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Burning questions - Sydney
Three burning questions for the Blue Sox in 2018/19
10/31/2018 9:30 PM ET
 

Sydney struggled against the ABL's top-three teams last summer as they missed the playoffs for a third-straight year.

In 2018/19 they will be hoping to bounce back.

Here are three burning questions for the Blue Sox ahead of the ABL season getting underway:

 

1. Can the Sox conquer their divisional rivals?

Blue Sox fans could be forgiven for wishing their team was located further south-west.

Sydney has been placed in the North-East Division of the revamped ABL alongside Brisbane, Canberra and newcomers Auckland.

The Bandits and Cavalry caused the Sox plenty of problems last season.

Sydney was a combined 2-14 against the ABLCS combatants in season 2017/18, and in their past two campaigns have only recorded eight wins in 31 attempts against their new divisional rivals.

Last season's struggles were part of a broader concern against top teams.

The Sox were 3-21 against the top-three teams (Brisbane, Canberra and Perth) after managing one win in eight outings against Perth.

If Sydney are to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014/15 it is an area that will require a rapid turnaround.

That starts with wins against Brisbane and Canberra - along with Auckland for that matter - in vital divisional match-ups.

 

2. Will Ngoepe be a gift that gives?

The signing of Gift Ngoepe provided cause for excitement amongst Sydney fans and front office staff.

Ngoepe became the first-ever African player to play MLB in 2017.

He played 41 games for Pittsburgh and Toronto across the past two seasons before being released by the Blue Jays.

The 28-year-old shortstop hit .181 with six RBI in his MLB career.

He spent time with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons after being released by the Blue Jays, hitting .168 in 48 games.

Ngoepe will provide solid defence for the Blue Sox.

He did not commit an error during his MLB stint and has a .970 fielding percentage in 581 minor league games at shortstop.

 

3. Will Todd van Steensel flourish playing a full season?

It has been a rollercoaster 12 months for Todd van Steensel.

The right-hander joined Sydney for the back-half of last season and struggled to find his groove, compiling a 12.15 ERA in six appearances.

Van Steensel then made a bright start to the Double-A season with Chatanooga Lookouts, going 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA in the first half of the season.

He was rewarded with selection in the Southern League All-Star Game.

But in the second half of the season he was released after a stint on the disabled list.

Now van Steensel will link up with Sydney and feature on Opening Weekend for the first time in several seasons.

The 27-year-old holds a 4.17 all-time ERA in the ABL and provides additional depth to the Blue Sox bullpen.

 

What are your burning questions for the Sox?

 

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