Kiwis Worldwide: May 2015
It's Championship time for many North American college and high school teams and plenty of Kiwi Baseballers are featuring in these high pressure series over the next few weeks.
Yes I am still here and I know I haven't written an update in a while, but there's so much going on around the world with our Kiwi's on the diamonds, so time to let you know what's been happening.
After a productive spring training on the mound for New Zealand Diamondblacks pitcher John Holdzkom with Pittsburgh Pirates, he was designated to Triple-A Indianapolis Indians to begin 2015 and so far has pitched fairly well. Just one outing when he gave up a few runs has distorted John's stats and having now pitched in 12 games (the most for any Indianapolis pitcher) has a 1-0 record with 2 saves and an ERA of 5.56. John is currently on the 7-day Disabled List with arm fatigue. We're all hopeful that John can maintain his form and return to the Big Show (MLB) with Pittsburgh soon.
New Zealand's other MLB hopeful is Wellingtons Te Wera (Beau) Bishop who is getting plenty of game time in Milwaukee Brewers extended spring training after being signed in February by then Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke who was in the country assisting our programme. By all accounts Beau is working hard on his game and has had good feedback from his coaches on his progress.
Prior to the 2014 NCAA Baseball season getting underway, Makauley Fox's Oregon State University (OSU) and Max Brown's Kansas State University were both ranked amongst some of the best college baseball programmes in the country, so expectations were high for both in 2015.
Diamondblacks pitcher Mak (ACG College, Parnell) is now a sophomore at Oregon State and has pitched well in relief so far in 2015. In 8 appearances for the Beavers, Mak has pitched 6 innings, collecting a save on the way to an outstanding ERA of just 1.50, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits over the season. Oregon State currently sit 2nd in Pac-12 standings and have just one more series against Cal State before the play offs begin. OSU roughly need to make the top 4 in Pac-12 and are currently 19th overall, with a top 16 position meaning they will host their first play off opponents.
Fellow Diamondblack, outfielder Max Brown (Bellevue College, Washington) has been in great form to this year for the Kansas State University Wildcats and celebrated that success by being named the Big-12 player of the week in April, a huge honour for the senior in his last year at College. With the regular season coming to a close in the next two weeks, Kansas State sit 6th in Big 12 standings, while Max is hitting .273 with 30 RBI from his 50 hits and an outstanding .990 fielding percentage from the outfield. Congratulations to Max for his player of the week title and good luck in the next stage of your baseball career.
A couple of Aucklanders have been achieving great success in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division 2 competition, with Luke Hansen (Pakuranga College, Auckland) and Daniel Bradley (St Peters College, Auckland) both winning their respective regional season titles.
Luke's Scottsdale Community College Artichokes came from behind in the three game finals series against Phoenix College to win the series 2-1 to claim the Region I, Div 2 title, winning the decisive game three by 10 to 4. As a freshman with the Artichokes, Luke played in just under half of the teams games, with 11 hits in 56 at bats with 7 walks.
Meanwhile, fellow Aucklander Daniel Bradley's North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) Trojans out lasted Southwestern Community College in the Region XI Division 2 play offs shutting them out in the final game, winning 7-nil, after winning the first game in the series 12-7 earlier in the day. Daniel starred with the bat for the Trojans finishing with a .362 average, hitting 11 home runs and collecting a mammoth 58 RBI in 59 games. To add to his already glowing baseball resume Daniel is now the all-time hits leader for the Trojans with 139 hits in his two seasons there. He finished top-10 in conference in runs scored (30), triples (1), and home runs (9), and was named to the NJCAA Region XI first-team, the ICCAC batter of the week this week, and will be heading to the NJCAA Division II World Series with his team. This is Daniel's last year at NIACC and he is headed to study and play his baseball at Missouri Baptist University in St Louis next year.
Australian based Kiwi catcher/infielder Connar O'Gorman is now playing his baseball in Germany for the Hamburg Stealers. After a slow start to the season for the Stealers, losing their first six games, they've staged a comeback to get their season back on track with three straight wins. Connar has caught all 9 games so far and is picking up his hitting after his own slow personal start to baseball life in Europe.
After an impressive 21U Baseball World Cup in Taiwan, Scott Drinkwater (St Kentigern College, Auckland) was looking forward to beginning life at Avila University in Kansas. But in the final pre-season game Scott broke a bone in his hand just 5 days before the season started, meaning no baseball for him. He's since had surgery on the hand to remove bone fragments and is now back in San Francisco to play for the Bay Area Tides club over the next three months and will hopefully be back in action for Avila next spring. Without him, Avila made it to the play-offs, but got knocked out in the conference tournament.
Former Howick-Pakuranga infielder Nick Koh (Elim Christian College, Auckland & City College of San Francisco) has been starring for his Indiana Wesleyan University team in his first year at the school and is the top player in the NAIA in fielding with an outstanding .990 fielding percentage. In 36 games, Nicks been steady at the plate, with a .193 average with a good on base average of .319, with 3 RBI and 11 runs. Unfortunately the Wildcats were eliminated from the Crossroads League Tournament on Monday afternoon following a 9-4 loss to No. 2-seed Huntington (Ind.) at Forest Glen Field in Huntington, Indiana. No. 6-seed Indiana Wesleyan opened the tournament on Saturday at No. 3-seed Spring Arbor (Mich.) and lost 5-3. The four teams in the Huntington Bracket converged on Huntington on Monday where Indiana Wesleyan was eliminated by the host team. The Wildcats finished their regular season at the end of April with a 24-28 record.
National 18U starting pitcher Ben Thompson has linked up with Diamondblacks pitcher Jamie Wilson's former club in Canada, the Okotoks Dawgs, on a high school scholarship, while fellow 18U Canterbury pitcher Matthew Boyce and New Zealand 21U slugger Quinten Niu are also in Canada to play in a leading summer baseball league with the Ontario Royals linking up with former New Zealand Baseball coach Matt Mills as a precursor to college baseball in America. All three have had good starts to their stints in Canada with both Ben and Matt recording wins for their respective teams while Quinten has already picked up a few hits early in the season.
Fellow New Zealand 18U batting stars Cooper Hutchinson (Mt Albert Grammar School, Auckland) from Central City Baseball Club and Counties shortstop Jason Matthews (Alfriston College, Auckland) are heading to the European Major League Baseball Academy in the Netherlands, while six others, Auckland-based Jordan Hoskings (St Kentigern College, Auckland), Connor Gleeson (Glendowie College, Auckland), Matt Thomas (Glendowie College, Auckland) and Kyle Glogoski (Howick College, Auckland) from Bayside-Westhaven, Howick-Pakuranga's Dylan Irwin (Botany Downs Secondary College) as well as Wellington-based outfielder Siona Gray (Porirua College, Wellington), will join the MLB Academy on the Gold Coast of Australia in August of this year.
I caught up with Cooper recently and asked him about going to the academy, "Travelling to the other side of the world to link up with some of the world's best age grade players and top level MLB coaches is a stunning opportunity" he said, adding "An opportunity such as this is unparalleled in sport in this country."
Cooper said that having someone with him like "Jason (Matthews), who is a good friend, will make the experience so much better as going to the other side of the world can be daunting on your own and we will both be in the ideal position to learn more about the sport and help us both improve our own game."
Another four young kiwi ballplayers are in Northern California at the Napa Valley Community College. Hamish Witters (Kings College, Auckland), Jack Malcolm (Auckland Grammar School) and Oliver and Thomas Weaver (Macleans College, Auckland) are all gaining valuable baseball experience.
In August, five young Aucklanders will get the trip of a lifetime to Chiba, Japan, for the World Children's Baseball Fair. The event was founded in 1989 by baseball home run kings Sadaharu Oh and Hank Aaron, along with Dr Akiko Agishi. The mission of the organization is, "to share the dream of friendship and teamwork with the children of the world and to sow the seeds of that dream through an international baseball fair".
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