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Van Steensel honoured with award
Sox closer named Reliever of the Year
02/20/2019 12:31 AM ET

Despite playing a largely unfamiliar role in his ninth Brut Australian Baseball League campaign, Sydney veteran Todd Van Steensel has been honoured with the 2019 Reliever of the Year award.

After being released by the Minnesota Twins at the end of the 2018 Minor League season, Van Steensel put together his first full ABL campaign since 2013/14, and immediately proved his quality as Sydney's number one closer.

Van Steensel set career benchmarks in appearances (18) and strikeouts (25), and lead the league in saves (10), cementing himself as one of the league's premier relievers.

After a tough end to his journey with the Minnesota Twins, Van Steensel was offered the closer's role by Blue Sox manager Tony Harris.

"When I committed to the Blue Sox, Tony asked me if I wanted the closers role," Van Steensel said.

"Closing games is something I really enjoy doing, it's exciting and it gives you belief in yourself that your staff trust you to get the final three outs."

The 2019 Reliever of the Year is Van Steensel's first ABL individual award, and the honour is not lost on the 28-year-old.

"It's very humbling considering so many guys on every team had great seasons," he said.

"Individual awards are not something I strive for once the season starts, but to be acknowledged by the people you play against is a tremendous honour."

Sydney manager Tony Harris said the 2018/19 ABL season was significant for Van Steensel's development.

"This season was a real turning point for Todd,' Harris said.

"He faced adversity after being released, but I really think he came of age and matured as a ballplayer.

"When he got another affiliated chance with San Diego, the best thing from my perspective is his attitude didn't change. He kept up his work ethic and was just as dedicated to helping the Blue Sox win games."

Van Steensel will enter 2019 Spring Training for the first time as a member of the Padres organisation.

ABL Reliever of the Year winners:
2010/11: Dae-Sung Koo (Sydney Blue Sox)
2011/12: Benn Grice (Perth Heat)
2012/13: Matthew Williams (Sydney Blue Sox)
2013/14: Dae-Sung Koo (Sydney Blue Sox)
2014/15: Josh Tols (Adelaide Bite)
2015/16: Ryan Searle (Brisbane Bandits)
2016/17: Loek van Mil (Adelaide Bite)
2017/18: Cameron Lamb (Perth Heat)
2018/19: Todd Van Steensel (Sydney Blue Sox)

Stay tuned as the ABL's 2018/19 Gold Glove winner will be announced on Friday 22 February.

All six of the ABL's 2018/19 Awards (Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, Reliever of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Brett Brothers Batting Champion and Helms Award) were determined by a 3-2-1 vote conducted by each of the 2018/19 ABL Managers.

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