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Heat Deal Helping Arms To Canberra For Asia Series
Exposure on the international stage could pave the way to the Big Leagues
11/14/2013 11:10 AM ET
Brendan Wise and Mike Ekstrom join the Canberra Cavalry charge into Taiwan
Brendan Wise and Mike Ekstrom join the Canberra Cavalry charge into Taiwan (James Woosha Worsfold SMP-ABL and Ryan Schembri SMP-ABL)

PERTH, 13 November - The Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat knew months ago that they would not make the return trip to the 2013 Asian Series for a third straight year. That fate was sealed last February when the Canberra Cavalry punched their ticket to the November event by capturing the 2013 Claxton Shield from the back to back champions from Western Australia. The Heat and their fans had looked forward to once again being invited to the showcase of the best professional baseball clubs in Oceania as a reward for being the champions of Australia.

The Heat will not make an appearance when the tournament begins on Friday, 15 November yielding to the club that ACT fans affectionately called #charge during their run last season on social media. Yet, in a major way the Heat will still be in the Asia series this year as the club has loaned out two pitchers to help bolster the Canberra roster. The Heat will send WA product Brendan Wise and new import Mike Ekstrom both right handed pitchers with the hope that they can lend a helping arm for the game in Australia and at the same time help their careers.

The ABL champion Canberra Cavalry will face a difficult challenge in the round robin format playing against a field that includes the champions of the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Korean Professional Baseball League, Nippon Baseball League and this season the European Champions from Italy. There are few tournaments that rival the Asia Series ranking right up there with the Caribbean Series played in Latin America every year. Just how hard of a challenge will it be for Canberra? Consider the Heat as Australian Champions have gone 0-5 in their previous two trips to the event the teams are that good. Add to that the fact that Australia team will be playing in front of crowds in excess of 20,000 mostly cheering against them.

With such a high level of talent on hand this is also a great way to gather attention of the always present Major League Baseball scouts who now work hard in the region to stockpile talent within their respective organizations. For young players trying to make a name for themselves and get discovered to veteran players like Wise and Ekstrom who have had success at a high level this tournament is a great way to show that they are ready for another shot with a MLB club.

Wise with nine years spent with the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins organizations this is just the kind of opportunity that can get him back to the professional ranks in the USA. Last winter Wise took his trade to the Netherlands following his stint with Team Australia in the World Baseball Classic. Wise was one step away from a Major League call up in both 2011 and 2012 were he worked over 100 combined innings at AAA Toledo for the Tigers and Rochester for the Twins. Some quality work in front of major league scouts could pave the way for Wise to reach the ultimate goal of reaching the Major Leagues joining fellow players from WA Luke Hughes and Liam Hendriks to wear a Big League uniform.

Ekstrom an Oregon native is in a similar situation of exposure by making the trip to the Asia Series. So far the move to the ABL looks to be paying off as Ekstrom has had a solid start to the 2013-2014 season at 2-0 and an ERA of 0.64. The right hander is only two years removed from time in the big leagues and spent last season in the USA at the second highest level of the game at AAA with the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clubs in the Pacific Coast League. If scouts like what they see Ekstrom could be back in the show where he spent parts of five seasons.

Both players will provide veteran depth and quality pitching tested on some of the highest levels of the world baseball stage. It is a great trade off to help the Australian Baseball League grow the game on the international stage while possibly benefitting the duo in their personal quest. This exposure could in turn also open the door for more players that are home grown like Wise. The scouts of the game have to figure if there is one quality arm in Australia then there has to be two? But Heat fans need not worry as the WA native Wise and import Ekstrom are temporary team members of the Canberra Cavalry this week. When the wheels are up and they head back to Australia next week they will join the rest of their Perth teammates in a quest to unseat Canberra and guarantee that all of the Heat players will get the same exposure next season with the 2014 Asia Series.

This year the 2013 Asia Series will take place takes place from 15 to 20 November 2013 in Taiwan at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium and Taoyuan International stadium. The champions of Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Italy will square off in the top regional club tournament in the Oceania region rivaled only by the Caribbean Series in Latin America.

Dan Vaughan is the "Voice of the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat" and co-host of Talking Baseball Australia one of only two shows on baseball in Australia and co-founder of TBA. He can be found on Twitter at @DanVaughtwitter or @tbaustralia. This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.