Every year we see new and old come to Australia at different stages of their careers to fill import positions. Let’s look at the best from each club.
Aaron Miller, so far, has been a gun for Adelaide, and as such has been rewarded (like many on this list) with a spot in the ABL World All-Stars team. Miller has 20 runs and finds himself the second best scorer in the ABL this season. Part of the LA Dodgers organisation, and coming from the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Miller has already put up two three run games this season. He has one of the best averages in the league at .383, 16 RBIs and has chalked up the most total bases with 55.
Starting all five of his games, Craig Stem is 2-1, pitching 27.1 innings with an ERA of 2.96. Highlights so far include seven full innings against Canberra in which he conceded four run, two hits and threw nine strikeouts to earn the win. With 30 strikeouts to his name Stem is second in the category in the ABL and could be one of the best pitchers this season.
When five of Brisbane’s top six run scorers are imports, you know how important they are to the team. A consistent player throughout the season and their top scorer, Johnny Field has 17 runs from 19 hits, has scored in 12 of his 20 games, hit 11 RBIs and gone the yard six times. The Las Vegas native is one of a few core Bandits who have helped the team to the top end of the standings. Not only is his presence at the plate important but he has taken catches all over the outfield.
Granden Goetzman and Tommy Coyle are two others doing exactly what they should for the Bandits, racking up base hits and cruising over home plate. Big man Goetzman has 13 runs for the season from 16 hits, with Coyle 12 from 28, earning him an average of .373. Coyles 13 RBIs have helped him earn a spot in the World All-Stars, and with four offensive players in the squad (Field, Coyle, CJ Beatty and Maxx Tissenbaum) fans should be well aware of how good Brisbane’s imports are.
Currently the league leading run scorer with 21, Anthony Alford has scored in 13 of 18 games, and with 16 hits to his name has linked up well with the Cavalry’s offense in a season of ups and downs. Not so much the provider with just three RBIs, Alford has benefitted from opportunity, and in comparison to Adelaide’s Aaron Miller who has one run less, Alford has 26 total bases to his 55. At just 20 Miller is set to improve considerably. Someone who already has is Jack Murphy, who is in his third season at Canberra, and is on track to better his past two seasons offensively. The Toronto Blue Jays catcher has eleven runs already, compared to 13 last season and 17 before that, and is averaging .397. 14 RBIs so far could see him eclipse previous season efforts also, as with his average only just dipping back below .400 this could be a great season for Murphy.
Kellin Deglan has been one of the Aces best imports, and while he is not always the star, he has been crucial in their victories. His 18 RBIs lead the team and his 11 runs equal second best for the last placed Aces. Deglan has seven homers to his name, and that big hitting prowess is what Melbourne needs to move up the standings.
Disappointingly for Melbourne, they need more imports (and locals for that matter) to step up and perform consistently. Their best players can go from a great game to a poor one.
Cody Buckel has played five games, and in three pitched 16 innings, allowing just three runs from five hits, whilst in another two pitched 11 innings for 11 hits and nine runs. His best match so far was his seven inning game against Sydney, where he threw 12 strikeouts and allowed one run off four hits, earning the win. More of that will see Melbourne improve quickly.
We all thought he was good last season, and Joey Wong could be even better this season. He finished the 2013/2014 season with 49 hits, 27 runs and 18 RBIs last season at .290 from 42 games. 19 games into the 2014/2015 campaign Wong is on track to match that, or even do better. He currently has 25 hits and 15 runs, 9 RBIs, 32 total bases (65 last season), whilst hitting .342. He is certainly a proven star who again leads the way for Perth.
Like Melbourne, the stats do not reflect the talent at hand. Such performances need to improve all over. To make a solid impact, imports such as Brian Pointer need to lift, especially when it comes to the chances he has to create at bat. Brian Baker, also in his second season at Perth, has had three shocking outings on the mound, allowing 22 runs after two impressive games which saw him shut out his opposition across ten innings.
Sydney Blue Sox
In a team with a surprisingly small amount of imports, those who have made the journey down under have formed a crucial part of a Sydney team chasing glory. Outfielder Alex Glenn from the Arizona Diamondbacks organisation has been named in the ABL World All Stars team alongside Tyler Bortnick (also from Arizona). Glenn has scored ten runs, 19 hits and 14 RBIs, while Bortnick leads Sydney with 16 runs, and has 19 hits and eight RBIs. They both also have two homers to their names.
Markus Solbach is in his second stint in Australia after pitching a few innings for Melbourne back in 2011/2012 and has been one of the best pitchers so far. This is reflected by 2.62 ERA through 34.1 innings. Through these he has allowed 14 runs (ten earned) and 27 hits, giving him an impressive 4-0 record so far. The German also has 25 strikeouts and is another solid import from the Diamondbacks organisation.