For the last four years, Sam Kennelly has been one of the youngest players in the Australian Baseball League, still short of his 20th birthday. He was clearly over-matched at the plate during his first three seasons, but he held his own on defense and was able to play all four infield positions, so he always had a job. This year, he is finally starting to show that he belongs on offense as well, adding some power to his game. He still has some down days as he showed during Friday’s game when he went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, but you can see improvements in his game over previous years and that could carry over into the regular season in the States in 2016.
Kennelly had one extra-base hit during his first three seasons combined, though that was just 139 at-bats total. You could also say that his at-bat total was low each year because he wasn’t hitting enough to play full-time. He had four doubles this season before Thursday, then had his biggest ABL game yet. Kennelly doubled the opposite way in the sixth inning, then hit his first winter home run in the eighth inning. During the regular season in the GCL, he had seven doubles, two triples and a home run, so with 14 more games left this winter, he could match that output against much more experienced competition.
You can see Thursday’s highlights here. The entire game is shown below, but to make things easier, the double by Kennelly happens 1 hour and 55 minutes in, while the home run is two innings later around the 2:34 mark.
Also from Australia on Friday, Sam Street faced four batters, retiring two, while allowing a run on two hits. In 7.1 innings over five appearances this winter, he has allowed two runs on ten hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.
In Venezuela, Elias Diaz received permission to continue playing winter ball, though it sounds like he will leave his team for a short time to attend the Pirates winter mini-camp, which begins on January 11th and usually lasts 3-4 days. If his team is still in the playoffs afterwards, he will be able to return to Venezuela to play according to the reports.
Wilfredo Boscan was taken in the playoff draft by Tiburones de La Guaira on Thursday. Boscan said two weeks ago that he planned to stop pitching once the regular season was over. He wasn’t used by his team in the last couple games, despite being on six and seven days rest. As one of the top starters on his team, you would think that they would have used him in a must win game either day. They lost though, and were eliminated from the playoffs.
Boscan may have been drafted just in case he decided to play, or he may have changed his mind from a couple weeks ago. The winter leagues allow players from teams that didn’t make the playoffs, to continue playing on a playoff team by holding a draft the day after the regular season ends.
Except for Australia, all the other winter leagues are now in the playoffs, trying to figure out who will represent Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican and Venezuela in the Caribbean Series. The playoffs begin in Mexico tonight and start in Puerto Rico and Venezuela tomorrow. The Dominican league started last week, but took off yesterday and today for the holiday.
Expect the winter articles to be spread out a little more from now on, as less players are seeing action, especially with some players shutting down for the winter mini-camp. If anything big happens, we will post an article, otherwise we will cover 2-3 days per article.