MELBOURNE, VIC -- It's almost time for the best baseball in the Southern Hemisphere to light up the Melbourne sky. The Australian Baseball League is proud to announce the rosters and event information for the 2016 ABL All-Star Game presented by Boral.
Highlighting the World All-Stars roster is recent Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces signee Jeremy Guthrie, who is arguably the highest-profile baseballer ever to play in the ABL. Guthrie started in two games of the 2014 MLB World Series for the Kansas City Royals, including the series-deciding Game 7. Guthrie will be joined by another former MLB star on the World All-Stars roster. Mark Hamburger made his MLB debut in 2011 and has had one of the most dominant starts to an ABL campaign in recent times. Hamburger's numbers speak for themselves this year: a 3-0 record, ERA of 1.00 and three earned runs conceded from 27 innings of work.
Atlanta Braves prospect Acuna has been the lynchpin for the first-place Aces this season at the tender age of 18, with an outstanding batting average of .356 (4th in the ABL), while claiming 13 RBIs (T-4th in the ABL) and stealing a league-leading 11 bases.
A constant in the heart of the SA Power Networks Adelaide Bite lineup, Texas Rangers prospect Altmann has been a measure of consistency, with the 22 year old claiming fourteen hits in his last ten games, and tying with Acuna for most hits (21) through the first four weeks of the season. Altmann has also driven in 10 runs this season, and is a constant threat to opposition pitching staffs.
For Team Australia, this All-Star Game looms as one of the most important in recent memory, as the national team finalise preparations for the biggest international baseball tournament on the calendar, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. Team Australia's draw at the WBC has been finalised, with the world-famous Tokyo Dome the venue for round one of the tournament.
"We're treating the game as a very important part of our selection process for the WBC," Team Australia manager Jon Deeble said.
"We're planning to trim the list down from 50 to 35 as soon as possible. We still need to test some combinations out, and with the selection panel in place, we've got everything in place to select the best 28 guys to give us every chance to perform in Japan next year."
Australia's roster for the All-Star game is a mix of youth and experience, with two former MLB stars, and two Team Australia debutants.
Deeble is placing a lot of emphasis on this All-Star Game as an ideal tune-up before the WBC.
"This is a great opportunity to see guys that we're looking at for the World Baseball Classic team," Deeble said.
"The young guys on this team really have the chance to impress in national colours, and even though it's a small sample size, I'm excited to see how they perform. Guys like Josh Guyer and Kyle Perkins have been fantastic in the ABL this season, and we're excited to see them in the green and gold."
Josh Guyer and Kyle Perkins will represent Team Australia for the first time, with Guyer recently returning from the U23 World Cup, where as well as claiming a silver medal, the right handed CompassMarkets.com Sydney Blue Sox reliever also claimed a spot on the World All-Star team after some fantastic performances from the bullpen. Guyer has claimed a win and a save in the 2016/17 season with his ERA sitting at an impressive 2.25.
Perkins has let his numbers do the talking this year, and based on his form, was a must-pick for Deeble's team. The Canberra native's average this year is currently sitting at .354, which is good for 5th in the league. After a tough 2015/16 campaign, Perkins has been rewarded for his red-hot start to the 2016 season, and will keen to impress before the World Baseball Classic squad is named in early 2017.
Joining the ABL's own Andrew Reynolds in the commentary box for the All-Star Game will be former MLB representative and Baseball Australia Hall of Famer Micheal Nakamura. Nakamura had a distinguished international career, representing Team Australia at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games as well as spending time in the MLB for the Minnesota Twins in 2003.
For those wishing to tune in to one of the ABL's flagship events, you can tune in live on ESPN in Australia or via www.abltv.com, which will also carry the game live. Those wanting to tune in overseas, will also have the chance to see the best of the ABL play, with the game being telecast internationally thorough ESPN3, MLB Network and Fox Sports Asia.
In addition, the ASG All-Star Game will be LIVE streamed via ABLtv.com, ESPNGO and MLB.com with a combined potential audience of over 300 Million people.
Tickets are still available for the All-Star game, and with an awesome pre-game show from REMI and The Pretty Littles, as well as some of the best gourmet food trucks Melbourne has to offer, it's sure to be a great night of entertainment.