The 6 team Australian Baseball League (ABL; the defending champions Brisbane Bandits are featured in the cover picture) is set to start on Thursday, 16 November. Canberra Cavalry will play at Brisbane Bandits on Opening Day.
The 2017-2018 season (the last day of the regular season would be Sunday, 28 January) will feature some high profile international imports.
The Adelaid Bite have signed Chang Tai Shan, a legend in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan. A slugging third baseman from 1996 through 2015, Chang holds the all time home run (289) and hit (2,134) records in the league.
Chang Tai Shan represented Chinese Taipei at the international level in various occasions, starring for the third place team of the IBAF World Cup 2001, playing in the 2004 Olympics and in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
Another high profile CPBL veteran will play for the Sydney Blue Sox. Chiang Chih Hsien, who can play second base and the outfield, hit 54 home runs for the Chinatrust Brothers in 2017 and before that he had played for 4 MLB organizations (Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles) in 880 Minor League games.
The Melbourne Aces signed Tomoya Mori, a 22 year old japanese catcher who missed most of the 2017 season (appeared in only 38 games) after fracturing his elbow in a World Baseball Classic warm up game. Mori is a slugging catcher who went double digits in homers in Nippon Professonial Baseball (NPB) for the Seibu Lions both in 2015 and in 2016.
Canberra Cavalry will count on San Diego Padres 17 year old top prospect (was signed to a US$ 2 million bonus in 2016) Gabriel Arias, a shortstop from Venezuela. In his first season as a pro Arias was promoted to Class A Fort Wayne.
Another highly touted MLB prospect is 20 year old outfielder Garrett Whitley, who hit 13 homers in Class A for the Tampa Bay Rays. He will play for the Perth Heat.
Donald Lutz, the first German player to appear in a MLB game (he played in 62 for the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 and 2014 season), will return to the ABL for a fourth season. The 28 year old slugging outfielder will play for Brisbane Bandits, after leading them (he was named the final series MVP) to their first league title 2 seasons ago. Luts has also played in the ABL for Canberra.
ABL is a proud member of WBSC. The league’s alumni have often represented Australia on the international stage (at U-18 and U-23 level, but also in major competitions like Premier12 or World Baseball Classic). • Australia is currently ranked No. 6, the highest ever ranking for a Oceania nation, in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings Presented by ENEOS