While the Caribbean Winter Leagues move onto the postseason, the Australian Baseball League continues its regular season for three more weeks. Hopefully Tommy Coyle and the Brisbane Bandits will qualify for the ABL playoffs, but if not, we still get to see the Bandits’ Tampa Bay Rays prospects for a while more.
Australian Baseball League: Brisbane Bandits 11, Perth Heat 6 (January 2nd)
Brisbane 4, Perth 3 (7 innings; 1/3 Game 1)
Perth 4, Brisbane 3 (1/3 Game 2)
Perth 9, Brisbane 3 (1/4)
Four games to talk about here, and quite a few interesting things happened along the way. On January 2nd, the top six players in the Brisbane lineup–including all four of their Rays prospects–each delivered 2 hits. Tommy Coyle led the way, going 2 for 5 with a homer (his fifth of the season), a double, and 3 RBI.
Granden Goetzman and Johnny Field, meanwhile, continued to be off to the races. Goetzman went 2 for 2 with a double, 2 walks, his 13th stolen base, and 2 runs scored while Field delivered a 2-for-5 day with his 11th steal and 2 runs scored. Finally, Maxx Tissenbaum rounded up the group by going 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored.
In the first game of the 1/3 doubleheader, Coyle homered for the second straight game, getting the Bandits off to a hot start with a first-inning homer. He wasn’t alone, however, as Goetzman also went 1 for 2 with a solo homer, a walk, and an RBI. Field and Tissenbaum, on the other hand, went 1 for 3 and 0 for 3 respectively for Brisbane.
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In Game 2, the Bandits rallied to make a 4-0 game into a close contest, but they just might of come back had Johnny Field not been thrown out at home in the third inning. The RBI would have gone to Tommy Coyle, who went 2 for 5 with an RBI in the game, and Granden Goetzman also stayed hot, going 1 for 2 with 2 walks, a stolen base, and an RBI. Field went 1 for 4 with a walk, a steal, and a run scored in the game while Tissenbaum went 1 for 3 with a walk.
Then, to finish up our ABL coverage, Perth finally stopped Coyle to an extent on their way to victory. Coyle went 0 for 3 with 2 walks, Goetzman went 1 for 2 before leaving the game for some reason, Field went 1 for 4 with a walk and a stolen base, and Tissenbaum went 0 for 4 with a walk.
Now we can finally talk some stats. Tommy Coyle remains one of the best players in the entire league, hitting to a .338/.421/.581 line with 11 doubles, 6 homers, 21 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 35 games. He also has a strong 27-19 strikeout to walk ratio. The Rays were hoping for a strong effort from Coyle this winter, but he has gone above and beyond what they expected.
The walks and stolen bases are nothing out of the ordinary for Coyle, but what has been especially impressive is his power. He now has 19 extra-base hits in 35 games after managing just 26 in 117 games at High-A Charlotte in 2014. Coyle’s ability to hit the ball with authority will be the key to his future, and it will be interesting to see whether he can maintain it at Double-A.
Goetzman, meanwhile, has good numbers on the season (.267/.333/.519) and is finally showing some plate discipline. In his first 28 games of the season, his strikeout to walk ratio was just 28-5. In his last 7 contests, meanwhile, he has 6 walks against just 1 strikeout. Goetzman’s power-speed combination remains impressive, and the Rays are hoping that his plate discipline is finally clicking as well.
Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League: Cangrejeros de Santurce 8, Indios de Mayaguez 1 (1/2)
Those four ABL games are enough to handle, but we should at least mention that Rene Rivera also drilled a 2-run homer in this game for Santurce. Rivera finished the RCBPL regular season with quite similar numbers to his regular-season output with the San Diego Padres, hitting to a .275/.313/.429 line, and it is nice to see him continuing to hit in the playoffs.