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Kiwis Worldwide: June 2016

Posted by on in Baseball New Zealand
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Winter has well and truly settled in so time to update you on our Kiwi players from around the world and what they’re up to on diamonds across the world.

Holdzkom-e1460416117529A couple of months ago, former Pittsburgh Pirates and Diamondblacks pitcher John Holdzkom signed a deal to join the Chicago White Sox and he appears to be on the path back to the majors soon. John has been working out at Chicago’s Arizona base over the last two months in Extended Spring Training while building his arm strength after a series of issues in 2015. He has been pushing through a number of rehab protocols and expects to be sent to one of the White Sox minor league affiliates by the end of June.

Diamondblacks pitcher Nick Maronde is also on the up again after an early season Maronde Columbusinjury hampered his progress at Cleveland Indians AAA affiliate Columbus Clippers—after just three games where he’d picked up a save and given up just one run on five hits and five walks for a 1.80 ERA. Since being activated Nick has been pitching for the Akron Rubberducks, the Indians AA team. In 11 games for the Ducks he has an ERA of 1.69 and 11 strikeouts, giving up just two earned runs on 12 hits over 10.2 innings of work.

Max MissoulaReturning to Arizona, Diamondbacks and Diamondblacks outfielder Max Brown has exploded out of the blocks for the Missoula Ospreys in the rookie Pioneer League after working hard in extended spring training at the D’backs Salt River Fields complex. In his first three games Max is batting .444, going 4 for 9 with a triple, RBI and two runs, posting an incredible 1.282 OPS. Max had a solid 2015 rookie campaign with the D’backs in the Arizona Rookie League, batting .265 with 36 hits including five triples and four doubles in 38 games and his work in the off season has obviously paid dividends.

Baseball New Zealand’s Lincoln Holdzkom International Player of the Year and Diamondblacks pitcher Jimmy Boyce has had a huge 2016 already and it’s only June. After picking up the win against the Philippines for the Diamondblacks at February’s World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Sydney, he had a high school suspension hanging Jimmy Boyceover his head, but thanks to common sense being showed by the Washington State High School Sports Authority, the decision was successfully appealed and Boyce had a superb spring season. He finished as conference Player of the Year and picked up all-star team honours at Pitcher and third base for his Mt Si High School team, as well as Seattle player of the year in the top city newspaper.

Matt ReevesNew Zealand U21 representative Matt Reeves is having a great season with his Clarendon College team in Division One of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 5 in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC), where they currently sit fourth. Freshman Matt has played outfield in 44 of 55 games Clarendon has played and is putting an excellent record together, batting .327 with two triples, nine doubles, 54 runs and 29 RBI. Clarendon College is based in Texas and sits in the backyard of the NCAA Big 10 conference, feeding such high profile schools as Oklahoma State University, Texas A & M and Texas Tech.

In Kansas, New Zealand U21 corner infielder Scott Drinkwater is back playing after an injury plagued 2014/15 at Avila University in Kansas. Scott missed the whole spring/summer 2015 season after he broke his hand five days before he was supposed to begin his first seasonscott drinkwater 18 mba with Avila and he played last summer in San Francisco for the Bay Area Tides before heading back to Kansas. The Junior, who is majoring in Finance and has played in 24 games so far this season, hitting a couple of home runs and four doubles.

Mitchell Gray is looking forward to a busy season with Trinidad State Junior College after red-shirting his freshman year. Mitchell says he has used the year to get stronger and work on his pitching mechanics. This summer he will be playing in a collegiate league in Colorado and will play 36 games in 6 weeks, with kids from across the country who come up for the summer.

In Germany, Diamondblacks Third baseman Daniel Lamb-Hunt is continuing his hot form in the spring portion of the Bundesliga, Germany’s top domestic baseball league.

Lamb Hunt

Now playing in his fifth season with the Bonn Capitals, Daniel is proving to be ‘Mr. Reliable’ at third base and with the bat, too, hitting .383 after 16 games of the 2016 season, with four home runs, five doubles and 19 RBI. Over the recent weekend series against the Sollingen Alligators he hit 4-7 with two doubles and three RBI, striking out just once.

Boss NiigataDiamondblacks slugger and 1st base Boss Moanaroa is finding his feet in his first season playing in Japan for Niigata Albirex in the Independent Baseball Challenge League. After moving there at the beginning of April it has taken time to adapt to the lifestyle and different baseball culture in Japan but Boss said recently: “I've adapted really well, I love the country and the people here are awesome. I have also adapted quite well to the style of baseball here and I’m playing every game mixing between first and DH.” Boss added: “My hitting is going well now, as I started the season off slow but have now found my straps and hitting the ball really well.” Having grown up in Australia and played in the U.S., the game is quite different in Japan, but Boss said the standard is similar to the Australian Baseball League (ABL), with the ABL being consistently stronger on most nights.

Just a few days after Boss Moanaroa confirmed his Japanese stint, fellow Diamondblack Connar O’Gorman secured his own playing opportunity with the Kagawa Olive Guyners in the Independent Shikoku Island League. The catcherConnar Kagawa was based in Germany in 2015, where he played for the Hamburg Stealers and Degendorf Dragons before heading back to Australia to play for ABL runners-up, the Adelaide Bite, where he had a tremendous season for the Bite. O’Gorman is currently back in Australia as his league has a six-week break but is looking forward to build on his steady beginnings in Japan before embarking on another ABL season. While Connar found the going tough early on, he showed huge improvement heading in to the break and will be looking forward to flying back in August to build on his recent momentum with his ball club.

A number of young Kiwis are making huge strides in the game of baseball with their new beginnings in Canada, with Bayside Westhaven Baseball Club and New Zealand U18 pitcher Connor Gleeson in Ontario and Central City Baseball Club U18 outfielder Jake May is living and training in Edmonton before heading to college, and another top Bayside Westhaven pitcher Ben Thompson is continuing to pitch for the Okotoks Dawgs in Edmondton before heading to college in Arizona.

Gleeson OntarioGleeson headed to Ontario in April following a family holiday which featured a visit to Arizona Diamondbacks stadium, Chase Field where he got to meet plenty of D’Backs superstars including Paul Goldschmidt and Patrick Corbin. Connor is playing for the Ontario Royals U18 team, following in the footsteps of two previous Kiwis, Quinten Niu and Matt Boyce under the watchful eye of former New Zealand coach Matt Mills. Gleeson has had two starts with Ontario since his arrival, and in his second start he pitched a seven-inning complete game gem, giving up just two hits and a walk while striking out six. Prior to heading to Ontario, Connor was invited to try out at four junior colleges and after being invited back by three of the four has decided he will sign a letter of intent to play at South Florida State Community College in August, which is situated in Avon Park, approximately 135kms southeast of the Tampa/St Petersburg cities.

National U18 tournament batting title winner Jake May has also headed to Canada recently to work out with the Edmonton Prospects Baseball team, coached by Oceania Coaching Director Ray Brown, who was last in New Zealand for the U18 Oceania Championships in early 2015. Jake is only training with the team but hopes to play the odd pick-up game while in Edmonton before he heads to Houston, Texas to begin the fall semester at Alvin Community College, one of many who are heading to college at the same time.

Ben Thompson 1Diamondblacks squad pitcher Ben Thompson (Glendowie College) is college bound, too, later this winter after another standout stint with the Okotoks Dawgs Academy in Canada, heading to Chandler Gilbert Community College, just outside of Phoenix in Arizona. And Counties Manukau shortstop Jason Matthews (Alfriston College, Auckland) is off to Southeastern Junior College in Iowa to begin his American baseball journey in August. Jason MVPHowever, before his planned departure Jason will be heading to the Major League Baseball Academy on the Gold Coast along with fellow Aucklanders Kyle Glogoski (Howick College, Auckland) from Bayside-Westhaven, Howick-Pakuranga’s Elliott Johnstone (Sacred Heart College) and Correze Nepia (Auckland Grammar).

Christchurch pitcher Matt Boyce is also in the U.S. at College of the Canyons in California, but unfortunately injured his pitching arm during fall baseball at college and by the time it came right the spring season was well underway, so Matt decided to redshirt for the season and retain his full four years of NCAA eligibility. He has concentrated on developing arm strength and worked with the pitching coach on pitching technique and will be back in New Zealand over the summer break to work on fitness and conditioning. Matt heads back to the U.S. in August for his first official junior college baseball games and aims to be an integral part of the college baseball team for the upcoming fall and spring seasons.

Young Diamondblacks pitcher Ben Hughlon is readying himself for another fall season with his West GeorgiaBen Hughlon Technical College. Ben says the team were disappointed with how they finished last season and the team and himself are working hard to make sure they accomplish their goals during the spring. Another teenage pitcher, southpaw Diamondblacks hurler and outfielder Jacob Curry has recently signed a letter of intent to attend Benedictine College in Kansas and will be starting his collegiate journey after playing for New Zealand in February in Sydney. Jacob says he’s raring to go after an injury-plagued last few months and will be in top shape come August when he reports to his new school.

quintenniusmlAnother key New Zealand player who has already begun his college baseball career in the U.S. is catcher Quinten Niu who began his North American baseball life at Ontario with Matt Boyce and has since played a semester at Central Arizona College, former school of Diamondblacks shortstop and former Blue Jay Scott Campbell and former Reds farmhand Randy Yard. Niu has since moved schools after some time back in New Zealand and will be heading to Pima College in Arizona in August.

Well that’s it for now, so keep pitching, hitting, fielding or just following the great game of baseball and I’ll be back soon with another update.

Yours in Baseball,

Ian McDonald


Wedz is yet to hit a auto but hit 2 doubles yesterday one off the green monster and one off centrefield fence with loaded bases (clearing the bases). He also threw a runner out at in the game. This takes him to 8rbi's, 5 walks, 2 sacs and 4 doubles with a .375 Average (9-24) and 1 from 1 on steal attempts against him.
The coaches are really happy with his calling because he has had 24 innings catching so far with 3 runs and calling two 1 hit games as well.every week, we catch up and talk baseball and it seems like he is doing well with the transition."

Wedz is yet to hit a auto but hit 2 doubles yesterday one off the green monster and one off centrefield fence with loaded bases (clearing the bases). He also threw a runner out at in the game. This takes him to 8rbi's, 5 walks, 2 sacs and 4 doubles with a .375 Average (9-24) and 1 from 1 on steal attempts against him.
The coaches are really happy with his calling because he has had 24 innings catching so far with 3 runs and calling two 1 hit games as well.na every week, we catch up and talk baseball and it seems like he is doing well with the transition."

Wedz is yet to hit a auto but hit 2 doubles yesterday one off the green monster and one off centrefield fence with loaded bases (clearing the bases). He also threw a runner out at in the game. This takes him to 8rbi's, 5 walks, 2 sacs and 4 doubles with a .375 Average (9-24) and 1 from 1 on steal attempts against him.
The coaches are really happy with his calling because he has had 24 innings catching so far with 3 runs and calling two 1 hit games as well.

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