One of the primary themes of my past couple of blogs has been the departure of the Bandits' five Japanese players. Besides appearances at Wednesday's All-Star game, these players will take no further part in the ABL season, as they return home to prepare for their own incoming season. Rather than dwelling further on this loss, an excellent comment on my last blog suggested I take a look at some of the locals that will be stepping into the newly created vacancies on the roster. Afterall, providing opportunities for exciting local talent is one of the key purposes of the ABL - so with that said, let's take a look at some of the budding young Bandits - those on the fringe hoping to cement themselves on the team.
At catcher, the fresh-faced Mitch Nilsson (20) and Ryan Battaglia (19) can both be expected to see more gametime (alongside Joel Naughton). Interestingly, both Mitch and Ryan have been signed by the Cleveland Indians organization. This season Mitch played for the rookie-league AZL Indians, located in Arizona, where he put in some strong performances. In 21 games, he recorded an average of 0.358 with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 0.926. Generally, an OPS statistic over 0.900 is considered excellent. Meanwhile, Ryan also spent time with the AZL Indians as well as with the fantastically named Short-Season A team the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Battalglia had only limited time at the plate (just 8 at-bats), drawing 2 walks but without registering a hit.
His time in the Greater Brisbane League (Major League A Grade) this season has been more eventful. In ten appearances for the Windsor Royals, he's hit 0.342 including five doubles and three home runs (his line is 0.342 / 0.468 / 0.711). This ranks him 7th in the league in slugging percentage (Bandits regulars Sutherland and Brad Dutton are in front of him) and in the top twenty in both on-base percentage and batting average. Mitch Nilsson, playing for the Pine Hills Lightning, has appeared in only four games - likely due to commitments with the Bandits - and is yet unleash his American minor-league form upon the league (averaging 0.125).
For the Brisbane Bandits, Ryan has appeared in 14 games (just 2 this season) and Mitch in 33 (but again, just 6 this season). With Yamashita showing impressive batting form for the Bandits this season, neither have really had a chance to get going in the 2011/12 ABL season - Mitch is hitting 0.158 and Ryan is yet to record a hit. They are both undoubtedly young men with a lot of potential, so it should be very interesting to see if they can heat up with more time at (and behind) the plate.
In the infield, both Alan Schoenberger (22) and Daniel Lamb-Hunt (24) will likely see game time. In seven appearances for the Windsor Royals, Alan has been hitting the ball well (0.304 / 0.467 / 0.478). While he hasn't shown much power, his patience at the plate has been good - and this is something the Bandits definitely need more of at the moment. Meanwhile, Daniel Lamb-Hunt has also been solid in twelve games for the Redland Rays (Pacific League), where he has shown more power but less patience (0.298 / 0.377 / 0.553).