SYDNEY, 29 August - A contingent of five ABL imports are headed to the prestigious Arizona Fall League to showcase their skills with and against some of the best prospects in Minor League Baseball, it was announced this week. Former Sydney Blue Sox outfielder Tyler Collins, Adelaide Bite pitcher Brandon Maurer, Canberra Cavalry outfielders Todd Glaesmann and Kenny Wilson, and Perth Heat first baseman Michael Ohlman were named to AFL preliminary rosters for the league’s 2013 season.
Entering its 21st year, the Arizona Fall League is the premier Stateside offseason destination for minor leaguers. Made up of six teams, each of those with five MLB affiliations, players are selected by their parent clubs to compete in the star-laden circuit. Past players to take part in AFL play include Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper.
Tampa Bay Rays prospect Glaesmann and Toronto Blue Jays prospect Wilson will be teammates in the AFL just as they were in Canberra during the 2011/12 ABL season. Both will play as part of the Salt River Rafters, the Arizona Fall League affiliate of the Rays, Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies. Glaesmann has held down centre field for the Rays’ Double-A affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, and has batted .239 over the course of 127 games in the Southern League this season. Wilson has ascended to Double-A for the first time in his career, as well, and is carrying a .267 average over 50 games for the Eastern League’s New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
During their time with the Cavalry, Glaesmann batted .310 in 22 games, bashing three home runs while Wilson played in 44 contests and registered a .253 average with four homers and 28 runs scored.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Maurer, the only one of this year’s contingent to have already made his major league debut, is headed to the Peoria Javelinas, AFL club of the M’s, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Diego Padres. The right-hander pitched for Adelaide during the ABL’s inaugural 2010/11 season, going 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in nine starts and turning in a memorable postseason performance at Sydney. For the Mariners this year, he’s pitched both in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen and compiled a 4-7 record with a 6.58 ERA. Maurer has also recorded ten appearances for Triple-A Tacoma this season, as well.
Former Blue Sox All-Star Collins is a fast riser in the Detroit Tigers organisation and is being rewarded with an AFL assignment to the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, and Washington Nationals. Collins is one of the top outfield prospects in the Tigers system and has played the entirety of this season at Double-A Erie, batting .239 in 122 games with 18 home runs, fifth-most in the Eastern League, and 74 runs batted in. For Sydney in 2011/12, Collins excelled, batting .298 in 43 games and being named to the World roster for the first ABL All-Star Game.
Heat catcher and first baseman Ohlman is in the midst of a breakout season for the Class A Advanced Frederick Keys, batting .307 in 94 games and twice being named Carolina League Player of the Week. The Baltimore Orioles prospect was a mainstay in Perth’s order during 2012/13, pulling in a .317 average in 43 games and helping to lead his team to their third consecutive ABL Championship Series.
In addition to Gregorius and Lutz, Perth catcher Matt Kennelly and former Cavalry outfielder Kevin Kiermaier took part in 2012 Arizona Fall League action, and each is now one step below the major leagues in Triple-A; Kennelly in the Cincinnati system and Kiermaier with the Rays.
The ABL opens play on its fourth season on 31 October in the nation’s capital when the Canberra Cavalry host the Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah Ballpark. Tickets and memberships are on sale now for all six ABL member clubs.