Jon Deeble: Aussie baseball ready to take off
BASEBALL: Team Australia coach Jon Deeble believes we could be on the verge of an unprecedented era for the sport Down Under.
Thus, the timing of his team's series against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, starting with the Los Angeles team at the SCG tonight, could not be better.
"We had 28 kids signed last year from Australian Baseball League academies for a combined $4.5 million, to go and play in America," Deeble said.
And those impressive numbers are sure to continue which, hopefully according to Deeble, could one day lead to a dedicated baseball stadium and facility.
"We've got so many Australians playing in the major and minor leagues now and we've got 25 talent scouts in this region," he said.
"Those talent scouts such as David Nilsson and Graeme Lloyd are helping to bring figures around the $100 million-mark to our economy.
"So surely we'd be able to get a dedicated stadium soon."
Deeble, who has been around Australian baseball for 30 years, doubles as an Asia-Pacific talent scout for the Boston Red Sox.
He went to Japan on an Indiana Jones-like covert mission in 2008 to help the reigning champions sign star relieving pitcher Junichi Tazawa.
Thus, Deeble was delighted to see Sunshine Coast teenager Jack Barrie sign a lucrative deal with the Minnesota Twins last month, citing the 18-year-old has tremendous power and speed.
Deeble said tonight's game against the Dodgers had the potential to be a high-scoring affair because of the cricket pitch in the fast SCG outfield.
"The ball will really fly on this field. I saw the Dodgers guys hitting it into the upper decks, with balls going about 160 metres," he said.
"They've got offensive guys like Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig who earn about $25 million a year, but the key for us is we've got great defence.
"We've got Stefan Welch (who just signed with the Red Sox) on third base and Todd Van Steensel who can pitch at 155km/hr - they can both go a long way in the game.
"We beat the Seattle Mariners in 2009, so we can hold our own. The boys are just so excited to be a part of history."