MAESTRI TO HEAD TO NPB IN JAPAN
Alex Maestri is heading to Nippon Professional Baseball; Rory Rhodes is tearing up the Appy League; other Bandits updates
By Alexis Brudnicki
Rory Rhodes, here at spring training, is hitting .426 with Elizabethton (Alexis Brudnicki photo)
Where are they now?
Several of your favourite Brisbane Bandits are spending the Australian Baseball League off-season overseas and are continuing to play, whether it is in affiliated ball or professional baseball in various independent leagues.
Successes and failures are regular occurrences in the game, but for the most part, the men who spent the summer in Brisbane are finding a great amount of success this North American season.Brisbane’s Italian ace right-hander Alex Maestri began this season with the Kagawa Olive Guyners of the Shikoku Island League of Japan, making himself even more internationally known than he already was. Since being named the Pitcher of the Month in the independent league in May, he has been picked up by a Japanese big league team in Nippon Professional Baseball.Rory Rhodes had a rough start to his season with Minnesota’s Class-A Beloit Snappers, and suffered a concussion at the end of May. Since heading back to the Elizabethton Twins in the Appalachian League, however, Rhodes has been on a tear. Through 13 games in the Appy League, Rhodes holds an incredible slash line of .426/.484/.704, bringing his on-base plus slugging percentage up to a ridiculous 1.188. The towering outfielder has three home runs, four doubles, a triple and 15 runs driven in, in just 54 at-bats.
One of the youngest Bandits of last season, Josh Warner, has already impressed this year as a Phillies farmhand in his second season. The 19-year-old was given two spot starts at Lakewood in the South Atlantic League before making the Opening Day start for Williamsport. In three starts so far, Warner has posted a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings, walking just five, striking out 14 and holding opponents to a .197 average.Right-handed hurler Ryan Searle is currently with the Chicago Cubs Class-A Advanced affiliate and is also posting impressive numbers. Searle is 4-2 with the Daytona Cubs and has posted a 3.58 ERA in 16 appearances over 27 2/3 innings, striking out 23.Bandits reliever Justin Erasmus got off to a good start with the Greenville Drive before landing on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation after taking a comeback line drive off his throwing shoulder at spring training. Since then, the right-hander hasn’t found as much success, but appears to be returning to form. In his last two outings, the native of South Africa has thrown five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits.Mitch Nilsson and Ryan Battaglia are both currently playing with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Battaglia has played in eight games and has two doubles and a triple to go with eight runs driven in while also drawing seven walks. Nilsson has appeared in six games so far this season, and has notched one double and driven in one run.Andrew Campbell finds himself once again with the Arizona League Indians this year and through seven games he has six hits, including a double and a triple. He’s knocked in three runs, walked four times and has three stolen bases.Steven Chambers is still starting games for the Yamato Samurai Reds in the Kansai Independent League in Japan. He is continuing to go deep into games and build up his arm strength for the upcoming ABL season.
He is also working on adding new pitches to his repertoire.Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Drew Naylor started this season in the Eastern League with the Phillies Double-A affiliate in Reading. Though he has since suffered a setback, landing him on the disabled list, he started the season with five straight starts of five innings or more, limiting his walks and striking out 16 in 25 1/3 innings.Sean Jarrett is playing with the Camden Riversharks in the Atlantic League. He’s made 12 starts with Brisbane manager Kevin Jordan’s old independent team and has a 4-4 record. Jarrett has thrown 60 1/3 innings and has walked 17 and struck out 31 batters.Jimmy Albury is also returning from Tommy John surgery, playing for the Southern Illinois Miners in the Frontier League. After starting the season on the disabled list, Albury has thrown 3 1/3 innings for the Miners. The righty started one game so far and took the loss striking out three in his first professional outing since surgery.The Bandits look forward to getting many of these players back to Brisbane for the upcoming season and hope that their achievements will continue in the ABL, and especially at the RNA Showgrounds. You can follow each of the players overseas on their various team websites, and the organisation will look to continue to deliver more updates further down the road.