Australian lifestyle suits Top 40 American in the ABL: #36 Kevin Reese of the Melbourne Aces

36Ace pitcher Kevin Reese, who will on his home away from home turf as part of the World Team pitching staff in the 2012 ABL
All-Star Game at Melbourne Ballpark, would probably not think twice about crediting the Aussie lifestyle for his recently rejuvenated confidence and positive outlook. “I have to pay tribute to the Australian lifestyle, where everybody is very laid back,” Reese said.
“The biggest thing I learned out here was to trust your ability because you’re always one pitch away. There was a relaxed mindset
with runners on base. It’s nothing new that the coaches haven’t told me. It just kind of clicked. The lifestyle rolled into baseball.”Melbourne_Aces

After being named to the 2010 Frontier League All-Star Team pitching for the Traverse City Beach Bums and blowing away opponents in the Baseball Victoria Summer League as the Malvern Braves’ import, the 27-year-old right-hander earned the right to be the 2011 Melbourne Aces’ Opening Day starter. Asked to return for an encore and pitch during the 2012-13 ABL season, the Pennsylvania native is a lot better than his 2-5 record and 3.81 ERA reflects.

Top 40 American and Melbourne Ace pitcher Kevin Reese (Ryan Schembri / SMP Images)
2012 ABL All-Star and Melbourne Ace starting pitcher Kevin Reese (Ryan Schembri / SMP Images / ABL)

Currently ninth in the ABL with 51 strikeouts during his 59 innings of work and 11 starts, Reese is highly regarded by Melbourne Ace manager Phil Dale. Following an unlucky loss to the Canberra Cavalry on December 13th, Dale said: “He still gave us a chance, it was a quality start and from him that is all we can ask for.” The six-foot pitcher was one of 11 members of the Melbourne Aces chosen for 2012 ABL All-Star game. Reese suited up for the World All-Stars–which included players from the United States, Korea and Japan–and faced Team Australia.ABL All-Star Game The former East Stroudsburg South High School, Blair Academy and Lafayette College standout played for the Atlantic League’s Somerset Patriots in 2011 and the Camden Riversharks in 2012. Notable Riversharks in the ABL have included Mike McGuire and Brian Burgamy from the 2011-12 Canberra Cavalry and Sean Jarrett from 2011-12 Brisbane Bandits. Click HERE to see Reese, McGuire, Burgamy and Jarrett talk about their Aussie experience in this video produced by Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballalexis). Reese filled every role in the Camden Riversharks pitching staff. He started out in the long relief role, helping to save the bullpen when starters couldn’t go deep into ball games. Later he was added to the rotation, allowing the starters an extra day of rest with six men in the rotation. Then after he was put back into the bullpen, Reese was immediately called on to fill Sean Jarrett’s spot in the rotation when he went on the disabled list and proved to be invaluable for the remainder of the season.

Liam Bedford, Elliott Biddle and Kevin Reese of the Melbourne Aces (Brett Crockford / SMP Images)
Liam Bedford, Elliot Biddle and Kevin Reese of the Melbourne Aces (Brett Crockford / SMP Images / ABL)

Perhaps Reese’s best Melbourne Ace pitching moment came in possible elimination game
two of the best-of-three 2012 ABL Championship Series against the Perth Heat on February 11th. Entering the do-or-die game in the 11th inning with the score tied at 2-2, the American hurler tossed three scoreless innings to get the victory as the Aces scored the winning run in the top of the 13th to force a game three contest. Unfortunately, Melbourne came up short 7-6 and lost to the defending champion Heat in the series’ deciding game on the following day. This season the Aces hope to turn the tables and bring home the ABL championship to Victoria. There is a feeling in Australia that the best has yet to come for Kevin Reese, and he will come through in the clutch again when everything is on the line
for the 2012-13 Melbourne Aces.

Melbourne Aces' USA imports Kevin Reese and Bubbie Buzachero (Brett Crockford / SMP Images / ABL)
Melbourne Aces’ USA imports Kevin Reese and Bubbie Buzzachero (Brett Crockford / SMP Images / ABL)

2012 Longshots in the Australian Baseball League

#1 Kenny Wilson (Theron Kirkman/SMP Media)
Citing Ken Griffey Jr. as his favorite MLB player growing up and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips as his role model for having fun while playing pro ball, Canberra Cavalry’s outfielder Kenny Wilson is a mixed hybrid of both baseball idols. A Blue Jays 2nd round pick in the 2008 draft out of Tampa’s Sickles High School, Wilson was offered a full-ride to the University of Florida. Rather than going on to play college ball, Wilson opted to take the loonie loot offered by Toronto instead and accepted a $644,000 signing bonus on June 10, 2008. Blessed with blazing speed, the teen that dreamt of being the fastest law enforcement officer on the Florida Turnpike matured into the U.S.A. Sunshine State’s finest baseball player.
Canberra's Kenny Wilson (Martin Caulfield/SMP Media)
Prior to joining the Cavs this year in the ABL, the switch-hitting 21-year-old completed a rehab assignment in the Dunedin Blue Jays Instructional League after missing the final four months of the 2011 season due to shoulder surgery. With four home runs and 122 stolen bases as a Toronto minor leaguer, he is known more for his speed than his power. Currently tied for 4th in doubles (7) and 5th in stolen bases (6) in the ABL, Wilson undoubtedly will be looking for more opportunities to get in scoring position for Canberra in 2012. He has also come through in the clutch with 15 RBI, which ranks 7th best in the league. Watch for Kenny Wilson to come flying late for a photo finish.
#2 Calvin Anderson (Theron Kirkman/SMP Images)
Named bonorable mention for the ABL Round Six Player of the Week batting award, Adelaide Bite’s first baseman and clean-up hitter Calvin Anderson came back strong to earn ABL Round Seven Player of the Week recognition for his .333 batting average (5-for-15, including two home runs and four RBI in the four-game series against Brisbane. Currently 4th in home runs (6) and tied for 5th in RBI (17) in the ABL, Anderson made ABL history with his 12-game hitting streak. He had 19 hits in 52 at-bats during the offensive outburst (.365 BA). His hot streak has been instrumental in elevating the Bite, which sat near the cellar of the standings before Anderson propelled them into 2nd place.
Bite celebrate Anderson's walk-off home run against the Sydney Blue Sox in Round Four of the 2011-12 ABL season. (Ryan Schembri / SMP Media / ABL)

Calvin Anderson was selected in the 12th round of the 2008 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 24-year-old six-foot-seven Kirkland, Washington-born slugger was Goliath during the first half of the 2011 season at Single-A Advanced Bradenton blasting 13 homes runs in 225 plate appearances while batting .271, but the former Southern A & M College star sat out the second half with a knee injury. Anderson’s power numbers doubled as he hit 11 homers in 464 at-bats in 2010. Look for a break out 2012 from this MLB prospect and Big League muscle for Adelaide down the stretch.
#3 Aaron Baker (Jen Edwards / SMP Media / ABL)
Drafted in the 11th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Oklahoma University in 2009, Texas native Aaron Baker was also at Single-A Advanced Bradenton this past summer before being traded by the Pirates to Baltimore in exchange for MLB veteran Derek Lee. The 24-year-old Baker was hitting .282 with 21 doubles, 15 home runs and 73 RBI at the time of the trade. The former UO catcher and first baseman was named a 2011 Florida State League All-Star.

The left-handed hitting first baseman became the Bradenton Marauders’ fan favorite and was considered the Pirate organization’s most promising prospect to break into the Bigs before flying away as an Oriole. Playing for ABL defending champion Perth Heat, Baker is currently 5th in the league in HR (5), RBI (20) and SLG (.524). It’s best to use his hot bat in all 2012 exotic wagers or else…

#4 Trent Baker (Scott Powick / SMP Images / ABL)
Trent Baker has been on a 2011 MLB roller coaster after being down-and-out when released by the Cleveland Indians in March and then being high-in-the-sky while seeking redemption when signed by the Atlanta Braves in July. Originally signed as an outfielder by the Tribe in 2008, the 21-year-old Aussie will report to 2012 Braves Spring Training as a left-handed throwing hurler. In 10 innings pitched for the Brisbane Bandits, Baker is 2-1 and has struck out 11. Beware as this outsider will make a run for the money at the wire.
#5 Todd Van Steensel (Ryan Schembri/SMP Media) splits his time blogging for the Clubhouse Chronicles, tweeting on twitter @toddvs35 and playing MLB 2K12.

Todd Van Steensel experienced the same euphoric yo-yo effect after being signed by the Philadelphia Phillies at the 2008 U18 Championships in Perth only to be released in March 2010. As the youngest member on Team Australia, the 20-year-old Sydney socialite trained diligently at the Australian MLB Academy, where he signed with the Minnesota Twins. The Blue Sox pitcher should not be over-looked as it would not be surprising to see him and his American teammates in the 2012 ABL Winner’s Circle.

#6 Bubbie Buzachero (Brett Crockford/SMP Media)

Selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2002 draft out of Tennessee Tech, Bubbie Buzachero has also played for the Houston Astros organization in ten minor league seasons. The 30-year-old pitcher compiled a 38-29 record, a 3.74 ERA, and 70 saves in 392 games. Playing for the ALPB Long Island Ducks in 2011, he made 57 appearances and posted a 8-2 record with a 2.42 ERA. Bubbie Buzachero–Melbourne Ace and the longest shot in the field–was born to perform and to deliver nothing short of his best effort.