Twins farmhand Gibbons dominates in ABL action
Right-hander hurls seven scoreless for Melbourne against defending champions
A light week of Australian Baseball League play saw the Sydney Blue Sox and Brisbane Bandits sit idle while the Melbourne Aces took two of three from the Perth Heat in a rain-shortened series. Meanwhile, the Adelaide Bite took three of four from the Canberra Cavalry in Adelaide.
Aces win first series
Right-hander Sam Gibbons shined, tossing seven shutout innings in the Aces' 2-1 victory on Friday night. The 20-year-old Twins prospect, who hails from Geelong, Victoria -- about 45 minutes from Melbourne -- held the defending-champion Heat to just two hits while striking out five. Gibbons is 2-0 after two starts in the ABL, having worked 14 innings, allowing just seven hits and two earned runs.
Twenty-year-old Dylan Cozens, who is the Phillies' No. 14-ranked prospect, provided an offensive spark for Melbourne, collecting five hits in the series, including his fourth home run of the season. Cozens has shaken off a slow start in the ABL to hit .314 over his last 10 games.
White Sox No. 15-ranked prospect Adam Engel picked up his league-leading 10th stolen base in the series, while former Minor Leaguer Josh Davies led all Aces with a 6-for-11 series that included a home run, two RBIs and three runs.
Perth's offense was led by Braves prospect Tim Kennelly, a Perth native who finished the weekend 5-for-12 with a pair of home runs. Kennelly hit safely in all three games.
Jorge Marban, a reliever recently signed by the Red Sox, continued his dominance out of the Perth 'pen and improved to 2-0 after earning the victory in the series opener. Marban allowed one hit in five innings of relief in the series, picking up seven strikeouts. His numbers are truly dazzling thus far in the ABL: In 10 outings, the right-hander has held opponents to a .077 batting average, having allowed just four hits over 17 innings. Marban is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA, and has racked up 20 K's.
Adelaide dominates, but denied sweep
The Adelaide Bite pulled into a first-place tie with the Brisbane Bandits by taking three of four from Canberra, and the Bite could have swept the series but for a nine-run ninth-inning eruption by Canberra in the finale.
Adelaide leaned heavily on its trio of Dodgers prospects, with Aaron Miller once again leading the way. The 27-year-old pitcher-turned-outfielder finished the series 6-for-16 with a home run, four RBIs and a stolen base. Miller finds himself in the top five in the ABL in nearly every major offensive category, and currently ranks first in the league with a 1.099 OPS.
Brandon Dixon, a third-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft by the Dodgers, hit safely in all four games of the series, and finished the weekend with a home run, three runs, three RBIs and his seventh stolen base of the season.
On the mound, Dodgers prospect Craig Stem improved to 2-1 through five starts with a dominating performance in the series-opening 5-2 win for Adelaide. The 24-year-old scattered four hits over seven innings, striking out nine while issuing just one walk. Stem currently holds an impressive 30:6 strikeout-to-walk radio through his first 27 1/3 innings in the ABL.
Astros prospect Chan Moon also turned in a nice series for the Bite, collecting three hits, five RBIs and two stolen bases in three games.
Canberra's offense was fueled by a trio of Blue Jays prospects, starting with speedster Anthony Alford collecting four hits and scoring three runs atop the lineup. Alford leads the ABL with 21 runs through the first six weeks of ABL play. Christian Lopes also collected four hits in the series to raise his average to .343. Jack Murphy collected three hits; he currently leads the ABL with a .397 average.
Twenty-year-old Rockies prospect Robbie Perkins also turned in a nice weekend for Canberra, collecting five hits of his own.
Next weekend will see all six teams back in action as the Aces travel to Canberra, the Bite travel to Sydney and the Heat host the Bandits in Perth.