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FEATURE: Young guns to watch
Six players that should be on your radar in 2017/18
10/24/2017 12:14 AM ET
Aaron Whitefield in action for the Brisbane Bandits (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Aaron Whitefield in action for the Brisbane Bandits (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA (Brett Crockford)

The ability to watch young Aussie talent go up against veteran locals and future Major League players is part of the charm of the Australian Baseball League.

And in 2017/18 the ABL is again set to showcase a long list of young players which represent the future of baseball in Australia.

With several players catching the eyes of US scouts in recent seasons and being rewarded with Minor League contracts there is a clear pathway to the top.

Here is a list of the young gun from each team we think you should keep an eye out for during the 2017/18 season:

 

Ky Hampton (Adelaide Bite)

Hampton made his debut with the Bite last season and after one relief appearance got his first start in January. The then 16 year old became the youngest Adelaide pitcher to record a win in the ABL, recovering from a first-inning home run to last five innings. After winning the Australian Senior League championship with Adelaide Armada in May, Hampton then represented Australia in the U-18 Baseball World Cup in Canada. The right-hander threw a complete-game shutout against Taiwan. Rookie manager Chris Adamson could well turn to Hampton and fellow teenager Jack O'Loughlin to provide a one-two punch in the Adelaide starting rotation.

 

Aaron Whitefield (Brisbane Bandits)

It is easy to forget Whitefield is just 21 when you look at what he has achieved during two seasons with the Bandits. The outfielder has racked up 64 regular season games and was part of the Claxton Shield victory over Melbourne Aces in February. Whitefield was not just a bit-piece player at Brisbane last season. He only missed one game, hit .338 with four home runs and 15 RBIs and led the league with a Bandits' franchise record 20 stolen bases. Rightfully so he was rewarded with a spot on Australia's World Baseball Classic roster. After a strong Minor League campaign with Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, Whitefield will again play a key role for Brisbane.

 

Cam Warner (Canberra Cavalry)

Canberra fans you have a good one here. Warner, 23, returns home for his first ABL season with great credentials. The infielder was picked up by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round of last season's MLB draft and enjoyed a nice start to his Minor League career, hitting .294 in 31 games. Warner's selection by the Tigers followed a stellar college career, including two strong seasons at the TCU Horned Frogs. The right-handed hitter was picked in the All Big 12 First Team in back-to-back years. His brother Ben played three seasons with the Cavs.

 

Jarryd Dale (Melbourne Aces)

If not just for his name, Jarryd Dale is probably already on your watchlist. The youngest son of Australian baseball legend Phil burst onto the scenes with Melbourne in the first half of last season and earlier this year signed with the San Diego Padres. Dale, 17, played 24 games with the Aces and hit .206. The highlight of his short ABL career so far was a grand slam against the Brisbane Bandits on December 4. The infielder will be better for the experience and is likely to play a role with Melbourne again this season before commencing his Minor League career.

 

Alex Hall (Perth Heat)

Hall is one of several youngsters expected to help the Heat surge back into Claxton Shield contention. The catcher made 18 appearances in his rookie ABL season, going 10-for-51 with six walks and 14 strikeouts. Hall showed he is more than capable behind the plate, gunning down eight of the 22 runners who took on his arm. Currently the only catcher named by Perth, Hall could bet set for increased responsibility in 2017/18. The 18-year-old featured during Australia's U-18 World Cup campaign in September, hitting .258 and driving in seven runs.

 

Connor MacDonald (Sydney Blue Sox)

MacDonald will enjoy a change of scenery after linking up with Sydney Blue Sox for the upcoming season. At 21, MacDonald is an experienced campaigner with five seasons at the Brisbane Bandits under his belt. The infielder has also made 150 Minor League appearances with Houston Astros' affiliated teams. MacDonald helped guide Australia to a silver medal at last year's U-23 World Cup, plating 14 runs and hitting .286 with four home runs. The Blue Sox - and incoming manager Tony Harris - will be hoping MacDonald flourishes with extra opportunity.
 

Who is your player to watch during the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League season? Let us know below!

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