Thursday, December 29, 2011

Australian Baseball League Update

The Australian Baseball League resumed last night following an eight-day break for Christmas and the All-Star Game. The ABL plays a 45-game regular season schedule, beginning in early November and ending in late January. This is the first year the Rays have participated in the league, sending five players along with Princeton Rays Manager Mike Johns as a coach. Todd Glaesmann, Ty Morrison, Mark Thomas, Kevin Keiermaier and Johns are members of the Canberra Cavalry, while Darryl George is with the Melbourne Aces. Glaesmann and Morrison were scheduled to play in the first half of the season (11/4 - 12/20), followed by Thomas and Kiermaier primarily in the second half (12/29- 1/22). Some thoughts so far:

Todd Glaesmann - The 21 year-old outfielder only played in 74 games last summer due to injury, so winter ball gives him a chance to make up for lost time. In 22 ABL games Glaesmann hit .310/.385/.476 over 84 at-bats. Seven of his 26 hits were for extra bases, including three home runs, and he stole seven bases in nine attempts. Strikeouts continued to be a concern, ending 20% of his ABL at-bats, but still an improvement over his 40% k-rate for Bowling Green in 2011.

Overall it was an excellent performance, culminating in him being named to the roster for the December 21st All-Star Game. Unfortunately he was unable to participate due to an injury a few days before game, described as either a broken hand or a fractured right wrist. According to Marc Topkin he will be healed in time for spring training.

Ty Morrison - Like Glaesmann, Morrison needed work in winter ball after playing in only 67 games for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2011. For Canberra he hit .245/.330/.363 in 102 at-bats with nine stolen bases. The 21 year-old outfielder struggled towards the end of his ABL stint, hitting only .176 (6-34) over his final eight games. Morrison replaced Glaesmann on the World Team roster for the All-Star Game, going 0-5 with an RBI.

Mark Thomas - The 23 year-old catcher didn't begin ABL play until December 16th after undergoing off-season surgery. In three games so far he's one for eleven with a double. After a full season of catching for Charlotte and then surgery, simply coming back healthy would a successful trip in my opinion.

Kevin Kiermaier - The third of the three 21 year-old outfielders the Rays sent to Australia, Kiermaier began play on December 15th. In five games he's gone three for 17 (.176) with two doubles, including 0-3 last night in the first game of the second half. He and Thomas are expected to play for Canberra for the rest of the ABL season, which ends January 22nd.

Darryl George - George is the youngest of the Rays Australian contingent at only 18 years old, and the only one not with Canberra, playing instead for the Melbourne Aces. He is also the only player in the Rays organization from Australia, born in Carlton in 1993.

After signing for a $100,000 bonus in May of 2010, George hit .243/.360/.284 with three doubles in 74 at-bats for the 2011 Gulf Coast League Rays in his professional debut. So far in the ABL the third baseman has a .230/.288/.295 line with four doubles in 61 at-bats over 23 games. Despite his youth, George's power upside is beginning to be a bit of a concern: in 135 at-bats between the GCL and ABL he has yet to hit a triple or a home run (he has seven doubles).

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