With the Canberra Cavalry representing Australia in the 2013 Asia Series and the Perth Heat idle, the third week of Australian Baseball League play saw the Sydney Blue Sox sweep the Brisbane Bandits and the Adelaide Bite take two of three from the Melbourne Aces.* * * * *
Fifteen home runs were hit over the course of the three-game series in Brisbane, with the Blue Sox mashing 10 as they outscored the Bandits, 24-16, in the sweep.
Joey DeMichele led the way with four home runs in the series, hitting two in each of the first two games. The White Sox prospect, a third-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University, was 5-for-14 in the series, with five RBIs to go along with the four homers. A middle infielder, DeMichele is coming off a full season with the Winston-Salem Dash that saw him hit .246 with eight home runs, 54 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 134 games.
Batting ahead of DeMichele in the Sydney lineup was D-backs prospect Keon Broxton. Broxton also had a big weekend, going 5-for-14 in the series. He launched a pair of home runs, drove in four, stole three bases and capped the weekend by going 3-for-5 on Sunday, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. He is hitting .325 with seven RBIs and three steals after 10 games as the Blue Sox's primary center fielder.
Sydney native Trent Oeltjen continued to thrive playing for his hometown team, and he finished the weekend 5-for-11 with a pair of homers and three RBIs. He ranks first in the ABL in all three of the Triple Crown categories with a .417 average, four home runs and 12 RBIs.
Former Brewers farmhand Connor Whalen turned in the sharpest start of the weekend for Sydney, improving to 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA after holding the Bandits to two runs on four hits Sunday. Whalen struck out seven in the outing, and he ranks third in the ABL with 16 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings.
Brisbane, meanwhile, received solid contributions from up and down the lineup but simply didn't have enough firepower to keep up with Sydney's relentless attack.
Tampa Bay Rays prospect and Bandits leadoff man Joey Rickard finished the weekend 6-for-12 with two RBIs, and he collected a stolen base in each of the three games. He is tied with Oeltjen atop the ABL leaderboard with a .417 batting average, and has two home runs and four stolen bases in seven games.
Australian native and Cleveland Indians prospect Ryan Battaglia made his presence felt in his first full weekend in the ABL, hitting a home run in each of the three games for the Bandits. The 21-year-old first baseman finished the 2013 season with the Class A Advanced Carolina Mudcats.* * * * *
In Melbourne, the Adelaide Bite rode a masterful Friday night start and an offensive eruption Sunday to the series victory.
David Holman, one of four Seattle Mariners prospects with the Bite, spun a gem in the series opener, tossing 5 2/3 one-hit innings in a 4-2 victory. The left-hander struck out four in the effort, and after three starts in the ABL, his numbers include a sparkling 1.72 ERA and just nine hits allowed in 15 2/3 innings pitched. Holman spent 2013 with the Clinton Lumber Kings of the Midwest League, where he allowed 104 hits in 110 innings and finished with a 3.25 ERA.
Australian Kyle Bruggeman turned in his second stellar start in as many weeks, allowing just one run on four hits in six innings Sunday.
Dodgers prospect Blake Smith, who was selected in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, tossed two scoreless innings of relief on Saturday. Smith faced the minimum six batters, and he notched a strikeout in his strongest ABL outing to date.
Offensively, it was fellow Dodgers Minor Leaguer Chris Jacobs who powered the Bite to the series victory. Jacobs went 7-for-13 over the weekend, including a 4-for-6 performance on Sunday. He hit his first ABL home run and drove in three in the three-game set. The first baseman launched 17 home runs and hit .261 in 2013, appearing in 29 games for the Chattanooga Lookouts and 73 games with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
James Baldwin, yet another Dodgers prospect, delivered three RBIs and stole two bases as he patrolled center field for the entirety of the series.
Ben Lodge, last year's ABL Rookie of the Year, contributed to the cause with a six hits in the series, and Astros prospect Joe Sclafani scored three runs to increase his league-leading total to nine.
For the Aces, the highlight of the weekend was a solid Saturday night effort from Rangers prospect Joe Burns, who baffled the Bite for seven strong innings. A reliever this past season for the Hickory Crawdads, Burns struck out six, walked just one, and held the Bite to seven hits as he earned his first victory of the ABL season.
The bulk of the Aces' offense was delivered on Saturday night, when every member of the starting lineup had at least one hit. Royals prospect Jared Schlehuber went 4-for-10 with two doubles and two RBIs while hitting safely in all three ballgames. Justin Trapp, a teammate of Schlehuber's this past season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, finished the weekend strong, going 2-for-4 with two doubles on Sunday.
Ben Leslie, who was signed by the San Francisco Giants in 2012, went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs in his first action of the ABL season on Saturday. The 6-foot-1 outfielder began his North American career in 2013 by hitting .348 in 15 games for the Giants' Arizona League Rookie squad.* * * * *
The Blue Sox and Bite will enjoy their bye week next weekend, while the Aces travel west to take on the Perth Heat and the Canberra Cavalry return home to host the Bandits.
Craig Durham is a contributor to MLB.com.