Texas Rangers sign Sydney teenage pitcher

Brad Simon

Brad Simon signing his Texas contract this week

The Texas Rangers signed another Australian this week when they inked in a contract with NSW pitcher Brad Simon.

Brad who had an outstanding tournament in the 2013 U16 National titles [he was 2nd to Lachlan Wells in Ks with 16] was also a  member of the 2014 MLB Academy on the Gold Coast and represented NSW in this years’ U18 National Championships. His performances led to him gaining selection in the U18 Australian team that competed in the World Cup Oceania Qualifier in Auckland last January collecting a win against Guam.

Australia’s success in Auckland qualified them to compete in the 2015 WBSC U18 Baseball World Cup, which will be staged from 28 August – 06 September in Osaka, Japan.

Brad will join the Rangers in Spring Training once his visa is processed

Rays Minor League Report: Checking In On Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour Hoping To Return To MLB

balf.sp_386589_vrag_22_RAYS08181_14656917_8colBy Steve Kinsella/ sportstalkflorida.com

Grant Balfour continues to pitch well for the Durham Bulls. He may not resurface with the Rays but he could find his way back to a MLB roster soon.

The last time we saw Grant Balfour in the Rays clubhouse he had just gotten the word that his time with the big league club was coming to an end as he had been designated for assignment After taking time to talk to different teammates he made his way over to the media where he gave his time to explain his emotions at the time. After listening to him it was hard not to feel the immense respect he has for not only the Rays organization but the game of baseball.
Many assumed that he would go home to Clearwater, field offers from other teams, and presumably sign elsewhere for a chance to make it back to the big leagues. It was somewhat of a surprise to hear that he had agreed to a minor league deal with the Rays and would report to the Durham Bulls. Of course, he has an opt out should he choose to use it at the end of May.

So far with the Bulls he has appeared in seven games totaling eight innings. He has allowed two earned runs striking out 11 and only walking three. Last night he worked two innings of scoreless baseball in the Bulls 8-7 loss to the Rochester Red Wings.

Complete Aussie and NZ Player List

Daniel McGrath is listed on the 7-Day DL.

Daniel McGrath is listed on the 7-Day DL. So far this season he has thrown 30 IP and owns an impressive 1.80ERA

No major changes this week except for the release of Hayden Timberlake by the Astros.  Travis Blackley is still at extended spring working out but should be moved very shortly.   A couple of players are still on the D/L including Peter Moylan, Allan de San Miguel and Daniel McGrath.

You will notice that the Ranger’s Todd McDonald is listed on their AAA team.  It seems that he is there on rehab so he can work out with Jason Roberts, the Team Australia trainer, who works for them.

Other players continue at extended spring training which will conclude next month when short season A and rookie seasons will commence.

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Players in full season teams

Majors:  Liam Hendriks (Blue Jays),

Triple-AGrant Balfour (Rays), James Beresford (Twins), Travis Blackley (Marlins), John Holdzkom (Pirates), Allan de San Miguel [Twins],

Double-ATim Atherton [A’s], Matt Kennelly (Braves), Warwick Saupold (Tigers),

High-A:,Sam Holland (Padres), Daniel McGrath [Red Sox], Todd Van Steensel [Twins], Logan Wade[Twins]

A:  Robbie Perkins [Rockies], Zac Shepherd (Tigers), Sam Street [Pirates].

Players at Extended Spring

Short Season A:   Aaron Sookee [D’Backs],

Rookie: Dean Aldridge (Tigers)Jack Barrie [Twins], Beau Bishop [Brewers], Jake Bowey [Astros], Jared Cruz (Astros), Ryan Dale (Royals), Sam Gibbons [Twins], Josh Guyer (Twins), Elliott Hargreaves [Reds], Nick Hutchings (Pirates), Sam Kennelly (Pirates), Ben Leslie [Giants], Connor MacDonald (Astros), Lachlan Madden (Astros),  Todd McDonald (Rangers), Dakota Mitchell (Reds),  Aaron Sayers [Tigers], Brad Simon (Rangers), Brandon Stenhouse (Yankees), Jake Turnbull [Reds], Aaron Whitefield (Twins), Lachlan Wells [Twins]

Peter Moylan [Braves] – Rookie League Player/Coach

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Rehab: Lewis Thorpe (Twins),

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Recently Released:

Ryan Battaglia [Indians],

John Hussey (Padres),

Travis McDonald (Reds)

James Philibossian (Tigers),

Adam Silva [Yankees],

Hayden Timberlake [Astros],

College Watch – MOST’S Juco Division 1 World Series Preview Pt 1

Here is Part 1 of MOST Sports Management’s Juco Div 1 World Series preview!!

juco

Scott Tabrett of MOST S/M says he hopes this gives everybody out there an idea as to who some of the best schools are.
There are some incredibly talented athletes, some who will be drafted and many more who are or will be transferring onto great programs. Next to some guys you will see a school in brackets, this is where they have committed. For those that don’t know you will see some amazing schools including multiple guys transferring onto #1 LSU and #3 TCU.

Scott has also “stuck my neck out” and given an overall prediction as well as to how far he thinks each team can go. Anyone think different?  Put forward your tip to Scott!

mostsportsmgmt   msm_finallogoconcepts_lr-01

Where: Sam Suplizio Field Grand Junction, Colorado

When: Commences May 23

Format: Double Elimination

Teams: 10: San Jacinto, McLennan, Walters State, Delgado/St Louis, Iowa Western, USC Sumter, NW Florida State, Dodge City, Chattahoochee, Yavapai

Defending Champion: Iowa Western

San Jacinto College (Texas)

Total World Series Appearances: 22 (last in 2012)

World Series Championships: 5 (1990)

Record: 41-19

How they got there: Won the Southern District Championship (Region 14). Qualified directly as a result.

About them: A national powerhouse year after year. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are their most famous alumni. Located near Houston, they have access to arguably one of the best recruiting basis in all of America. Out of the 22 World Series berths, they have made the final game on 13 occasions, highlighting the unbelievable talent and coaching they have at their disposal. Their roster is always loaded with guys who either draft or transfer onto D1 programs.

This year: Forget the record, San Jac play one of the toughest schedules in America. Whilst most schools schedule easy wins early in the year, San Jac played fellow World Series participant NW Floria State, as well as region 5 runner-up Odessa, fellow powerhouses Howard College, Chipola College and New Mexico Junior College. This is on top of their incredibly difficult conference schedule, which is a nightmare to get out of.

Offensively they placed 20th in the nation for batting average at .339, 29th in home runs and 17th in stolen bases. The offense is paced by Sophomore outfielder Walker Pennington (Texas A & M) who took out the Triple Crown for San Jac hitting .406 with 10hrs and 58 RBIs.

On the mound, the staff produced the nation’s 10th best ERA at 2.90. Sophomores Aaron Ford (Auburn), Riley Smith (LSU) and Alex Phillips ( Baylor) led the dominating staff.

Scott’s take: Have the talent and the coaching staff to go all the way. Played arguably the toughest schedule in America which should give them a big advantage having played so many tough games. They appear stacked on the mound and at the plate with very few weaknesses visible. Anything short of an appearance in the championship game will be a surprise.

Prediction: Should take care of business against McLennan and then the winner of Delgado/Walters State. Expect nothing short of a spot in the championship game.

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College Watch – Charlie Aznavoorian

Charlie Aznavoorian  Gold Glove Bottom right

Charlie Aznavoorian Gold Glove Bottom right

Four Falcons Make All-Conference Baseball Selections

WICHITA, Kan. – The KCAC announced their 2015 Baseball All-Conference teams on Wednesday afternoon, with Friends University having four selections and taking home two Gold Glove awards.

Matt Burke (SR/Ventura, Calif.), Brett Clark (JR/Temecula, Calif.), and Jordan Varga (SR/Port Colquitlam, British Colum) were named Second Team All-KCAC.

Burke was the designated hitter selection after leading the team with 55 hits. He was 2nd on the Falcons in batting average (.369), at bats (149), doubles (14), RBIs (32), total bases (71), and slugging (.477). Burke was #8 in the KCAC in doubles, #11 in batting average, and #16 in hits.

Clark led the Falcons with a 2.47 ERA, but lack or run support held him to a 5-6 record on the season. He struck out 66 batters in 76.2 innings of work, and opponents hit just .212 against him. Clark threw a no-hitter against McPherson on April 3rd to earn KCAC and NAIA PItcher of the Week Honors. He led the KCAC in opponent batting, was #3 in ERA, and #7 in strikeouts.

Varga finished 1st on the team in batting average at .370, was 2nd in hits (54), and 3rd in at bats (146), total bases (67), and doubles (8). He was #9 in the conference in batting average and #20 in hits.

Making the Honorable Mention team was Charlie Aznavoorian (JR/Sydney, Australia) who batted .340 and led the Falcons in runs (39), on base percentage (.455), and stolen bases (16). He also led the team in walks (20), and hit by pitch (12). Aznavoorian was #8 in the KCAC in stolen bases and on base percentage, and #16 in runs scored.

In addition to their team selections, Clark and Aznavoorian were chosen as Gold Glove recipients as well.

Aznavoorian committed just four errors in 158 chances (.975 fielding), mostly at third base, but also spending time at second and short due to injuries. He was #4 in the conference in assists per game at 2.38. The Gold Glove is the 2nd of his career, also winning one his freshman season.

Clark had just one error in 35 chances (.971) on the mound.

Click here to read the full conference release.

COLLEGE WATCH – Max Brennen

Buffs Season Comes to an End with 3-2 Loss to St. Mary’s in NCAA South Central Regional

Max Brennen

Max Brennen

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The West Texas A&M baseball season came to an end Saturday with a 3-2 loss to St. Mary’s in an elimination game in the NCAA South Central Regional at Suplizio Field. WT ended its season at 36-20, while St. Mary’s improved to 40-15.

“Gardner (Kris) did an outstanding job, he kept us off balance all day,” WT head coach Matt Vanderburg said. “We weren’t able to get the big hit, I am very proud of this group of guys and we have 13 seniors who are the heart and soul of this team and I can’t say enough about those guys.”

WT scored two runs in the third inning, but a two run home run from Derek Hamilton tied the game in the fourth inning and the Rattlers scored the winning run in the top of the eighth. WT had runners at the corners with two away in the bottom of the eighth, but were unable to bring home the tying run.

Offensively, the Buffs struggled Saturday as they had two runs on five hits, while SMU tallied three runs on eight hits. The top six in the WT order went a combined 1 for 24. Senior Max Brennen went 2 for 3 with a run scored to lead the team, while senior Ryan March was 1 for 4 with a RBI. It also marked the 26th game this season decided by one run for the Buffs as WT finished 14-12 in one run games.

WT junior Justin McAllister (2-3) went seven innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs, one walk and he fanned four. SMU pitcher Kris Gardner went the distance allowing five hits, two earned runs, walked none and fanned seven.

The Buffs used a single, the first hit of the game, in the third inning by Brennen and then senior Johnny Gaines singled through the left side for two on base. March singled home Gaines and then junior Matt Cole hit a RBI sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

In the fourth, Brooks Orton began the frame with a double to c enter. Hamilton then hit a two run blast to left for a 2-2 score.

In the top of the eighth for St. Mary’s, Scott Jones doubled to right to begin the inning as the Buffs made a call to the bullpen in favor of senior Paul Lujan. Orton then singled up the middle for a RBI and a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Brennen came up with his second single of the day with one away. Junior Mason Shiflett pinch-hit and belted a single through the left side for on. March flied out to center field wall and Brennen advanced to third on a wild pitch. A ground out ended the threat.

Max Shared On Facebook : “My college career officially came to an end today. After being at three different colleges and being apart of five college seasons, there is no group of guys that I would have wanted to spend my last one with than this years team. This team means the world to me and I will never forgot this year and what we accomplished. I’m proud of each and every one of the guys and I know the returning players will get after it next year and get to the next level. Can definitely say the past five months has been the greatest time I’ve ever had in my life. Here’s to the next chapter ” and a great  last chapter is was.

West Texas A&M

Dening close to signing with NPB’s Yakult Swallows

Contract pending a physical, according to reports

Mitch Dening Adeliade Bite

Mitch Dening Adelaide Bite

By the ABL.com.au

TOKYO, Japan – An Australian Baseball League star will soon have the chance to play in the pinnacle of Japanese baseball. The Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Central League are close to signing SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite outfielder Mitch Dening pending the results of a physical, according to sources in Tokyo.

The Swallows (18-23) currently sit in last place in the Central League, 7.5 games behind the first-place Yokohama Bay Stars. The report indicated that the team finds itself shorthanded after the recent departure of a Cuban player, who opted to pursue professional opportunities in the USA.

Dening began the 2015 season with the Niigata Albirex of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League, hitting .270 with one home run and 14 RBIs in 18 games. He posted a .321 batting average and slugged 12 home runs for Niigata last season.

A former member of the Boston Red Sox organisation, the 26-year-old played five seasons in the US minor leagues, hitting .272 collectively over five different levels. He briefly played for the Washington Wild Things of the independent Frontier League in 2012, while simultaneously suiting up for the Sydney Blue Sox when the modern ABL began in 2010.

Dening moved from the Blue Sox to the Bite for the 2014/15 season, and helped lead Adelaide to the championship series, clubbing the game-winning home run in Game 1 as the Bite went back-to-back-to-back in the bottom of the seventh inning. A longtime member of the Australian Men’s National Team, he went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in Team Australia’s comeback win in the 2015 ABL All-Star Game, presented Levi’s, and was on the field when the Aussies shocked the baseball world by shutting out the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 on the eve of the 2014 MLB Opening Series in Sydney.

COLLEGE WATCH – Australian players contribute to Conqs World Series run

Riddell and Wakefield fitting in

A Riddell, T Wakefield

A Riddell, T Wakefield

By Reggie Wilson, rwilson@kwch.com

Luke Crabb pitched a dominant complete game in the Conqs Region VI championship victory over Cowley County. Dodge City freshman Tim Wakefield played a key role in the performance. He was behind the plate at catcher.

“Not many Australians can say they’ve caught a regional championship before,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield is from Sydney, Australia. His friend and Dodge City CC starting pitcher Andrew riddell is too. And they know each other.

“Tim’s been my brother ever since I can remember, growing up playing for the same club at home,” Riddell said. ”Our families are really close I mean, we spent the majority of our lives at each other’s houses so it was kind of a big thing for us both to be here, both half way around the world.”

Their chemistry is evident.

Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield

“They say we have that Aussie connection,” Wakefield said. “We’ve always had that connection with each other, we’ve thrown together since we were sixteen.”

Riddell is thoroughly enjoying his sophomore year at the college, but one might like to know, how the whole Dodge City thing came about.

“It’s a bit of a long story, I finished high school at home and knew I wanted to keep playing baseball,” Riddell said. “Phil (Stephenson) actually got in contact with me and he was obviously someone I wanted to play for because of his pedigree.”

Riddell immediately felt at home in Dodge, and helped convince Wakefield to come a year later. That decision was rewarding in more ways than one. However he did have issues initially, adjusting to the Kansas climate.

“I didn’t like the cold here,” Wakefield said while laughing. “I wouldn’t walk out of my room if it was under thirty five degrees.”

Andrew Riddell

Andrew Riddell

After a cold fall, enduring some growing pains, the Conqs put it all together this season.

“For the past two years it’s been a long journey,” Riddell said. “Coming from Australia last fall to where we are right now it’s been a big step for this program.”

Wakefield is happy but also a little surprised at the success in his first year.

“When I came off the plane and Andrew picked me up, we didn’t expect to be practicing after the end of May working toward a JUCO world series.”

He even will have family make the trip for the occasion.

“My Dad’s flying across from Australia,” Wakefield said. “He gets in on Friday so it’ll be great to see him and have him there.”

Both Riddell and Wakefield agree, their family on the field is ready to make school history.

 

College Watch:- Eligibility Requirements for College are Changing

ncaa11By Rick Allen/perfectgame.org

www.informedathlete.com

NCAA Division I Freshman Eligibility Requirements are Changing

If you are a high school athlete or parent of a high school athlete who will graduate in 2016 and after, it’s important to know that the NCAA Division I eligibility requirements are changing.

The most important change to know, is that at least 10 of the 16 “core courses” that are required for freshman eligibility, must be completed prior to the 7th semester (Fall of Senior year) of high school enrolment.

At least 7 of those 10 courses must be from the subject areas of English, math, or natural/physical science.

It’s also very important to note that the grades on those 10 courses required prior to the 7th semester will be “locked in.” In other words, those courses can’t be repeated in the senior year in an effort to earn a higher grade for NCAA eligibility purposes.
So, if you’re a current high school junior, and you won’t have at least 10 “core courses” by the end of this spring semester, or won’t have a sufficient grade in one of those courses, what can you do to remedy your situation?

One solution is to take another core course or two this summer. You can check to see if that is possible through your current high school, or if you need to look into an online course that will be acceptable for NCAA eligibility purposes.

This can also be a good idea if you already have at least 10 core courses, but want to repeat a course to specifically improve your grade to raise your core course GPA.

The minimum acceptable GPA is another Division I standard that will change for those enrolling in Fall 2016 or after.

  • The minimum acceptable GPA on the NCAA Division I “sliding scale” for full freshman eligibility will be increasing from 2.00 (with a corresponding ACT sum score of 86 or an SAT score of 1010) to a 2.30 (with a corresponding ACT sum score of 75 or an SAT score of 900).

In case you’re wondering why the change in the minimum required GPA, even though the corresponding test score as noted above is decreasing, the reason is that the NCAA’s academic research shows that GPA is a more reliable predictor of collegiate academic success and progress toward graduation than is an ACT or SAT test score.

Athletes enrolling at a Division I university prior to Fall 2016 don’t have to worry about these changes, but they obviously need to make sure and complete their 16 “core courses” and meet the current GPA and ACT or SAT test score requirements.

Want to play in the Minors? Here’s how

tryoutsBy Danny Wild / MiLB.com

“How do I try out for a Minor League team?”

That’s a question we at MiLB.com get almost daily in emails from aspiring players around the country.

The answer, in short is — technically you can’t, but that doesn’t mean that your hopes of becoming a professional ballplayer are through.

Minor League Baseball teams don’t hold open tryouts, and the path players take to reach the Minors (and the Majors) isn’t always simple. Most players currently in the Minors or Majors were drafted or signed as free agents. Either way, they were all scouted and watched by someone along their journey to the pros.

Those who slipped through the cracks could have, until 2015, attended open tryouts hosted by the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau — Angels right-hander Dillon Ortman attended one such tryout last year and walked away with a contract, appearing in 16 Minor League games at three levels last summer. The MLB Scouting Bureau annually held tryout camps around the country open to anyone 16 and older who wanted a chance to play. Those open tryouts, according to Scouting Bureau director Bill Bavasi, will no longer be held as of this year.

The level and amount of talent showing up to camps have dwindled, as has attendance from scouts for Major League teams. Sometimes, the reality of reaching your dream to play in the Majors is a painful one.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Be realistic,’ but it’s not that easy to be realistic,” said Bavasi. “I don’t always want to be realistic. I never wanted to crush anyone’s dreams.”

Bavasi, who spent more than 10 years as the general manager of the Angels and Mariners, said he’s spoken to a countless number of young men over the years who want a chance to play professionally. Some played in school and weren’t drafted. Some have overcome injuries and just want to play baseball in general. Some are just flat-out misguided in believing they are good enough to play professionally.

The reality, Bavasi said, is that those good enough to make the cut are going to eventually be scouted and heard about. According to a 2013 study by the NCAA, only two percent of college athletes end up going pro. For high school baseball players, the study found the odds of being drafted out of high school are 200 to 1 — of roughly 475,000 high school baseball players, 0.50 percent ended up playing professionally, or about 2,375.

How it works

Every player in the Minor Leagues is an employee of a Major League organization, and they’ve all signed a contract with a Major League team and were then assigned to a Minor League affiliate’s roster. Thus, Minor League teams have no say on what players fill their rosters, and so they can’t — and don’t — hold tryouts.

Players sign contracts after they’ve been drafted out of high school or college, or as free agents. It’s extremely rare — think Ichiro or Cuban sensation Jose Abreu — for a player to not begin his professional career in the Minors.

But what about players who don’t get drafted? What options to do they have?

Bavasi said the most important thing an aspiring player can do is to continue playing at whatever level he can find, be it college, in a collegiate wood bat or summer league, or with an independent league team. If you’re playing, and you’re good enough, someone in baseball will hear about you.

“There’s no end of showcases or games or independent leagues; there’s so many opportunities to play baseball,” said Bavasi. “That’s besides 30 teams having six or seven of their own teams. There’s tons of baseball opportunities. I think the independent leagues are probably the best non-affiliated situation you could get with, no doubt about that.”

Independent league teams are not affiliated with MLB or Minor League Baseball, but they can often be a good venue for players to get experience and potentially get noticed by a big league scout. Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava became a memorable success story when he joined an indy club, hit .371 and was ranked by Baseball America as the best prospect in the independent leagues. The Red Sox saw his name on the list and purchased his contract in 2008, leading eventually to a Major League career.

Indy clubs offer open tryouts, and they often feature former college players or Minor Leaguers who were released. Even veteran Major Leaguers like Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco have taken a shot with indy clubs.

“Those are the real, viable options to kind of throw into the mix,” said Bavasi. “That’s the opportunity I’m talking about.”read more-green

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