Thursday 1 September 2016


When I signed my first professional contract in 2008 with the Philadelphia Phillies I had a plan in my head of how my baseball career would turn out. I had just celebrated my seventeenth birthday and as I signed my contract I looked it over and noticed it was a seven year contract. So I thought, too easy, I will be pitching in the big leagues when I'm 24 years old. I had nothing to worry about. There were seven levels in the Phillies system including the Major Leagues, seven levels, seven years, I will be a big leaguer and making millions of dollars in no time. Oh how wrong I was.

Lets fast forward eight years to 2016 and see where I am in my career. I have been released, then signed with the Minnesota Twins, then release again allt before I had turned 21 years old, started taking online classes to try and earn a degree, and even spent a summer playing baseball in Holland where I decided to test the theory "white men can't jump" and slam dunk a basketball. The result was busted left elbow which need a full reconstruction. I was re-signed by the Twins who had released me just two years earlier and almost broke an all-time record with a Minor League affiliate for most appearances by a pitcher. And where am I now? I'm sitting in a hotel in Jackson, Tennessee two weeks after being promoted to the Twins AA affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts.

I was asked by a coach in Spring Training of 2015 what my goals were. Once again, I was very optimistic and said I'd like to be promoted to AA by the end of the season and be pitching in the Major Leagues by the end of 2016. Now let's see how my plan turned out this time. In July 2014 I was promoted from the Twins Low-A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels to the High-A affiliate which are the Fort Myers Miracle. Instead of being promoted to AA I spent the entire 2015 season with the Miracle. Instead of being promoted to AA after Spring Training this year, I spent nearly the entire season with the Miracle which like I said above, almost resulted in me etching my name in the record books with Ft Myers as the all-time appearance leader by a pitcher with the club. For those of you playing at home I pitched in 101 games with the Miracle and the record was 106 set back in 1993-94. So as you can tell, and once again the plan I had set out in spring training the year before hadn't really turned out the way I would have liked it. I remember a quote by a coach in the Twins system who said "It's a different experience when you let whatever happened be the thing that's supposed to happen. It's a way different experience than to think of what's supposed to happen and then when it doesn't happen judge it not to be right". That quote has kind of stuck with me for awhile, so much that it has been written as a note in my iPhone since 2014.

If you are a minor league baseball player and you tell me the thoughts of "I can't do this anymore" or "Is this worth it?" or "What am I doing with my life?" have not popped into your head at some point during the summer months, then I'm going to find it hard to believe you. The minor league baseball season is a grind like no other and it questions your love for the game each and everyday. At the end of the day, or even the start of each day you remind yourself why you do this. I tell myself I do this because there are many times I could have given up, and I do this for the times I wanted to give up and didn't. I do it for that. If I had given up after a terrible outing in July this season like I was ready to, I wouldn't be sitting in a hotel room about to head to the field to play the AA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. I've learnt over time and through experience that just because your plan hasn't gone the way you have wanted, it isn't a reason that you can't achieve your goals. Someone else somewhere has a bigger plan for you. Trust it.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

See You Later?

One thing every baseball player will tell you is that their teammates are more than that, they are family. And it is easy to see why. You spend nearly everyday with these guys for six months of the season. Now, you may not like every teammate you come across, just like you probably don't enjoy the company of everyone of your family members but they're still there for you when you need someone. You may not be best mates with your centre fielder but he will put his body on the line and lay out for a ball for you. Just like a good family member, they are there for you.

Recently a teammate I have played with for each of the last three seasons decided to hang up his cleats and retire. One day he woke up, made a few phone calls to the appropriate people and just like that he was in a car and on his way home. My initial reaction to this was shock. I mean, its not everyday that a teammate decides his playing days are over at the age of 25, but it does happen.

It doesn't really hit you that one of your teammates, one of your family members, isn't coming back until you're standing in the outfield during batting practise where he used to roam. A part of you is happy for him, hoping he is happy and at peace with his decision but then there is the part of you that is selfish and wishing your teammate, your brother was still there with you.

There have been a few teammates I've had to say "see you later" to over the last few months. Whether it be a release or a retirement. Those "see you laters" are very optimistic because as much as you wish you could see them again, it is usually a goodbye and farewell. I am generally a pretty positive person, and like to look on the bright side and all I know, is that baseball is a funny game and it can take you to funny places, so you never know when you may run into your brother again.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Sydney Blue Sox Season Launch

Last year our season launch was held at NSW Parliament House, but I think this year we performed one better by having our launch at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was a pretty awesome experience for most of the Aussie players on the team as we were able to have full use of the change rooms and we were able to spend time in the Members Pavillion. This is pretty exclusive as there is a 20 year waiting list to become a member at the Sydney Cricket Ground so not many people get to experience what we got to yesterday.

Board members of the ABL, ABF, Sydney Blue Sox and Baseball NSW were present as well as the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Arizona Diamondbacks first basemen Paul Goldschmidt who was undoubtedly the guest of honour. Had to get a photo with him because how often will you meet a guy who wins the Hank Aaron Award, a Gold Glove Award and a Silver Slugger Award in one season? He may even add the National League MVP to his list of honours this year. I had to take a photo with him to remember the occasion!

We were able to play catch with a few little leaguers before taking a lot of photos on the field. It was a perfect day for the launch as the skies were blue and everything went according to plan. Standing on the Sydney Cricket Ground in a baseball uniform only gets me even more excited for the MLB Opening Series in Sydney next year.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Its just around the corner!

We're five weeks into Spring Training which means its almost time to get our season underway! Next week the Blue Sox fly to Perth to take on the Perth Heat who are undoubtedly the most successful club in the Australian Baseball Leagues short history. But before the regular season gets underway we have some exhibition games to take care of this weekend

On Friday night the Blue Sox will host the Sydney State League All-Stars and a team made up of ABL import players. The Sydney State League is the amateur league that runs in Sydney during the summer. Many players in the league have played professional baseball and college baseball so the standard is very high. Many of these State League players may be called up to the Blue Sox at some point in the year if there are vacancies on the roster due to injuries so this game is a good chance to show the Blue Sox management what they are capable of. For me it will be a bit of fun as I may get the chance to pitch against my Ryde Hawks teammates.

On Saturday and Sunday we will play against all the imports who have flown in to play in the ABL. Imports from all six teams in the league will come together to make the ABL Imports team. This is a great way for the league to showcase the Minor League prospects in front of a local crowd. So far we have six imports at the Blue Sox with one still to arrive. We have Joey DeMichele and Jacob May who are both 3rd round picks from the 2012 and 2013 drafts respectively who are in the Chicago White Sox organisation. Keon Broxton was also a 3rd round pick but for the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2009 who spent last season playing in Double A. After having Tyler Collins and James Robbins from the Detroit Tigers in the last two seasons, the Blue Sox have continued that relationship with the Tigers organisation by including Dean Green on the roster who just spent last season playing with the Lakeland Flying Tigers in the Florida State League. Rounding out our imports who have arrived are Connor Whalen who played in an Independent League in 2013 after spending a few years in affiliated baseball with the Brewers. Last but not least is Brendan Pittsley who came to Sydney to play for the Ryde Hawks but was given a chance to try out for the Blue Sox after impressing the coaching staff was offered a spot on the roster.

Even though they are just exhibition games I feel like it is a great tune up before the season gets underway. Many other teams in the league won't get to play games against quality opposition like we get to so it is a great advantage for us to play high intensity games like this right before the season begins. Only one week to go now and you better believe I'm counting down the days!

Friday 20 September 2013

And here we go again

Welcome to another (hopefully full) season of The Clubhouse Chronicles! I got a little slack with it last season only posting on the first half of the season but this year I'll make sure you get to enjoy the fun ride in the fourth season of the Australian Baseball League!

This week we started spring training with the Sydney Blue Sox. Considering our 2012/13 season ended in early February it has been a long time since I've been able to wear my Blue Sox gear. After what I thought was a very successful season under manager Jason Pospishil where he dramatically changed the culture of the ball club, I'm looking forward to playing under him again. Graham Cassell is also returning as the third base coach which he has manned ever since I was a teenager watching games back in the Claxton Shield days. There are a few new additions to the staff which includes Nathan Wright, Darian Lindsay and Lionel Harris. Nathan Wright, more commonly known as 'Lefty' to everyone in Sydney will be the new first base coach and will workout with the catchers and Darian Lindsay will take over as the clubs pitching coach this season. He will take over the job from Chris Oxspring who after a successful season pitching in Korea is planning on taking time off this summer. Last but certainly not least is Lionel Harris. Lionel is a an Australian Baseball Hall of Famer and his presence around the ball club will be surely something that will be valuable for everyone. He will take over as the executive officer from Terry O'Toole who unfortunately had to step down after spending the first three seasons with the club.

This year about 42 players have been invited to spring training and before the season this will need to be cut down to 35. There are a lot of open spots on the team which is sure to lead to a very competitive few weeks. There has been talk about some imports coming in to help the team but unfortunately it doesn't seem like we will be seeing last years boys returning.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to participate in any Blue Sox spring training workouts so far because I am preparing for the Under 23 National Championships with the New South Wales team. We head off to Adelaide next week to take on some of the best young talent in the country. Being on the Under 23 team is a little different for me. Since I've been a part of the Blue Sox I've been one of the youngest pitchers on the roster, whereas on the under 23's team I am one of the senior pitchers. Its a role I've enjoyed so far trying to help some of the younger pitchers on the team as much as I can.

So hope you look forward to following me this season. I can't wait for it to get started!

Thursday 1 November 2012

ABL Preseason vs Team Australia

Last weekend we played our first full preseason series against Team Australia. A team of seasoned veterans as well as up and coming Australian prospects travelled to Blacktown for the weekend. This was a great hit out for us as it created regular season intensity. We went down in the series 2-1, but easily could have finished the series with a positive 3-0 record.

Game 1
Costly errors early on in the game were too much to come back from as Australia took an early 4-0 lead. We were able to get within 1 run, but Australia added an insurance run late in the game and we were never able to mount a comeback. Australia ran out winners 5-3.

Game 2
Craig Anderson started and threw 5 1/3 great innings allowing only 2 runs and left with a 3-2 lead. I was brought into the game to throw to the right handed hitters and end the 6th inning. Simple task you may think, but the two batters I had to face were Luke Hughes and Justin Huber. Both have spent time in the Majors and both have been part of Team Australia for the last 7 years. The nerves kicked in and the adrenaline took over as I retired both hitters with swinging strikeouts. I was pretty pumped as it was great to throw in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people again. Tyler Herr threw 2 great innings of relief before handing the ball over to Matt Williams to try and nail down the win. Unfortunately Team Australia strung quality at bats together, which set the stage for 19 year old Darryl George to hit a game winning 2 run single to right field. Australia stealing a 4-3 win.

Game 3
We started off hot scoring 2 runs in the 1st inning thanks to a double down right field line off the bat of Blue Sox import James Robbins. Vaughan Harris kept the Australia bats quiet through 5 innings only allowing a handful of hits before Luke Wilkins took over in relief. Luke started off shaky allowing 2 runs to score in the 6th, but then bounced back in the 7th throwing a scoreless inning. Another import, JD Williams made his presence felt as he hit a double in the 7th, stole 3rd base, and then scampered home on an errant throw by the catcher. I came out to throw the 8th inning, something that I thought was very unexpected since I haven't pitched in many games lately, and I threw the night before. The task wouldn't be easy again as I had to face Mitch Dening, Luke Hughes and Justin Huber. Luckily I was able to finish the inning only allowing three ground ball outs. Matt Williams came out to throw the 9th and there was no case of deja vu. He nailed down the save securing our first win of the preseason.

We head to Canberra this weekend to start our regular season against the Cavalry. I have no doubt this series against Australia gives us a great advantage.

Pitching in game 2

Wednesday 24 October 2012

First Game Back

I wrote not too long ago about throwing my first bullpen since my injury. Today I'm going to write about my first outing since my injury. My last official outing was on July 1st in Holland, so it had been nearly four months since I pitched in a game. The Sydney Blue Sox had an exhibition game last week against the Manly Eagles who are a top grade team that play in the Sydney State League and I was on the roster to play against them.

I was scheduled to throw the 6th inning of the game. So I started to stretch and get ready around the end of the 4th inning. It was a nice warm day in Manly so it didn't take me too long at all to get ready. After about 12 pitches in the pen, I entered the game in the 6th inning. I had to face the 4, 5 and 6 hitters in the Manly line up.

The first pitch I threw was a strike pulled foul, so I was glad to start my first hitter off with a strike. The next pitch however was a slider that the hitter hit straight back at me that left me laying flat on the ground. Luckily the infielders up the middle made the play to get the out. As I got back up I was thinking to myself "Of course the first batter I face will hit the ball straight back at me". I still don't have full range of motion in my left arm, so fielding come backer's are still a small concern for me to field, but luckily I got out of the way of this one. I then struck out the next two batters I faced to end the inning. I'm not sure if I actually took a breath out there on the mound, but man it felt good to be back.