Australia made it all the way through the fifth World Baseball Classic held at the beginning of the year. Although it finally stopped in the quarterfinals, its seventh-place finish was its best ever. David Nilsson, who was in charge of the team, played an even greater role, and he will also lead the team. The team competes in the AFC Champions League, which will be held again after 6 years. This is also the first time Australia has participated in this event. David Nilssonn emphasized: “We don’t just want to participate, but we want to win.”
Two wild cards have been used to strengthen the pitching lineup. There are only three left-handers, which is a hidden concern.
The Australian team roster for this AFC Champions League is a temporary selection selected from a roster of 130 people. 8 players in the lineup have participated in the classic game at the beginning of the year. More than 18 players have experience in the United States, including major league players. Aaron Whitefield is eligible to enter as a wild card. The other two wild card players, Dan McGrath and Sam Holland, are both pitchers with more than five years of minor league experience. They are also players for the Australian team in this year’s classic. Left pitcher Dan McGrath was once a minor league player for the Boston Red Sox. Currently playing for the Melbourne Aces of the ABL, in the 2022-23 season, Dan McGrath started as a reliever and ran 2 wide. He scored 3 wins, 4 losses and 5 saves in 12 games. He is a pitcher who can afford long innings.
Sam Holland, a former minor leaguer for the Los Angeles Angels, is a pitcher with an action similar to that of CITIC brother Li Zhenchang. In the last ABL season, he recorded 5 wins and 1 loss in 15 games and won the league’s winning pitching title. He once struck out Korean batters with a 90-mile changeup in the 5th World Baseball Classic. He was hailed by the Australian media as the best and most stable pitcher in the ABL.
There are 13 Australian pitchers, and there are only 3 left-handers. In addition to the previously mentioned Dan McGrath, Will Sherriff, who is only 21 years old, is already a third-year student in the ABL. He was a hitter with the Perth Heat last season. After playing mainly in games, he was selected by the coach as the starting pitcher against Japan in the Classic this year. He only pitched 0.2 innings and gave up 3 runs before leaving the game. These 3 runs were sniped by Shohei Ohtani, and he hit 1. The high change-up ball resulted in a 3-point shot, but he later struck out Kazuma Okamoto and regained the victory. He mostly used change-up balls to fight batters, and the fastest speedball was only 140 kilometers.
Another left-hander is Ben Walmsley, who is currently playing for the Cincinnati Reds in the rookie league. He has played in 11 games and started 7 games this season, with a record of 0 wins and 4 losses, and an ERA of 6.10. At only 19 years old, he still needs A rookie who has been practicing a lot.
As for the right-hand pitcher, Brodie Cooper, who just graduated from the NCAA first-level school Grand Canyon University, has started 18 games this year, has an ERA of 3.95, and averages 1.39 strikeouts per inning. He is a strikeout-type pitcher. In terms of strength and experience, Said, there is a good chance to take on the starting task for one game.
Kai-Noa Wynyard, who has performed brilliantly in the high-level 1A this year, has pitched 41.2 innings, 1 win, 2 losses, 1 save, and an ERA of 2.38. He is a bullpen pitcher that Australia can rely on. Interestingly, he and the Chinese team also In the 2019 U18 World Cup, when he was a reliever, he gave up 3 hits in 0.1 innings of pitching and sent out 3 bad balls. He scored 6 points and left the game sadly. If we encounter him again in this AFC Champions League, It will be a big topic. Yue Zhenghua and Lin Wu Jinwei are both in the U18 lineup.
In the classic match, Australia’s long-term hitting power cannot be underestimated.
Australia was able to achieve 7th place in this year’s Classic, and the performance of the line was also a key factor. The team’s slugging percentage ranked 7th, and the team hit 7 home runs, tied for 3rd with South Korea and Venezuela. It can be seen from this that, Australia’s long-range artillery fire is quite fierce. Among them, the leading first baseman Rixon Wingrove surrendered 16 hits and 6 hits in the Classic, with a batting average of 0.375. In the quarterfinals, he even hit a 2-run shot against Cuban pitcher Roenis Elías. The most consistent hitter in Australia’s lineup.
Alex Hall, who played as a designated hitter in the Classics, plays as a catcher and currently plays for the ABL Perth Heat. In the 2022-23 season, Alex Hall surrendered 139 at-bats and 50 hits, including 8 home runs. , with a batting average of 0.360 and an attack index of 1.066. Such an excellent batting performance also made him selected as the ABL’s Most Valuable Player of the Year. When playing against Japan in the preliminaries of the Classic, he still faced Hiroyuki Takahashi’s 154-kilometer fast ball. He is a slugger who can hit right field. Although the coach puts him at No. 2, his slugging ability that can sink the ball with one hit cannot be ignored.
Aaron Whitefield, who joined as a wild card, has been promoted to the major leagues for the second time. He is a center fielder that the Australian team has relied on in recent years. He is fast and has a wide range of movement. He had 4 hits in 13 at-bats and a batting average of 0.308 in this year’s Classic. He also stole 2 bases, scored a hit in the 2nd World Top 12 game against the United States, and scored a winning RBI. With rich national team qualifications, he is bound to be given the important responsibility of leading the team.
Compared with the previous three who are all main starters of the national team, infielder Liam Spence, who was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the fifth round of the draft, was only a bench player in the Classic. The only game he played was the Australia-Japan War. , Australia, which had lost to Japan by 7 points in the first 5 games, asked him to take over the field in the 5th game. He had 0 hits in 2 games, but he can guard in all 4 positions in the infield, so he will be very useful to the coach. A living chess piece.
Australian hitters are mostly players from the minor league system and are quite active and explosive in attack. However, whether they can cope with Japanese and Korean pitchers who are sharper in changing pitches will be the key to whether they can advance to the finals.
The rapid development of Australian baseball in recent years has also given them a certain degree of competitiveness in the international arena. In this AFC Champions League, they are targeting the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics and subsequent major competitions to cultivate available players for the national team. The Australian team General manager Russ Teichmann pointed out: “This team is composed of players who have participated in Classics and World Cups. We expect them to perform well and aim to become the best team in the world.”
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In the first game of the AFC Champions League, Australia will face the South Korean team, which is based on the Hangzhou Asian Games gold medal team. The second and third games will be against Taiwan and Japan respectively. After a round-robin, the two teams with the best results will compete in the gold medal match.
Head Coach: David Nilsson
Coaching staff: James Bennett, Graeme Lloyd, Trent Durrington, Shayne Watson, Damian Shanahan
Matthew Beattie (Melbourne Ace)
Kieren Hall (Perth Heat)
Dylan Clarke (Sydney Blue Sox)
Ky Hampton (Adelaide Giants)
Will Sherriff (Melbourne Ace)
Brodie Cooper-Vassalakis (Brisbane Rogue)
Coen Wynne (Sydney Blue Sox)
Kai-Noa Wynyard (Brisbane Rogue)
Ben Walmsley (Brisbane Rogue)
Jack Bushell (Adelaide Giants)
Billy Parsons (Canberra Troopers)
*Samuel Holland (Brisbane Rogue)
*Daniel McGrath (Melbourne Ace)
Catcher: (3 people)
Alex Hall (Perth Heat)
Mitchell Edwards (Canberra Cavalry)
Jake Burns (Sydney Blue Sox)
Infielders: (5 people)
Clayton Campbell (Sydney Blue Sox)
Jarryd Dale (Melbourne Ace)
Luke Smith (Brisbane Rogue)
Rixon Wingrove (Adelaide Giants)
Liam Spence (Adelaide Giants)
Outfielders: (3 people)
Alex Skepton (Brisbane Rogue)
Briley Knight (Adelaide Giants)
*Aaron Whitefield (Melbourne Ace)
Toolman: (2 people)
Christopher Burke (Melbourne Ace)
Jesse Williams (Perth Heat)
Note: According to the regulations of the conference, the right of replacement is still reserved before the head coach meeting.
Note 2:*as a wild card player
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