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McArdle: I want to bring the Claxton to Adelaide
08/27/2017 9:46 PM ET
Nineteen-year-old Jordan McArdle is ready to be a regular starter for the Bite after a big off-season with the Rookie League Arizona D-Backs.
Nineteen-year-old Jordan McArdle is ready to be a regular starter for the Bite after a big off-season with the Rookie League Arizona D-Backs. (SMP Images/Graphics - Amy Kershaw)

January 28, 2017.

Adelaide hosts Sydney in the final home-and-away series of the season and Jordan McArdle is starting at first base in his rookie campaign.

Fighting back from a 3-0 deficit, Adelaide loads the bases in the fifth inning and the go-ahead run is walked in. Still, the game is evenly poised.

Enter McArdle. On a 1-1 count he swings and with perfect connection the ball soars over right field and straight over the fence in front of a roaring West Beach crowd. That grand slam set up a 15-3 win which saw the Bite finish second in the standings.

Just one week later he had is first postseason bomb and while there would be no Championship Series appearances it was a superb debut for McArdle with the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks. Since then, he has been with the Arizona Diamondbacks Rookie League team.

"Definitely one of the biggest challenges for me early on was being away from home and my family," McArdle said.

"I found that a bit hard early like most young players do but quickly got used to it and have loved it here."

On the back of a breakout year, McArdle finished with a .278 average, notching 22 hits, 11 runs, 17 RBIs and three homers - a strong performance any player would be happy with.

Now, having turned 19 in May, he has been in the middle of a culture shock where baseball is the daily grind and rosters are full of players hoping to be the next big thing in MLB.

"When I first got here I found it a bit weird and even a bit intimidating with all the Latino players and them speaking Spanish as I had no idea what they were talking about," he said.

"I got used to it pretty quickly and was able to pick up certain words and phrases which helped a lot when trying to communicate, especially when I was catching at the start of the season."

"The younger players definitely helped me and showed me the ropes when I first got here, which was great."

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the catcher-turned-first-baseman and the upcoming season will likely see him step up into more of a starting role after he split his time at first and DH last year. The switch to first is a move which gained momentum with the Diamondbacks.

"I had a chat with the D-backs and they said to me that they wanted me to, for now, focus on just playing first base," McArdle explained.

"We believe that it is only going to help my game and especially my hitting as I will stay a little fresher in the legs."

Heading into the new season McArdle is a true mixture of old and new. He has been a part of the Bite set-up since the days of Brooke Knight, before earning his way into the roster under Steve Mintz. Now he will look to be a regular starter under Chris Adamson.

Combined with the world of Minor League Baseball and the Diamondbacks, there is plenty of upside for the rising star. He is not alone in that regard, either, with a whole host of young talent currently filling the ranks.

"It is great to see so many players I grew up with here in Arizona and in the States either playing professional ball or in college," McArdle said.

"It's only going to help the national team keep progressing up the ranks and the ABL to have lots of young Australian players in there when they are able to play, keep the game of baseball growing is the key to our success in the future."

For now McArdle is determined on bringing the Claxton Shield to Adelaide after witnessing the passion of Championship baseball in the past and getting a taste of postseason thrills.

"Going all the way to the Championship Series [in 2015] and being on the field for the home Championship with a packed stadium sticks out in my mind and always fires me up to get back there," McArdle said.

"I loved playing in the playoffs last year. I would really love to get back there and go that next step to help bring that Claxton Shield back to West Beach."

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