodge, to stabilise the young club.
Manager Tony Harris said this is an exciting ball club that has come together for this new event:
“These ball players are young but we have a depth of pro ball guys that will help to build our game around pitching and defense. Our best players have made themselves available and as a team we have the opportunity to position ourselves well and be competitive at this event” said Manager Harris.
The stakes are somewhat higher for Australia, currently ranked fifteen (15) in the World, as this is the final competition to determine the twelve (12) qualifying teams for the “Premier 12″ flagship pro-player international event to be launched in 2015. Only seventy-two (72) points separate No. 11 Italy from No. 15 Australia, and with 100 points awarded to the 21U champion, teams will be looking for top performances to secure their “Premier 12” position.
The team will go into camp in Sydney on Saturday 1 November before flying out for Taichung on 5 November. Australia opens up their round-robin play against World ranked number two (2) Japan on Friday 7 November at 12:30pm (local time), 2:30pm AEST.
Australia (No. 15)
Chinese Taipei (No. 4)
Czech Republic (No. 26)
Italy (No. 11)
Japan (No. 2)
Mexico (No. 13)
Netherlands (No. 5)
Nicaragua (No. 28)
New Zealand (No. 25)
South Korea (No. 8)
NZ Baseball Federation will host the Oceania 18U Oceania Championship in Auckland, January 2015 with the winner competing at the IBAF 18U World Cup in 2015.
Team nominations will determine the dates of the tournament which tentatively will be Jan 23 to 31, 2015
Feldtman & Vocca Join Roster
By Sam Finn / Adelaide Bite
The Adelaide Bite have announced the signing of the following independent import players;
Colin Feldtman (P)
Tony Vocca (P)
Colin Feldtman has represented the University of Portland for the past 4 years, and Brooke Knight’s summer collegiate team, the Corvallis Knights. Feldtman has conceded only three home runs from 60.2 innings pitched for the Univerisity of Portland this season. He has struck out 36 and has recorded a save.
Tony Vocca represented the University of Minnesota. In 2013, Vocca had a .318 batting average with two doubles, two runs and five RBIs. Vocca made seven relief appearances on the mound, pitching 7.1 innings with seven strikeouts.
Feldtman and Vocca will represent Sturt and Port Adelaide respectively in the local league. Both men hold ambitions to return to MLB affiliated clubs, and with the success of Bite alumni John Holdzkom picthing in the MLB for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the pathways are certainly there for the independent players.
By Michael Tozer/ Adelaide Bite
The Adelaide Bite have announced the signing of an independent import player;
Craig Maddox (1B/C)
Maddox, a Georgia native has represented the Gary SouthShore RailCats in the American League since 2011, and has proven his versatility, playing everywhere from behind the plate, to first and third base, but has cemented his spot behind the plate in 2014, with 48 appearances catching for the RailCats.
Maddox averaged .258 during 2014, and picked up 40 RBIs and 73 hits in the process. Maddox helped lead the Southeastern University Fire to consecutive NCCAA National Championships in his final two seasons and was named NCCAA Player of the Year in 2007. In 2007, Maddox was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Tigers, before being picked up once again in 2009 by the Atlanta Braves.
“Craig brings a lot of experience and flexibility to the Bite this season”, coach Brooke Knight said.
“He’s very familiar with both in the major league system and the independent system, and will be a useful guy to have on board.”
The Adelaide Bite’s season will commence on 30 October 2014 with an away series at Brisbane before they take on reigning premiers, Perth Heat at home from 13 November 2014.
By Pat Ryan / TheABL
BRISBANE: The beginning of each baseball season brings new players, new fans, and this year, new facility updates to historic AFA Stadium at Holloway Field. The home grounds for Brisbane Bandits Professional Baseball, presented by WellDog, have undergone many improvements over the past few months to make both playing on the field and watching from the stands more enjoyable.
Bandits CEO, Mark Ready, has worked closely with Australian governing bodies to get many of the projects to the field finished. The biggest and brightest of which, are the brand new lighting fixtures surrounding the field.
“With the support of both the Brisbane City Council and the Queensland State Government, the first stage of the lighting project has been completed,” said Ready.
This project is meant to fix the obstructed view many fans faced last season.
“The old eighteen meter poles have been replaced with new thirty meter poles. The new poles have now been located behind the stadium as to not impede the view,” said Ready.
In addition, these new light fixtures will let Holloway Field shine in a way it hasn’t before.
“These lights will deliver twice the lux available before adding to an improved viewing spectacle for the fans and improved safety and enhanced skill levels for the players,” said Ready.
The four light fixtures surrounding the infield and home plate area of the field are the first of eight total lighting renovations set to take place. The four light towers surrounding the outfield wall will be removed and updated next year.
Accenting that outfield wall are two regulation MLB foul poles. Acquired from the MLB Opening Series held in Sydney in March, the foul poles are the same ones used during the three game series between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
“We have also installed the foul poles obtained from the opening series in Sydney through a deal orchestrated by Windsor Royals Head Coach Adrian Lamb and the owner of Gabba Sporting Products, Mitch Gaskell,” said Ready.
These poles are now proudly displayed at Holloway Field and will be for many seasons to come.
“These big league, historic foul poles are now a permanent part of the Holloway Field infrastructure and will add to the big league feel and appeal of the Bandits home ground,” said Ready.
With the additions of the new lights and fouls poles, the overall fan experience will be enhanced greatly from the season a year ago. But these improvements are just two of many more projects going on at Holloway Field to improve the viewing pleasure for fans in the grandstands.
“The front row railings have also been lowered by thirty centimeters to remove the visual impediment experienced last year,” said Ready.
The grandstands aren’t the only way to enjoy the game this year either. The Corral seating area, located on the third base line, is receiving a makeover that will expand the group sizes and make for a more enjoyable ballpark experience.
“The ‘Corral Party Zone’ is under going a transformation this year as well and will be a self-contained group entertainment area from anywhere from single game ticket purchases, to groups of one hundred. Your ticket into this area will include all-you-can-eat ballpark hot dogs and burgers. It will also have its own bar facilities and toilet facilities,” said Ready.
With this project still ongoing and the season less than six weeks away, Ready assures that these projects will be finished before the season gets underway.
“With other things like permanent fencing, concrete concourse expansion, scoreboard relocation and bullpen transformations, it’s a tight schedule, but we are on time to deliver before the season launch,” said Ready.
And the current projects aren’t the only renovations in Ready’s master vision of facility upgrades. He has plans to continue improvements over time.
“This year has another three hundred thousand dollars worth of investments so far, with still more in the pipeline,” said Ready.
And this money will go towards upgrades that will make a huge impact for baseball in Newmarket.
“Along with the new licensed Brisbane Bandits Brothers Sports Club at 41 Agincourt Street in Grange, there are many more exciting upgrades coming to Holloway over the next twelve moths. With an amenities upgrade, indoor training facility, new expanded dugouts, new locker room complex, one thousand new seats and exciting and tantalizing food options, our aim is to make AFA Stadium at Holloway Field the premier boutique Baseball facility in the country,” said Ready.
These updates will enhance the Holloway Field experience for both the players and the fans. Baseball continues to grow in Queensland and these updates will help assure that fans have the opportunity to enjoy a night out at a Bandits game.
Fans will have the opportunity to see all of the field’s updates up close and personal at Fan Fest on 11th October and at the Bandits first ever pre-season game on 15th October at 6:30.
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.