Perth’s Corey Adamson following Aussie Baseball Hall of Fame father’s lead excites Padres’ faithful

Perth Heat outfielder and San Diego Padres prospect Corey Adamson is currently playing for the Single-A affiliate Fort Wayne TinCaps. (Photo courtesy of the ABL / SMP Images)
Although the most prominent Australian baseball family may be the Nilsson’s, Aussie Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Adamson and his 20-year-old son, San Diego Padres prospect Corey Jon Adamson, may soon rewrite history. During his illustrious career from 1989-1995 for the Perth Heat, the elder Adamson made the most of his 279 appearances by putting up some very impressive numbers: .316 batting average, .606 slugging percentage, 252 RBI and 71 home runs. One tough act to follow as a 1988 Olympian and a Claxton Shield Helms Award Winner, Australian Baseball League star slugger Tony Adamson is undeniably one of Western Australia’s greatest baseball players ever. If anyone can surpass Tony’s huge accomplishments and break into Major League Baseball, it will be his son Corey–who is highly touted as one of the finest five-tool players with plus speed to come out of Australia.
Perth's Corey Adamson wears #1 for a reason. (Photo courtesy of Ben Southall/SMP Images)
Aussie San Diego Padres pitching prospect and rival Canberra Cavalry pitcher "The Big Dog" Hayden Beard believes he and Corey are MLB bound.
“The Big Dog” Hayden Beard, fellow Aussie Padres prospect and rival Canberra Cavalry pitcher, fetched Corey to our interview location last month during Padres Spring Training camp in Peoria, Arizona.
Seven years his senior and a starter for the Double-A affiliate San Antonio Missions, Beard has assumed a sort of mentoring role to Adamson. However, they operate together like Abbott and Costello. “Beardy”, as Adamson affectionately calls him, politely exercised good doggy manners by allowing Corey to take the mike before him because Adamson had to leave first for a minor league exhibition game against the Texas Rangers. However, there was a price to be paid for this courtesy as “The Big Dog” barked out some very witty answers to questions directed to Adamson. Corey often rifled back with even funnier responses. Although the two competed against one another in the Australian Baseball League, it was clear that they truly were MLB teammates with the same dream to make it all the way to San Diego’s PETCO Park.

20-year-old Corey Adamson is one of the Padres' finest work-in-progress.

Roberto: How are things at Padres Spring Training?
Corey Adamson: Feeling really good. This is my third spring training. I signed when I was 16. Came over for a couple weeks when I was 17. Then when
I was 18, 19, and now 20 for my third full season.
Roberto: Life in San Diego is the closest thing to West Coast living in Perth. How is it being a Padre?
Corey Adamson: It’s really good. When I signed
and I went to San Diego, I thought it was like Perth in Western Australia. I really liked the whole atmosphere of it.
Roberto: Congratulations to you and the Perth Heat for back-to-back ABL Championships. Describe your amazing catch seen by millions on TV worldwide.
Corey Adamson: It was really good winning the whole thing with Perth, which was great because we had did it the year before and made it even better. But the catch, Justin Huber, a power-hitter pulled one down the line. I saw it in the air and then I lost it. So I was kind of running blindly to the fence and then picked it up at the last minute. I had to make the slide and cut up my knee and busted it on the fence unfortunately. Other than that it looked cool on TV…I guess (laughter). The response was huge.
As soon as I caught the ball, you could hear the whole place going up and then what you didn’t see in the video is all the pitchers in the bullpen that were going crazy as well and just everyone down the line. It was really cool!

Corey Adamson (standing front and center) celebrates Perth Heat's 2012 ABL Championship victory over the Melbourne Aces. (Photo courtesy of Bohdan Warchomij / Metaphor Images)

After pitching against the Perth Heat in the ABL Championship Series, Melbource Ace pitcher Travis Blackley headed to Giants Spring Training camp in Arizona to prepare for his return to MLB with San Francisco.
Roberto: Was Perth overconfident in the ABL Championship against the Melbourne Aces?
Corey Adamson: The Perth Heat as a team…we’re not the most serious team. We go out.
We have fun and stuff. The Melbourne Aces
are a really good team. They came out and threw their best pitchers. We threw our best guys, and hit for hit we were going with each other. We just had to come through, and we took it in the end. I don’t think we came in too cocky about it, but we came in with confidence like we do with every other series.
Roberto: Did it appear that Melbourne Ace pitcher Travis Blackley was out there to make amends and stop the Heat from repeating?
Corey Adamson: He wasn’t out there just to pitch for himself. He wanted to win. You could see it when he gave up a hit. He was getting angry if he didn’t strike someone out. Or if he gave up a walk he was getting mad about it.
He was out there competing, and I guess we just came through in the end.

Perth Heat's Luke Hughes
Roberto: Did you think that the Perth Heat were vulnerable when Aussie MLB star Luke Hughes got hurt and was not able to play on your team in the ABL Championship?
Corey Adamson: As good as it is having Luke Hughes in the line-up, we felt like we had enough depth in the line-up that we put out there. Not that we didn’t need him, but that we could get by without him–which was good. We still hung his jersey in the dugout. A little bit of good luck so it felt like he was there.
Corey Adamson poses for a 2011 San Diego Padres publicity photo.
Corey Adamson received instruction
from legendary MLB All-Star Rod Carew at the famed MLB Australian Academy.
Roberto: You’re always smiling in a Padres uniform. What’s the secret to your happiness?
Corey Adamson: It’s a great organization, a great place to be in. Even in spring training, it’s like all the coaches care about what you’re doing. All the managers care..it’s not we’re here just for
a business. You know even though it’s a business, it’s more like a family as well. I got to keep hitting well. Wherever they put me, I will play as best I can. I just got to keep working. Go well this spring, this season. And then in the offseason again–just keep getting better. Hopefully, it will be a short trip to the Big Leagues.
Roberto: Who do you aspire to be like in Major League Baseball?
Hayden Beard (interjecting): The Big Dog! (laughter)
Corey Adamson: Definitely not like Beardy at all!!! (even more laughter)
Former Perth U.S. Consul General Ken Chern (center) with Dave Nilsson (left) and Graeme Lloyd (right).
Roberto: How about the MLB players and instructors at the MLB Australian Academy?
Corey Adamson: Through Academy and having Dave Nilsson coach and Graeme Lloyd…that was great. Dave Nilsson was a really good coach. He taught me a lot of stuff and to always aim to be an all-star. One year we
had Rod Carew as our baserunning and outfield coach. I loved the way
he played. He had 18 years of all-star appearances and a bunch of stolen bases. I just loved the way he played the game.

The intensity of Corey Adamson is much appreciated by jubilant teammate Matt Kennelly in
the ABL Championship against Melbourne. (Photo courtesy of Theron Kirkman / SMP Images)
Roberto: Do you feel coming from an emerging baseball market in Australia that you are at a disadvantage competing against players from countries which historically have had success in launching long and lucrative careers in MLB?
Corey Adamson: Coming over from Australia you can really tell that we haven’t had as many swings and reps as the Latin American or American guys. But it just means is that when we get here that we have to try extra hard to play catch up a little bit. And just really knuckle down on focusing what the coaches are telling us to do, exactly what they say.

By working out in the weight room with Padre Kyle Blanks--a six-foot-six, 270 pound muscleman--Corey Adamson hopes to fast track to MLB.
Roberto: What is your interaction with the Padres Major Leaguers like Kyle Blanks?
Corey Adamson: The locker rooms are kind of
split up, but we’re always intertwined at some point whether getting lunch or in the weight room and stuff. I always try to have a couple words with him.
I speak to Blanks a lot whenever he’s walking by or whatever.
Roberto: The guy is a giant! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody his stature. What is he, six-foot-six
and 270 pounds?
Corey Adamson: He’s huge. As much as I would like, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to take the BP(batting practice) that he can take.
Roberto: Are you giving way to him when he wants to use the bench press and you’re next in line?
Corey Adamson: Ah, you know, I think I might be able to push a little more weight than him.
Hayden Beard: (uncontrollable outburst of laughter)
Corey Adamson: He’s a Big Leaguer so he gets first pick of what he would like to do, and I I’ll just do something else.
After leading the Australian Baseball League in hits (67), runs (41), BB (34), BA (.409), OBP (.510), and OPS (1.187), and not being named the ABL MVP, we hereby award Brian Burgamy of the Canberra Cavalry a life-size Carmen Electra Easter bunny booby prize for his earth-shattering 2011-12.

Roberto: What inspired you @coreyadamson to tweet about Easter eggs and Easter bunnies?
Corey Adamson: (Laughter) Me and Beardy went to Walmart to do our taxes one day, and the bloke that did our taxes was just drunk, smashed out of his head. He was really below average at his job so we walked around Walmart for a little bit. Saw that Easter eggs were out, and so we got to have a
couple Easter eggs.
Roberto: If any team was going to take down
the Perth Heat, yet did not qualify for the playoffs but appeared to have shut down your offense throughout the season with their pitching, it was
the Canberra Cavalry. Did they not have the Perth Heat’s number?
Corey Adamson: Yeah, you could say that. They had a really good pitching staff. You know, being
2-for-2 off Hayden Beard was pretty good.
Hayden Beard: (Laughter) Two bloopers.
Corey Adamson: (Laughter) Two first-pitch leanies at his face.
Hayden Beard: (Laughter)
Corey Adamson: Yeah, they (Canberra) were the team to take us down if anyone could.
Roberto: What about Brian Burgamy not getting
the Australian Baseball League Most Valuable Player?
Brian Burgamy came up short in ABL MVP voting.(Photo courtesy of ABL / Ben Southall / SMP Images)
Hayden Beard::((Shaking his head in disbelief)
I know…
Corey Adamson: You know, a .409 batting average
obviously deserves something. But I’m not going to
be the one to take it away from Tim Kennelly. (laughter)
Roberto: Maybe an Easter bunny would be a consolation gift? (laughter)
Corey Adamson: I’ll send one over to him. (laughter)
Roberto: Anything to share with your friends, families, coaches and supporters back home that have great hopes and aspirations for you?
Corey Adamson: Just that you know I’m over here grinding out everyday doing as best as I can to try to get to the Big Leagues as soon as possible. That’s
about it.
Roberto: Thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure visiting with you, and we’ll catch up with you again soon.
Corey Adamson: Thank you very much!
From the West Coast of Australia to the West Coast of California, six-foot-two, 185 pound
Perth Heat outfielder Corey Adamson will head for the expressway leading to his MLB debut
at San Diego's legendary PETCO Park. (Photo courtesy of ABL/Theron Kirkman/SMP Images)

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Heat fireman Jacob Clem comes to the rescue of ABL Champ Perth and flushes Melbourne Aces

Heat pitcher Jacob Clem deserved MVP status after surrendering only two earned runs in over 15 innings of work--including the decisive game three of the 2012 ABL Championship--against the Melbourne Aces. (Theron Kirkman /SMP Images)
Nostradamus could have predicted the end of the Melbourne Aces season when Perth sidearm specialist Jacob Clem went head-to-head against fellow American and MLB veteran Jason Hirsh on November 13th. For nine innings the Aces were blindsided and shell shocked by the six-foot-four Burlington, Washington native, who threw a complete game in which he allowed only six hits and one earned run. Up until the final week of the regular ABL season, Clem (2-1, 3.91 ERA) was used sparingly when he was needed most. Former MLB World Series reliever and current Perth Heat Pitching Coach Graeme Lloyd knew exactly what he was doing when Clem was inserted in the ninth inning of a tied game against the Sydney Blue Sox on January 20th. Not only would this outing serve as a final tune-up entering the postseason for Clem, but also reestablish his critical role as the defending champion Heat’s saving grace in battles of long relief. He pitched seven stellar innings on the mound and gave up just two hits. Clem eventually earned the win after 2011-12 ABL MVP Tim Kennelly hit a walk-off home run in the 15th inning.
In his final home start for the 2011 Washington Huskies, pitcher Jacob Clem fired a six-hit
shutout over the American collegiate powerhouse and eighth ranked Arizona State Sun Devils.
Perth Heat's Jacob Clem looks up at a ball hit in the ABL Championship. (Theron Kirkman/SMP Images)
History would repeat itself in the Heat’s most critical moment of the season in the deciding game three
of the Australian Baseball League Championship Series against the Melbourne Aces last Sunday at
Perth’s Babagallo Ballpark. At the end of the day, two members of last season’s Washington Husky baseball senior class–Geoff Brown and Jacob Clem—along with Heat relievers Brenden Wise and Jack Frawley would ultimately determine if the ABL defending champions would repeat in the final do-or-die contest that would last 13 innings and turn out to be an enduring manager’s no holds barred strategic tug-of-war chess match.

Senior Jacob Clem made the transition from reliever to starter and pitched over 70 innings in 17 appearances with 10 starts and two complete game shutouts.
The irony of Jacob Clem in a Perth Heat uniform is still hard to believe. It took an injury to Heat pitcher Ben Moore, last year’s ABL Championship Series MVP and 2011-12 Round One ABL Pitcher of the Week, for Rockingham Rams import Jacob Clem–fresh out of college at the University of Washington–to be called up to the Heat as Moore’s replacement. Who would have guessed that last year’s playoff MVP would be substituted by what many insiders consider to be this year’s ABL Championship Series Most Valuable Performance by 24-year-old Jacob Clem? In the final and decisive game three, it appeared on paper that Perth starting pitcher Geoff Brown–who also happens to be the Huskies’ all-time pitching appearances leader–with his perfect 5-0 record and 1.88 ERA would dominate the pesky Melbourne Aces by himself. However, Brown was chased out of the game only after 1.2 innings. Jacob Clem came firing from the bullpen, despite having little time to warm up and bail his University of Washington Husky college buddy out of a jam and keep the Heat alive.
The internationally televised Australian Baseball League Championship Series was a perfect MLB showcase for Perth Heat saviour Jacob Clem.
(Scott Powick / SMP Images / ABL)

Once again, the tried and tested Clem–who had previously attacked the Aces’ Achilles heel in a complete game victory in November–would rise to the occasion and successfully hold his vulnerable opponent for 6.1 innings while only allowing one earned run and four hits. Coupled with another five innings of shutout pitching by Heat relievers Brenden Wise and Jack Frawley, the Mount Vernon-born Jacob Clem made the difference between Perth keeping and relinquishing the throne of the ABL Championship. The Heat would prevail at the end of a tightly contested
game that went on for 13 pressure-packed innings until James McOwen scored from third on a wild pitch.
MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer and Bellingham Bells pitching coach Jim Clem offer sound advice.
Son of Jim Clem—who was the longtime baseball coach for Burlington-Edison High School and is currently the pitching coach for the West Coast League Summer Collegiate Bellingham Bells baseball squad–and younger brother of Zach Clem–who was a two-time All-Pac-10 outfielder playing at the University of Washington for four years from 2003-2006 with the likes of Tim Lincecum, Brent Lillebridge and Sean White as well as a minor leaguer in the Milwaukee Brewers franchise before a series of concussions ended his career,
Future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. playing for the Bellingham Mariners.

Jacob was surrounded by baseball fever all of his life. While playing for his father at Burlington-Edison as a high school senior, he was named the Skagit Valley Herald’s 2006 player of the year as well as to the first-team Washington All-State and All-Northwest League after a respectable 7-2 record with a 1.22 ERA and three saves. In 63 innings of work, Clem struck out 70 batters. He was equally impressive at the plate with a .354 batting average, five home runs and 26 RBI. While still in high school, Jacob led his summer league Burlington Sox to the league, district, state and regional titles. He was selected as the MVP of the state American Legion tournament and the American Legion Division I Player of the Year after going 10-1 on the mound, while batting .421 with 22 doubles, five homers and 43 RBI. Clem redshirted his first season at the University of Washington and played summer ball for the Bellingham Bells, a city deeply entrenched in a long baseball tradition along with an eager and loyal following in the Pacific Northwest.
From 1973 through 1976, the Bellingham team was an affiliate for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and later from 1977 through 1994 became the minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. During this time, the squad was called the Bellingham Mariners, or “Baby M’s.” Perhaps the franchise’s most notable claim to fame came in 1987 when Ken Griffey Jr. hit his first professional home run wearing a Bellingham uniform. Other names that have come through Bellingham include Edgar Martinez, Omar Vizquel, Raul Ibanez, Dave Valle, Bud Black, Derek Lowe, Joe Nathan, Russ Ortiz, Mike Scioscia, Rick Sutcliffe and Mark Langston. Bellingham was the San Francisco Giants affiliate in 1995 and 1996 before eventually becoming the permanent home to the West Coast League Summer Collegiate Bellingham Bells with strong ties to Major Leaguers Jamie Moyer and Dave Valle. While playing for the University of Washington, Jacob Clem spent his summers in California with the Palm Springs Power and in Oregon with the Bend Elks. After a season-ending injury in 2008, the right-handed pitcher came back strong during his 2009 campaign. He was named Academic All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention after not allowing an earned run in seven of nine pitching appearances. Clem took it to the next level during his junior year by making 30 relief appearances and earning All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention as a result of stifling Pac-10 opponents to a .211 batting average (second-lowest in the league) and posting a 3.14 ERA (fourth-best in the conference). As a senior, he demonstrated outstanding command by walking only 15 while striking out 45 batters (averaging 5.42 strike outs per nine innings pitched). Jacob graduated in 2011 with a Husky career 3.86 ERA and an 8-10 record. Clem recently signed a professional baseball contract with the Independent Frontier League Traverse City Beach Bums. Director of Baseball Operations Jason Wuerfel is optimistic that his new pitcher will make a major impact in the East Division of the Frontier League. He said, “Clem is a big, strong, versatile righty that could help us in a lot of different roles. He was one of the Pac-10’s top closers his junior season, but also excelled as a starting pitcher his senior year. He went down to Australia this off-season and pitched at their highest level of baseball, facing a lot of current Double-A and Triple-A prospects. With that experience under his belt, he has the chance to be one of the top rookie pitchers…”
As a former Minor League pitcher for the New York Mets and Houston Astros organization manager, Beach Bum pitching coach and manager Gregg Langbehn realizes the importance of a strong pitching staff more than most. He has been working particularly hard this off-season with Director of Baseball Operations Jason Wuerfel to sign as many pitchers for spring camp as possible. He may have just found his diamond in the rough with the signing of Jacob Clem. Despite Nostradamus’ dim prediction for 2012, the Washington state native and Perth Heat unheralded hero has aligned himself in a very good position to get the recognition he so wholeheartedly deserves with a future MLB contract.

All I want for Christmas is Aussie Baseball Love!!!

At mlbblogger–where the stadium lights are always on–we long for baseball to reach a worldwide audience. We are thankful for the blessings of an Aussie Baseball Christmas and wish for a prosperous 2012 in the Australian Baseball League (ABL). In the spirit of giving, we would like to share the current holiday season standings and our secret Santa for each team in the ABL.

Team: PERTH HEAT ABL Current Standing: 1st (18-6, .750) 2011 Defending Australian Baseball League Champions
AKA: The ‘Alcohol Think Again’ Perth Heat

Official Website
Official Mascots: HEAT Flash and Hot Dog
Home Field: Barbagallo Ballpark

Secret Santa: Tim Kennelly BA .341 (4th) HITS: 30 (4th)
RBI: 19 (4th) RUNS: 17 (4th) 2B: 6 (5th) OBP: .413 (6th)

Families celebrate the Christmas spirit in Western Australia's capital city of Perth.

Attending the Australian Baseball Academy at the young age of 16, Tim Kennelly was on display for a slew of MLB scouts–who were impressed with his Big League potential as a strategic catcher and skilled third baseman. While still a teenager, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-drafted free agent in 2003 out of Fremantle, Australia’s Christian Brothers College. In his first year for the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2005, Kennelly hit .295 with an equally impressive .420 slugging percentage. After suffering a torn labrium in 2006, he missed an entire season. The six-foot Perth-born utility player came back strong in 2009, when he put together a .289 batting average and .433 slugging percentage in 113 games for Phillies affiliates Florida State League (FSL) Single-A Advanced Clearwater Threshers
and Eastern League Double-A Reading Phillies.

Retired MLB All-Star Pedro Martinez stretches with Tim Kennelly before rehab assignment game.
HEAT's Tim Kennelly (Theron Kirkman/SMP Images)

Named to the 2009 FSL Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star teams, Kennelly soon rubbed shoulders with the baseball’s elite–including former MLB All-Star pitcher Pedro Martinez while calling games behind the plate. Spending seven seasons in the Philadelphia minor league system, he has posted a .263 batting average with 18 home runs and 210 RBI in 485 games. To the delight of friends and family, the Aussie native returned home to play for the Perth Heat in the reorganized MLB-sponsored Australian Baseball League in 2010.

Perth's Barbagallo Ballpark, home of the inaugural ConocoPhillips ABL All-Star Game and
the ABL Defending Champion Alcohol Think Again HEAT (Theron Kirkman/SMP Images/ABL)

After leading his team to the 2011 ABL Championship, Tim Kennelly flew 11,641 miles and spent 24 hours in the air before touching down in Lakewood, New Jersey–home of the Phillies affiliate South Atlantic League Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws. As the BlueClaws primary catcher and outfielder, he compiled a respectable .293 batting average with one home run and 20 RBIs in 39 games.

Perth Heat slugger Tim Kennelly on Team Australia in the 2011 ABL All-Star Game (Theron Kirkman)

In fact, the resourceful utility man has played every position but shortstop in his baseball career. Having returned from Taiwan where he played in the 2011 Asia Series against the best from the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Korea Baseball Organization and Japan’s Nippon Baseball League, the Heat’s Tim Kennelly is having a smashing time during the current 2011-12 ABL season. He will undoubtedly compete for the ABL MVP title down the stretch. Since filing for free agency, the talented and multi-faceted Australian renaissance man remains a solid bet to rejoin the Philadelphia Phillies–considering his fine catching ability and familiarity with the world-class organization’s up-and-coming pitching prospects due to arrive at the Double-A level in 2012.

Adelaide Christmas cheer

Team: ADELAIDE BITE
ABL Current Standing: 2nd (14-10, .583) Games Behind: 4

AKA: Adelaide ETSA Bite

Official Website

Official Mascot: Chomper

Home Field: Coopers Stadium at Norwood Oval

Top ranked Seattle Mariners prospect James Jones is projected to make his MLB debut at Safeco in 2013.

Secret Santa: James Jones
HR 3 (5th) RUNS 15 (6th)
SB 3 (6th) 2B 4 (7th) HITS 24 (10th)
OBP .380 (10th) RBI 11 (11th)
BA .279 (16th) SLG .430 (16th)

Prior to the start of his 2009 college season at Long Island University, Baseball American ranked James Jones #30 in its Top 100 Prospects. He was later selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 4th round of the 2009 amateur draft as an outfielder.

The Adelaide Bite's James Jones has all the tools to succeed in the Bigs. (Ben Southill/SMP Images/ABL)

While in college, he was respected as an excellent defensive outfielder and a strong pitcher who could hit 95 on radar guns with his fastball. In July of 2009, the six-foot-four left-handed hitter headed to the Pacific Northwest to join Mariners affiliate Northwest League Single-A short season Everett AquaSox and played in 45 games. His quick bat and speed on the bases were evident as demonstrated by his .311 batting average with three homers, 12 doubles, three triples, 24 RBIs, 28 runs scored and 19 walks.

A speedy James Jones on the bases is a pitcher's worst nightmare. (Ryan Schembri/SMP Media/ABL)

James Jones helped the Single-A Clinton LumberKings become 2010 West Division Champs in the Midwest League and a strong contender in the 11 game playoffs–where he led in batting average (.356), hits (16), home runs (3), and stolen bases (9). Last season Jones played with the current ABL batting leader, Adelaide teammate Denny Almonte, as well as Perth Heat’s James McOwen while with the Single-A High Desert Mavericks. Rated by Baseball America as the best outfield arm among Mariner prospects and heralded as an excellent athlete–who is fast and strong with good Big League composure in regards to personality, intelligence, and work ethic– Jones has gap-to-gap power, the ability to track down balls in the outfield and blazing speed on the base paths. James Jones has not wasted a moment in making believers of those following his progress in the Australian Baseball League. On December 11th with Adelaide Bite trailing Canberra Cavalry by one-run heading into the top of the eighth, the 23-year-old slugger blasted a grand slam for a heroic come-from-behind rally to victory.

Christmas in the South Wales capital city of Sydney

Team: SYDNEY BLUE SOX
ABL Current Standing: 3rd
(13-12, .520) Games Behind 5.5

Official Website

Un-Official Team Blogger:
Todd Van Steensel

Official Mascot: Syd

Home Field: Blue Sox Stadium, Blacktown International Sportspark

Aussie Chris Oxspring and Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland during Spring Training.

Secret Santa: Chris Oxspring
Win-Loss Record: 2-2 (3rd) ERA 2.00 (5th)
Strike Outs 28 (5th) WHIP 1.19 (9th)

After pitching the Australian National Team to a 1-0 victory over Japan in a semifinal game at the 2004 Athens Games and assuring his country’s first Olympic silver medal in Aussie baseball history, Chris Oxspring was hailed a national hero. With Major League veteran catcher Dave Nilsson calling the game behind the plate, Oxspring pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings against Japan. By striking out five and issuing no walks, he catapulted Australia into the gold medal game against Cuba. However, being the pride and joy for Australia was not enough for this professional ballplayer with real life MLB experience with the San Diego Padres as well as four seasons under his belt at the Triple-A level playing for the Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers organizations. Oxspring began the 2011 season with Detroit affiliate Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. In 20.2 innings pitched, he struck out 20 batters in 20.2 innings pitched. Rather than competing for regular playing time, Oxspring opted to make 18 starts for the Independent Atlantic League Somerset Patriots. In 115.2 innings of work, he struck out 114 batters with a 4.17 ERA.

Blue Sox pitcher Chris Oxspring will not settle for anything less than the best. (Joe Vella/SMP Images)

Oxspring has a career 40-24 record with a 3.66 ERA and 612 strikeouts in 638.2 innings pitched. Equipped with a mid-90’s fastball, a knee-buckling curve ball, a cutter/slider and change-up, this right-handed hurler can decimate hitters. After pitching stints for Japan’s Nippon Baseball League Hanshin Tigers and Korea Baseball Organization’s LG Twins, Oxspring had to take two seasons off for an elbow injury. Now in his second season for the ABL’s Sydney Blue Sox, the power arm of Chris Oxspring is in full effect.

Christmas season in Canberra

Team: CANBERRA CAVALRY
ABL Current Standing: 4th
(10-15, .400) Games Behind 8.5

AKA Canberra UberGlobal Cavalry

Official Website

Official Mascot: Sarge

Home Field: Narrabundah Ballpark

Cavs Takumi Akiyama has returned to Japan due to player union rules. (Jen Edwards/SMP Images/ABL)

Secret Santa: Takumi Akiyama
Win-Loss Record: 1-0 (1st) ERA 1.23 (1st)
WHIP 1.05 (3rd) Strike Outs 16 (15th)

A fourth-round pick by Japan’s Hanshin Tigers in 2009, Takumi Akiyama may be the best-hitting pitcher in Asia. During his high school campaign, he knocked out 48 home runs. Making his Nippon Baseball League debut in 2010, he held opponents to a .228 batting average in seven starts and put together a 4-4 record with a 3.35 ERA. His mid-90’s fastball, curveball, slider and forkball were all effective pitches in the ABL. Due to Japanese player union rules, Akiyama had to return home to rest before the beginning of the 2012 season. However, Cavs fans need not fret as Santa has left two stocking stuffers from the Tampa Bay Rays organization: Baseball America’s Top Defensive Outfielder Rays prospect–Kevin Kiermaier and catcher Mark Thomas, who led the Charlotte Stone Crabs with 13 home runs.

Melbourne magic during Christmas time

Team: MELBOURNE ACES
ABL Current Standing: 4th
(10-15, .400) Games Behind 8.5

AKA The Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces

Official Website

Un-Official Team Blogger: Jason Hirsh

Official Mascot: Maverick The Mascot!

Home Field: Melbourne Showgrounds

Secret Santa:
Justin Huber
BB 19 (1st) OBP .468 (1st)
RUNS 19 (2nd) OPS .974 (3rd)
BA .333 (5th) HITS 29 (5th)
2B 6 (5th) HR 3 (5th) SLG .506 (6th)
SB 2 (7th) RBI 12 (10th)

Melbourne's Justin Huber was converted from a catcher to a first baseman due to a knee injury.
(Ryan Schembri / SMP Images / ABL)

Signed in 2000 by the New York Mets as a catcher, 18-year-old Aussie high school student Justin Huber still had another six months before he would graduate. In his first professional season, he blasted seven home runs and drove in 31 runs while boasting a .287 batting average. Racking up an impressive .399 OBP in 2002, he ascended up the Mets ranks by crushing 14 home runs and driving in 93 runs. In his first two pro seasons while facing the Mets top pitching prospects, the 20-year-old catcher hit 21 home runs and recorded 124 RBI.

Justin Huber went 3-for-5 in the inaugural 2011 ABL All-Star Game (Theron Kirkman)

The six-foot-five catcher became Mike Piazza’s protegé and looked to be a MLB shoe-in. However, in the summer of 2004 Huber would undergo surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and his future as a catcher was over. He was traded to the Kansas City Royals organization in exchange for home run king, Jose Bautista. In 2005 the Royals converted Huber to a first baseman, and he responded with career bests 23 home runs, 97 RBI, a .326 batting average and a .417 OBP. He was named to the 2005 MLB Futures Game with the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Justin Verlander, Francisco Liriano and B.J. Upton. Playing for the World team, Huber’s two-run double lead to a 4-0 victory over U.S.A., and he was awarded the game’s prestigious MVP honors. He has since played in 72 Major League games for the Royals, Padres and Twins.

Bright Brisbane Christmas

Team: BRISBANE BANDITS
ABL Current Standing: 5th
(9-16, .360) Games Behind 9.5

Official Website

Official Video: Brisbane Bandits Baseball “They’re Back”

Official Mascot: Buster the Bandit

Home Field: RNA Showgrounds

2011 Team Australia All-Star Joshua Roberts went 2-for-4 with a home run in the ABL All-Star Game.
(Ben Southall / SMP Images / ABL)

Secret Santa:
Joshua Roberts
2B 9 (2nd) 3B 1 (2nd) HITS 31 (3rd)
OPS .974 (3rd) HR 3 (5th) RBI 17 (5th)
SLG .495 (7th) RUNS 13 (8th) BA .301 (11th)

As the RBI leader in ABL last year, Brisbane Bandit right fielder Joshua Roberts earned the team’s MVP honors. On par to have an equally impressive finish this season after a brilliant performance for Team Australia in the inaugural 2011 ABL All-Star Game, Roberts is certainly one of Australia’s finest athletes–splitting time between baseball’s Brisbane Bandits and rugby’s Ipswich Jets. Roberts probably recorded one of the best jumping catches in ABL history when he literally ran through the fence to rob a home run during a game against Adelaide. Signed by the Cleveland Indians to play professional baseball at 18, Roberts never made it to the Major Leagues in his 117 games for the Tribe from 2004-06. Yet, the 25-year-old’s athleticism and desire to play tough should not be discounted. Look for him to make a big Brisbane Bandit push down to the wire with his “never say die” attitude.