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Bite watch: 2018 MLB hopefuls
Looking at our past & present MLB players
03/14/2018 7:42 PM ET
Pitcher Andrew Kittredge is the big winner from 2017 after earning his place in Tampa Bay's bullpen. What will 2018 bring?
Pitcher Andrew Kittredge is the big winner from 2017 after earning his place in Tampa Bay's bullpen. What will 2018 bring? (Ben Southall/SMP Images/ABL Media)

Twelve players have played for the Adelaide Bite, proudly presented by SA Power Networks, and a Major League Baseball Club. Eight of those made their MLB after appearing for the Bite.

Brandon Maurer will play his sixth MLB season while Andrew Kittredge looks likely to play a full season for Tampa Bay after forcing his way into their bullpen with stellar form in 2017.

Meanwhile, Ji-Man Choi is at his third team in three seasons but the South Korean's form is as good as ever. Can he finally secure a regular spot in a 40-man roster?

Here's our first Bite Watch of 2018.

Brandon Maurer (Kansas City Royals)

From his nine starts in the 2010/11 season, 27-year-old Maurer has developed into one of Major League Baseball's better closers/late innings pitchers. Last year was inconsistent for the California native who pitched a 2.61 ERA in April, and 2.53 in July, but some rough outings hurt his numbers in the long run.

Having made the switch from San Diego to Kansas City during July of 2017, Maurer will have the chance to start in the bullpen as an established Royal and with a greater understanding of the team he is with.

Through a handful of Spring Training games, his ERA sits at 2.08.

Ji-Man Choi (Milwaukee Brewers)

After breaking into the LA Angels side in 2016, a switch to the NY Yankees was not as fruitful for the South Korean in 2017. Now at his third MLB club, the 2012/13 Bite slugger is set for a fresh start with the Brewers. Signed to a Minor League deal, however, it's unlikely we will see Choi start at the top any time soon.

Reports suggest he will be competing with Jesus Aguilar for a roster spot with Eric Thames the favoured first baseman at Milwaukee. However, Choi has clubbed a pre-season grand slam and is currently hitting .440 to give his new club every reason to consider him for MLB action.

Andrew Kittredge (Tampa Bay Rays)

In relief for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, Kittredge posted a 1.45 ERA in 2017 and the reliever deservedly received his MLB call-up. Fifteen games (and fifteen innings) later, Kittredge ended his first MLB season with a 1.76 ERA from a solid start to life at Tampa Bay.

Now the 27-year-old can be expected to strengthen his place in their bullpen and if he can back up his 2017 he may quickly become one of the best for the Rays. Just like his Adelaide teammate, Choi, there is a lot of upside when given the chance and the Rays have seen a lot to love in Kittredge's pitching.

Rocky Gale (LA Dodgers)

San Diego gave Gale some brief chances at the top but the 30-year-old catcher was never able to establish himself above their Triple-A level. A 2018 move to the Dodgers creates some new hope, although as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training he does sit down the pecking order.

To get another crack at the top, Gale will need to impress for the Oklahoma City Dodgers, and we know he is a top Triple-A player - the question is can he get an extended run past that level? Right now it looks like he will spend the season going head-to-head with Choi and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the Pacific Coast League (American Northern division).

James Jones (Texas Rangers)

The 29-year-old has had a long journey in recent years with injury denting his progress, but the outfielder-turned-pitcher is still in Texas plans. A handful of appearances in 2017 for their Rookie League side did not give too much away about his progress and while we won't see Jones jumping into the Rangers' line-up any time soon, it'll be exciting to finally see him put some innings together at any level.

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