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2013 Academy underway on the Gold Coast
48-game schedule begins under Australia manager Deeble
07/18/2013 1:01 PM ET
Queenslander Sam Beattie is one of this year's full-term attendees.
Queenslander Sam Beattie is one of this year's full-term attendees. (SMP Images)
SYDNEY, 18 July - The Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program (MLBAAP), run in partnership with the Australian Baseball Federation (ABF) for six weeks during the Australian winter, began its 13th season this week.  From 12 July - 24 Aug, some 77 of the top young baseball players, primarily from Australia and New Zealand, will attend, competing in a 48-game schedule under the instruction of Australian National Team Coach and Boston Red Sox International Scout Jon Deeble. 
          At least 11 of the players have already signed with Major League clubs and are attending the Academy to begin their professional careers.  These include: Jake Bowey (West Australia, Houston Astros), Jared Cruz (Victoria, Atlanta Braves), Nick Hutchings (South Australia, Pittsburgh Pirates), Karl Hoschke (New South Wales, Atlanta Braves), Sam Kennelly (West Australia, Pittsburgh Pirates), Connor MacDonald (Queensland, Houston Astros), Dakota Mitchell (South Australia, Cincinnati Reds), James Philibossian (New South Wales, Detroit Tigers), Zac Shepherd (New South Wales, Detroit Tigers), Ben Shorto (West Australia, Cleveland Indians) and Hayden Timberlake (Queensland, Houston Astros). 
          Held at Palm Meadows Baseball Complex on Queensland’s Gold Coast since 2001, the Academy aims to improve the quantity and quality of young baseball players coming out of the region and over the past 13 years the number of Australians and New Zealanders playing professional and collegiate baseball has increased 40 percent.  In 2000, there were 48 professional and 32 collegiate players; in the 2012 season there were 76 Australians and New Zealanders active with Major League and other professional league teams including 69 Academy graduates.  Six graduates have made it to the Major League level: pitcher Rich Thompson (NSW, debuted with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2007), infielder Brad Harman (Victoria, debuted with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008), infielder Luke Hughes (West Australia, debuted with the Minnesota Twins in 2010), pitcher Josh Spence (Victoria, debuted with the San Diego Padres in 2011), pitcher Shane Lindsay (Victoria, debuted with the Chicago White Sox in 2011) and pitcher Liam Hendriks (West Australia, debuted with the Minnesota Twins in 2011).
          While most participants are native to Australia, each year MLB clubs also send recently signed European and Asian players to the Academy to prepare them for the rigors of Minor League Baseball.  A total of 201 Academy graduates have signed professional contracts with MLB clubs, these include 34 players with nationalities other than Australian (seven Czechs, five New Zealanders, four Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese, two South Africans and Americans and one each of Chinese, Dutch, American, French, German and Italian.) 
          This Academy was the first of its kind and has served as a model for other MLB Academies now operating in Tirrenia, Italy (est. 2005) and Wuxi, China (est. 2007).

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.