GM Scott Pratt and Head Coach Adrian Chenoweth entered the draft with two solid pitchers and a couple of fantastic hitters.
Stefan Welch (3B, Goodwood) and Austin Gallagher (1B, Kensington) can hit for power. Gallagher had 19 home runs in the last SABL season while Stefan Welch is arguably South Australia’s best hitter in the last decade.
Couple that with Bite pitcher Jackson Brebner-Russ, a guy that can hit and also pitch, and rising arm Tom Fitzgerald and it was already a solid base.
After the draft we’re left looking at perhaps the most potent attacking line up in the competition so far.
Let’s look at how they did.
MARQUEES: Stefan Welch (3B, Goodwood), Austin Gallagher (1B, Kensington), Jackson Brebner-Russ (OF/P, Sturt), Tom Fitzgerald (P, Kensington)
Pick 3 – Taylor Travess (OF, West Torrens) – He’s been described as the “ultimate utility guy” and will be responsible for getting on base for the big bats to bring him home. The University of Oregon graduate is the Eagles import and he has been coached by former Bite-boss Brooke Knight.
Pick 6 – Tyrone Hambly (DH, West Torrens) – With Tyrone the Wasps have a reliable DH who is one of the smartest hitters in South Australia. He recently coached the U16 and U18 state teams to national championships and led the Eagles to an SABL premiership and minor-premiership. It’s not hard to see him as another leader on this team.
Pick 11 – Mitch Lightbody (INF, Sturt) – Another guy that can play around the diamond. Mitch is returning from a college stint in the USA and has experience with the Bite. He keeps working hard and improving his game.
Pick 14 – Sean Maple (2B/3B, Kensington) – Maple is part of the impressive crop of U18 national champions. He had a great Schoolboys tournament for South Australia and a great Don Rice League last season. He’s reliable defensively and will make a few flashy plays. This competition will force the best out of Maple.
Pick 19 – Tom McGarry (C/Util, West Torrens) – Another West Torrens Eagle selected and another player who can play multiple positions. Will likely catch to start the season. He has a good bat and got a crack with the Bite last season at 2B.
Pick 22 – Matt Watkins (P, Goodwood) – Matty Watkins had an epic Grand Final series with Goodwood pitching in every game en route to winning the Championship Series MVP. That included a stunning Game 3 start where he allowed only one run through seven.
Pick 27 – Dennis Christiansen (OF, Goodwood) – He won a premiership with the Indians last year. Hit .263 in an up-and-down year but has the ability to string together some hits.
Pick 30 – Kynan Skein (Util, Golden Grove) – Skein is another one of SA’s impressive group of teenagers. He is on the rookie list with the Bite and can pitch and play the field.
Pick 35 – Andrew Chesterton (P) – This was a great pick in the 10th round. The Wasps grabbed a pitcher who has ABL experience with the Melbourne Aces. The 6’6 lefty is going to be a key part of the rotation.
Pick 38 – James Bell (3B / INF, Henley and Grange) – Bell is a solid pick and a great depth guy to have on the team. Another one you can move around the diamond. Hit .265 in Div 1 last year for the Rams.
Pick 43 – Matt Rabe (P, Sturt) – An American working for the Bite this season who has baseball experience back home. He doesn’t throw hard but he’s smart and can get people out. Had a nice winter ball season and will look to bust in the Super League in style.
Pick 46 – Seeichiro Suzuki (Util, Henley and Grange) – A high school student from Japan studying at Seaton and playing for the Rams. A young kid with a decent bat.
Pick 51 – Joe Gluyas (C, Glenelg) – One of the U18 players who is now knocking on the Div 1 door. Another great opportunity for a young player to show his stuff in a quality competition.
Pick 54 – Elijah Collins (OF, USA) – If Elijah Collins comes then this is an amazing pick. Elijah nominated for the draft and said he’d fly out to play in the competition if he was drafted. Now he’s a Wasp. He just finished playing at Kentucky State and the report is he can fly around the bases.
Pick 59 – Tyson Arnold (Util, Glenelg) – Young Tiger with state team experience and Bite rookie list.
Pick 62 – William Burke (P, Southern Districts) – Got a taste of Div 1 last season with Southern Districts. We will find out if he can make the adjustments in a full season at this level.
Pick 67 – Brad Torkington (Util / P, Golden Grove) – Another two way guy looking to make adjustments to the top level.
POTENTIAL PITCHING ROTATION (40 pitches or 2IP limit, 7-innings or 2 hour timed games):
P – Tom Fitzgerald
P – Andrew Chesterton
P – Matt Watkins
P – Matt Rabe
P – Jackson Brebner Russ
They have four pure pitchers to use before they get to 2-way star Jackson Brebner Russ for an inning or two. Depth will be tested but it appears they have the bats to back it up.
POTENTIAL OPENING DAY FIELDING LINE UP
Note: Assumes Elijah Collins is able to come play in the SLBA
C – Tom McGarry
1B – Austin Gallagher
2B – Sean Maple
SS – Mitch Lightbody
3B – Stefan Welch
OF – Elijah Collins
OF – Taylor Travess
OF – Jackson Brebner Russ
DH – Tyrone Hambly
POTENTIAL BATTING LINE UP
Note: Completely unofficial. This is threatening to a major degree. If Sean Maple, a kid who hit .267 last year in the ABL and only getting better, is sitting in the 9-hole it shows how deep this line up is. Pitchers are going to have an absolute nightmare getting through the the line up. I’m not sure there’s a scarier middle of the line up than Travess – Welch – Gallagher and Hambly.
They’ll be fun to watch.