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SEASON PREVIEW: Canberra Cavalry
Will the Cavs' offence power it to playoffs?
11/06/2017 10:06 PM ET
Robbie Perkins celebrates with teammates last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Robbie Perkins celebrates with teammates last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA 

This is the third of our 2017/18 Australian Baseball League team previews. Each day until November 10 we will preview a team in reverse order of last season's final standings. Today we take a look at the Canberra Cavalry. Up next: Adelaide Bite.

Canberra sat inside the top-three for much of last season before being pipped at the post by eventual champions Brisbane.

The Cavs' much-feared offence saw its numbers drop as Canberra went on a 4-8 run to finish the season against contenders Melbourne and Brisbane and lowly Sydney.

After giving up their spot so close to the finish line, the Cavalry will he hoping a postseason berth is not far away.

And with an extra playoff spot available and key offensive cogs Robbie Perkins, Boss Moanaroa, Kyle Perkins and David Kandilas returning Canberra is in good shape.

The Cavs have beefed up their pitching options with the addition of imports Lake Bachar, Tayler Saucedo, Steve Janas, Daniel Lietz and Frank Gailey.

Brian Grening (pictured) will also return to Canberra along with Michael Click and national team pitcher Steve Kent headlines the list of local pitchers.

Another local product, Detroit Tigers' prospect Cam Warner, will return home to make his ABL debut in the infield while outfielder Ryan Kalish brings Major League experience.

 

LAST SEASON
20-20 (fourth)

 

THREE UP, THREE DOWN

1. Filling the gaps. The Cavs had the best offence in the league for the first three quarters of last season. In a boost to its chances in 2017/18 it was returning stars Robbie Perkins (pictured), Boss Moanaroa and Kyle Perkins who produced much of it. But with a new crop of imports around them, as well as some young players looking to make their way in the ABL, the question is whether the loss of Scott Kelly, River Stevens and Josh Almonte can be offset. All three outgoing players hit above .300.

2. Free passes. Canberra gave up 203 runs - second most tied with Sydney - in 2016/17. Their cause was not helped by a league-high 165 walks. Cavs' pitchers also walked 40 hitters leading off an inning, most in the ABL. Keeping runners off base, especially early in an inning, will be a focus for Michael Collins' side as they look for pitching improvement. Too many times Canberra found itself in a shootout last season and ultimately down the stretch its offence could no longer bail out the pitching staff.

3. Homecoming time. Cam Warner returns home to make his ABL debut after a successful college career. The 23-year-old was rewarded when his name was called by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round of the MLB Draft. The infielder looked at home in a short Minor League stint. In 31 games he hit .294 with 10 RBIs and a home run. Warner was twice selected in the All-Big 12 First team during his time at the TCU Horned Dogs.

 

X-FACTOR

Outfielder Ryan Kalish (pictured, left) arrives in Canberra looking to relaunch his career after battling injuries in recent seasons. The 29-year-old did not play at all in 2017 but brings with him 153 games of Major League experience with the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. Kalish is a career .245 hitter in the MLB and last appeared with the Cubs in 2016.

 

WHY TO WATCH THEM
In season one of the ABL a raw 20-year-old import put up mediocre numbers in the nation's capital. That of course was DIdi Gregorius, now shortstop for the New York Yankees. Fast forward to season eight and 17-year-old Gabriel Arias will front for the Cavs. There are plenty of reasons to watch Canberra, but the chance to see such a highly-touted young gun with a big chance of making it to the Big Leagues is as good a reason as any.

 

BEST-CASE SCENARIO
The Perkins brothers, Kandilas and Moanaroa do not see their offensive numbers dip and the Cavs' import hitters transition seamlessly. If this can happen and Canberra's bulked up pitching comes through the Cavs will be hard to beat and well in the mix again. With Warner returning to Canberra and several other local youngsters expected to get opportunity, there could even be a bolter that takes the Cavs to another level.

 

HOME OPENER
vs Sydney, November 23 at 7pm. Get your Canberra Cavalry tickets here.

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