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FEATURE: Imports to watch in 17/18
Six imports key to your team going all the way this season
11/08/2017 6:04 PM ET
Donald Lutz in action for Brisbane last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA
Donald Lutz in action for Brisbane last season (C) SMP IMAGES/ABL MEDIA 

The Australian Baseball League import class of 2017 looks like being one of the strongest yet as teams fight hard to get their hands on the Claxton Shield.

With young affiliated prospects, others coming back from injuries and those looking to resurrect their career and show they still have plenty to offer there is a great mix of import talent heading our way.

We have narrowed down a list of imports from each team we think you should keep an eye out for during the 2017/18 season:

 

Chang Tai-Shan (Adelaide Bite)

The Bite were first cab off the rank this season in naming a marquee import, and they did not mess about. Chang is a baseball rock star in his home nation Taiwan and is affectionately known as Tarzan. His resume is second-to-none. The veteran slugger heads to Adelaide to finish his career as the Chinese Professional Baseball League all-time home run and hits leader. At 41, Chang will be looking to end his career on a high and add to his six championships at home.

 

Donald Lutz (Brisbane Bandits)

Lutz returns to the ABL for a fourth season with a key role to play in Brisbane's quest for a three-peat. The former Cincinnati Reds outfielder is a career .280 hitter in the ABL after first playing with Canberra in 2010/11. The left-hander hit .323 with four home runs and 17 RBIs for the Bandits last season and hit a memorable home run in Brisbane's ABLCS victory over Adelaide two seasons ago. He was named MVP in that series as the Bandits won their first ABL title.

 

Gabriel Arias (Canberra Cavalry)

San Diego Padres' prospect Arias is expected to be the youngest import in the ABL this season. The 17-year-old was ranked as a top-five international class prospect by Baseball America when he signed in 2016. The Venezuelan shortstop was promoted to Class-A Fort Wayne in August and hit .265 across his first season in the minors. He has been praised for his defensive game and will no doubt draw comparisons to former Cav and now New York Yankee Didi Gregorius at Narrabundah.

 

Tomoya Mori (Melbourne Aces)

Mori is one of a trio of Japanese players set to join the Aces from Saitaima Seibu Lions. The 170cm catcher made his NPB with the Lions in 2014 and has gone on to make more than 300 appearances. The 22-year-old holds a career average of .294 with 35 home runs and 147 RBIs. Mori missed a lot of the 2017 season with a fractured elbow after being hit by a pitch during the World Baseball Classic warm-up game in March. He played 38 games late in the season, hitting .339, blasting two home runs and driving in 18 runs.

 

Garrett Whitley (Perth Heat)

Whitley joins the Heat as a 20-year-old after being taken at pick 13 in the 2015 MLB Draft by Tampa Bay Rays. The outfielder made 104 appearances for Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2017, hitting .249 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs . The first-round pick has shown plenty of speed on the base paths and an above-average arm, but his approach at the plate remains a work in progress. Whitley has the tools and could a big factor in Perth's quest to return to the postseason.

 

Chiang Chih-hsien (Sydney Blue Sox)

The Blue Sox announced the signing of Chiang this week in a big coup for the Sydney side. The 29-year-old has a wealth of experience in both the US and Taiwan and has represented Chinese Taipei several times. The infielder, who has spent a large part of his career playing in the outfield, has 880 MiLB games under his belt and has played a key role for Brothers Baseball Club in the CPBL since 2015. In 207 CPBL games he has hit 54 home runs and driven in 203 runs with a batting average of .360.

 

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

Memberships are now on sale for Season 8 of the ABL, click here for more information #NowForNovember #OurGame

 

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