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Burning questions - Auckland
Three burning questions for the Tuatara in 2018/19
11/01/2018 7:40 PM ET
 

New Zealand baseball's dream will become a reality when Auckland - the country's first professional baseball team - competes in the ABL this summer.

Will the team enjoy success in its debut season after being built from scratch in a matter of months?

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

 

1. Can their local talent take the next step?

The Tuatara have gone all-in on some Kiwi talent but key position players Max Brown, Beau Bishop and Daniel Lamb-Hunt have featured in only 41 ABL games between them.

Brown impressed in his seven games with the Adelaide Bite last season (.360/.407/.600), but catcher Beau Bishop hasn't seen time in the league since 2015.

Auckland native and former Atlanta Braves farmhand Lamb-Hunt spent time with the Bandits from 2010-2013, and has been a standout in the German Bundesliga since debuting in 2010.

Scott Cone has compiled a 5.71 ERA in 19 appearances with the Canberra Cavalry, while Phillies prospect Kyle Glogoski looms as one of the most exciting young arms in the league.

Glogoski is coming off his first season of affiliated baseball, where he starred with the GCL Phillies. The Auckland native compiled a 4-0 record, finished with a 2.31 ERA and struck out 47 in only 39 innings.

Breakout seasons from their Kiwi talent will go a long way to the Auckland Tuatara featuring in playoff baseball.

 

2. Will Nick Tanielu live up to the hype?

"He will step off the plane and instantly be one of the best players in the league."

"He will be a star in the major leagues in the not-too-distant future."

That's what Tuatara manager Steven Mintz said of Astros prospect Nick Tanielu, and with Tanielu's credentials, Mintzy might be on the money.

After an ACL injury derailed Tanielu's 2017 minor league season, the Alabama native bounced back with a stellar 2018.

Tanielu finished the minor league season with AAA-Fresno, where the third baseman finished with an eye-catching .289 batting average.

An organisational All-Star with the Houston Astros in 2016, Tanielu shapes as a key cog in the Tuatara playoff push, as the right hander joins the team midway through their inaugural campaign.

 

3. What will their experienced arms bring to the table?

As one of only a few ABL teams to boast multiple arms with MLB experience, the Tuatara will no doubt lean heavily on John Holdzkom and Josh Collmenter in their inaugural season.

Collmenter is one of the most well-credentialed pitchers to venture down under.

The Michigan native has logged nearly 700 innings of work in the MLB for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves between 2011 and 2017.

No stranger to New Zealand, Collmenter spent time as the pitching coach for the New Zealand U15 squad, and may feature in the Tuatara's starting rotation with Chiba Lotte Marines prospects Tomohito Sakai and Atsuki Taneichi, up-and-coming star Kyle Glogoski and Kiwi national team representative Scott Cone.

As for John Holdzkom, the former Bite and Cavalry hurler's place in the Tuatara pitching staff may not be as clear-cut.

'Big John' had his first taste of affiliated ball as an 18-year-old with the New York Mets.

Since then, the 6'9" righty has bounced around through the now-defunct United League Baseball, the American Association and the ABL before tossing nine innings with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2014 season.

Holdzkom hasn't thrown a professional pitch in over two years and seems likely to play a role in the Tuatara bullpen this season.

 

What are your burning questions for the Tuatara?

 

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