Thursday, November 16, 2017

Asian Players in the 2017/18 Australian Baseball League

The 2017/18 Australian Baseball League kicked off today with the defending champion Brisbane Bandits defeating the Canberra Cavalry 8-5.  As has been the case in previous seasons, there are a number of players on the rosters of the six teams that come from the professional leagues in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

There are only three players from NPB in the league this year but they are a pretty significant trio.  For the seventh straight season (all of the seasons since the league restarted in 2010-11 other than the first) the Saitama Seibu Lions are sending players to the Melbourne Aces.  This year the players are Tomoya Mori, Kona Takahashi and Shunta Nakatsuka.  Mori was the first pick of the Lions in the 2013 draft and was an All Star in 2015.  He's one of the most promising young players in NPB.  Takahashi was the Lions first pick in the 2014 draft and is one of the Lions top pitching prospects.  Natatsuka was the Lions second round pick in the 2016 draft but since he was drafted out of college he's actually the oldest of the three players.  Graveyard Baseball has some more details on the trio's background.

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #010

2015 BBM Rookie Edition #039

2017 BBM Rookie Edition #029

There is one former or current KBO player in the league.  Former Doosan Bear and NC Dino pitcher Chang-Sung Ko is with the Sydney Blue Sox.  Ko was with Doosan from 2008-12 and NC from 2013-15 but I'm not sure where he's been the past two seasons - I think he was still with the Dinos but just in the minors but I don't know that for sure.

2014 Super Star Baseball Season Two #SBC02-094
There are five Taiwanese players in the league although only four of them are veterans of the CPBL.  Jin-De Jhang of the Sydney Blue Sox has played in the Pirates organization the past six seasons after signing with them out of high school.  His Blue Sox teammate Chih-Hsien Chiang is another player with US minor league experience - he spent the 2006-14 seasons in the Red Sox, Mariners, Rangers and Oriole organizations.  He's been with the Chinatrust Brothers for the past three seasons. He was also on the Chinese Taipei WBC team in 2009 and 2017.

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC Edition #W09R046
Brisbane has two Taiwanese players - pitcher Pin-Jui Chiu and shortstop Chih-Sheng Lin.  I haven't been able to find out much about Chiu other than he pitches for the Chinatrust Brothers but Lin is a big star in the CPBL.  He played for the La New Bears/Lamigo Monkeys from 2004 to 2015 and then became the first player in CPBL history to change teams as a free agent when he signed with the Chinatrust Brothers in 2016.  He was also the CPBL's first 30/30 player in 2010.  He was a member of the Chinese Taipei national team for the  2006, 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics, the 2008 Olympic and the 2012 Premier 12.  In the 2012 Premier 12 he helped beat Cuba in a nail biter of a game by hitting a three run homer in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 tie:

The final Taiwanese player in the ABL this season is 40 year old Tai-San Chang of the Adelaide Bite.  Chang is the career hit and home run leader for the CPBL.  He played for the Wei Chuan Dragons from 1996-1999, the Sinon Bulls from 2000-10 and the Uni-President 7-11 Lions from 2010-15.  He spent 2016 with the Tokushima Indigo Socks of the independent Shikoku Island League in Japan but I'm not sure he played anywhere during 2017.  He was a member of the Chinese Taipei national team for the Olympic in 2004 and 2008 and the 2006 World Baseball Classic.


Unknown said...

Yikes, did you happen to notice that Tomoya Mori has two different 2017 BBM Series I cards with the same #094? One of them is a hitting card and the other is him in catching gear throwing the ball. Very strange to have two different pictures with the same card number. I know that Ohtani has some but for Mori, very strange isn't it?


NPB Card Guy said...

BBM did "secret" versions of 12 cards in 1st Version and 14 cards in 2nd Version. The card of Mori in catching gear is the "secret" one. The secret versions are more scarce than the regular ones (which makes sense).

Epoch went crazy with this idea this year - there's like three to six versions of some their team set cards.

Unknown said...

Wow, thanks for the information. Any chance for you to list the secret versions of the 26 cards? Also, is this the first year that BBM produced the secret versions?


NPB Card Guy said...

I'll be doing a post in the next few days on the 12 1st Version ones once I get the last one in the mail. You can see the 2nd Version ones here. I think that Fusion will have secret versions as well but I don't know how many.

Anonymous said...

Wow ... this is great info.

Now, I can spend the rest of the night looking for these cards.