* Tim Smith (Toronto, Ont.) left, and Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) are headed to the Australian League all-star game Dec. 17 at the Melbourne Ballpark. Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.) has also been selected to the game, while Jaz Shergill (Toronto, Ont.) could be selected also in a fan vote.
By Alexis Brudnicki
LAVERTON, Victoria, Australia – The Australian Baseball League all-star game will have a distinct red-and-white flavour this off-season, with at least three Canadian representatives suiting up for the World squad at Melbourne Ballpark next week.
A trio of former members of Team Canada were selected to the team withKellin Deglan of the Melbourne Aces, the Perth Heat’s Tim Smith, and Maxx Tissenbaum of the Brisbane Bandits. Brisbane could also have another Canuck on the roster with Toronto’s Jaz Shergill up for the final World roster spot, needing fan votes to make it in.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Deglan said. “Anytime you’re in a clubhouse with a couple Canadian guys on your team it’s always good. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a clubhouse with some Canadians so I’m looking forward to it – catching up with those guys, meeting new people. I’m just excited about the opportunity.”
The 22-year-old Texas Rangers prospect leads the league with 18 runs driven in and is second in the circuit with seven home runs to go with four doubles, four walks and 11 runs scored through 19 games. Deglan is proud to be recognized for his accomplishments down under so far and looking forward to the upcoming event.
“It’s a big honour,” the former first-rounder and Langley, BC native said. “I’m thrilled to make the all-star team and I’m excited to play in the game. It’s going to be cool playing against Team Australia …
“I’m proud of the way I’ve been swinging [the bat]. I’ve been putting the barrel on the ball consistently out here and I’m just trying to continue that and get better every day. I’m learning a new position at first base and it’s a work in progress, but it’s only going to help me moving forward in my career just to be a little more versatile, so I’m happy with the opportunity to play out here and have a chance to get better.”
Smith joined the Heat in Western Australia as part of an attempt to return to affiliated baseball and has been tearing it up. The 28-year-old outfielder from Toronto is hitting .333/.431/.533 over 18 games with two homers, two doubles, two triples, nine runs scored, eight runs driven in, nine walks and two stolen bases.
The Team Canada mainstay is also hoping to make a comeback to the senior national team roster for next year’s Pan Am Games, taking place in July on home soil.
“That’s part of the reason why I came back,” Smith said. “I know the Pan Am games are in Toronto and that’s where I’m from. I’m kind of iffy with it, roster-wise because I’ve been out of it but I want to prove I can still play and I want to give myself an opportunity.
“I’m not going to be sad if I’m not there but I want to at least give myself a shot and a chance, so that’s definitely something that’s on my mind.”
Tissenbaum is in Brisbane getting some extra time in behind the plate, converted to catching by the San Diego Padres organization before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. One of four Rays prospects playing for the Bandits, the 23-year-old Toronto native has enjoyed his time immensely and has impressed at the plate, hitting .321/.397/.500 with three home runs, one double, 13 runs scored and nine RBIs in 17 games.
“I love Australia, I love Queensland; I love everywhere that we’ve been in our off time,” Tissenbaum said. “The league is better than I expected. I was surprised coming down here how competitive it is and really how good the arms are.
“I wasn’t expecting guys to come out and to be able to pitch the way they do, offensively and defensively. I was expecting it to be [more] working on things defensively as opposed to really getting a lot out of the games like I am.”
In five starts, Shergill has posted a 2.57 ERA over 21 innings with eight walks and 11 strikeouts to go with a 1.05 WHIP. Playing professional baseball for the first time in his career in the ABL, the all-star game would be another feather in the Torontonian’s cap.
“I’m having a great time,” he said. “Basically you wake up every morning thinking about baseball, thinking about training that day, what’s going on that day, if we’ve got games. It’s a great feeling that baseball is my No. 1 concern and it’s the only thing I have to worry about. I’m loving it and I’m enjoying every single day.”
The fourth-annual event will take place at Melbourne Ballpark on Wednesday, Dec. 17 with first pitch set for 7:40PM local time. The ABL all-star game, presented by Levi’s, will be broadcast live in Australia and New Zealand on ESPN and on delay to over 70 million households in the US through MLB Network. It will be found in over 30 countries in Asia via Fox Sports Asia.