ABL Round One:   We Know What We Don't Know

AJ Mithen

16 November 2017

 

Predicting round one of any sporting season is fraught with danger, but acting like you know what will happen in the early stages of an Australian Baseball League season is especially risky.

 

There’s plenty we don’t know – there’s no exposed form to track, trying to compare with previous seasons or statistics is pointless (but I’ll still do it) and every club has told us they’re coming off a great pre-season with local players ready to explode and a selection of imports primed to deliver hitting/catching/pitching as appropriate.

 

What we DO know is that the six Australian Managers have assembled six quality rosters and that we are in for a treat at ballparks around the country this summer.

 

Let’s take a look at our long awaited week one matchups.

 

We’re keen to get your thoughts on what will happen in week one. Let us know on the Australian Baseball Alumni FACEBOOK page. To ridicule these previews, to make suggestions or to offer information, visit @AJMithen on Twitter.

 

BRISBANE BANDITS verus CANBERRA CAVALRY (Holloway Field)

 

Game 1:      Thursday 6.30pm local time                                                     ABL TV

Game 2:      Friday 6.30pm local time                                                          ABL TV                              

Game 3/4:  Saturday double header 3.30pm & 6.30pm local time          ABL TV       ABL TV

 

The Cavs head to Brisbane in Round One for the second straight season. We are assured there’s no substance to rumours they were introducing themselves to each other on the flight up, after Manager Michael Collins and some players arrived barely a week before the series opener.

 

They’re welcomed to season 17/18 by a Bandits club that looks prepared, looks organised and maybe most importantly, looks hungry for an historic third straight ABL championship.

 

The talent Dave Nilsson and the team have amassed at Holloway Field may well be even better than last year’s roster. It’s been great to see the flow of player announcements, videos and articles from the club. Most other team’s fans can only look on and think how good it would be if their team tried something like that.

 

It would appear Canberra have taken a more relaxed approach to season 17/18. They didn’t bother to tweet between May and August and even then, they tweeted for a month about Didi Gregorius.

 

But there is some talent to keep an eye on in the nation’s capital. Cam Warner is a player fans will want to watch, Ryan Kalish brings quality, the Perkins brothers are proven commodities and it will be fun to see the Cavs infield go about its business.

 

Prediction: Bandits sweep

 

Brisbane are just stacked with hitters. If you get Aaron Whitefield, TJ Bennett strolls out. Get around him and you’ve got Chih-Sheng Lin (Ake), Mitch Nilsson or Donald Lutz, who love nothing more than hitting you as far as they can.

 

Containing the Bandits lineup is going to be a nightmare for opposing Managers and it will be too much for Canberra this weekend.

 

MELBOURNE ACES versus PERTH HEAT (Melbourne Ballpark)

 

Game 1:      Friday 7.30pm local time

Game 2/3:  Saturday double header: 5.00 pm & 7.30pm local time

Game 4:     Sunday 1.00 pm local time                                                    ABL TV

 

Andy Kyle takes his Perth squad to Melbourne to face an Aces team which expects to figure at the pointy end of the season.

 

After watching his hitters finish with somewhat of a whimper last year, Aces boss Jon Deeble was on the hunt for more bats and from first glance it seems he’s got them. Home fans (and the Heat rotation) should get their first look at Delmon Young and Brett Cumberland, who along with the reliable power of Allan De San Miguel will seek to capitalise on the work of the Dale brothers, Jared Cruz, Darryl George and Seibu Lions import Tomoya Mori.

 

Perth’s core of developing young Aussie talent is augmented by Tampa Bay imports Garrett Whitley, Zac Law and Mike Brousseau. An early test against one of the ABL’s best pitching staff will give us a good picture of where the Heat are at.

 

There’s no doubt Kyle is gearing his side for a tilt at the postseason and this series might just give the men from the west some good foundations to build on.

 

Prediction: Aces 3-1

 

I say 3-1 here, but it’s a 3-1 that won’t reflect a very closely fought series. Perth have good things on the horizon and will fancy themselves to sneak an upset, but I’m banking that the Aces will be able to contain them this weekend.

 

SYDNEY BLUE SOX versus ADELAIDE BITE (Blacktown International Sportspark)

 

Game 1:       Friday 7.30pm local time

Game 2/3:   Saturday double header: 3.30pm & 6.30pm local time       ABL TV

Game 4:      Sunday 1.00 pm local time

 

Opening week’s most intriguing matchup sees Tony Harris return to ABL management against rookie Adelaide boss Chris Adamson.

 

Harris and Adamson have two good, solid squads. Sydney have improved their roster and bring a new, gritty mindset while Adelaide have put the work in the bank as they look to go one week further into the postseason.

 

Both sides have pitching staff that need to be respected, with Adelaide’s Max Beatty and Jack O’Loughlin two tough matchups for the Blue Sox to crack. Sydney’s imports Chiang Chih-hsie, Jin-De Jhang and Michael Suchy bring good hitting reputations, but they’ll have to live up to them if the team wants to make the improvement they’re looking for.

 

With so much hitting potential on both sides it’s crucial that bullpens are able to stay in control. The Bite have a reliable weapon in fan favourite Matt Williams, who is able to work any situation. Tyler Chappell also returns and Adamson will be looking for him to keep a hold on things in the mid to late innings.

 

Todd Grattan and Vaughan Harris bring experienced arms for the Blue Sox and there’s an outside chance we’ll see some work from 18 year old Kyle Glogoski, who has played for NSW at under 16 and 18 level, but is classed as an import because he was born in New Zealand...

 

Prediction: Split 2-2

 

This should be a great series and it will be interesting to see how a revamped Blue Sox lineup goes against the Bite’s pitching staff. If you get the chance, get yourself to Blacktown or make sure you watch the 6.30 Saturday game on the ABL stream.