Auckland Tuatara has agreed to a deal with the most successful professional baseball franchise in Taiwan that will see three of their top young players join the Auckland franchise for their inaugural season in the Australian Baseball League.
The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions has won more championships, had more single game wins and enjoyed the longest winning streak of any team in the Taiwan Series.
Catcher Kuo Chun-Wei, right-handed pitcher Chen Yu-Syuan and middle infielder Tsai I-Hsuan will all link up with the Tuatara for their upcoming season.
Less than a week after securing a deal with Japanese franchise Chiba Lotte Marines, the Tuatara have formed a partnership with another one of Asian baseball's most storied ball clubs.
"We are forming some important bonds with major baseball organisations that will have a massive impact on our upcoming season and future ABL seasons, too, but just as importantly these partnerships will help the sport grow across New Zealand," Tuatara General Manager Ryan Flynn said.
"The Lions are the premier team in Taiwan and have a massive following in Tainan and all over Taiwan, one of the world's most respected baseball nations.
"We expect all three players to have significant roles with the Tuatara this season and we look forward to their arrival—and to building a long-term relationship with this first-class organisation."
The Taiwanese outfit will get a foothold into New Zealand and will scout the raw talent here as well as being able to send their players out during our summer to get game time.
"We appreciate New Zealand Baseball and Auckland Tuatara organizations to provide such great opportunity for players from the Uni-Lions Baseball Club to experience the great culture and atmosphere of baseball," Uni Lions GM Tai An Su said.
"It is going to help them tremendously both mechanically and mentally. We're looking forward to our future partnership with New Zealand Baseball, and making a contribution on and off the field with each other."
Catcher Chun-Wei projects to play a big role with the Tuatara and is looking forward to having success outside of his native Taiwan.
"I feel very honoured to be part of this league," the 26-year-old said. "It's a really exciting moment for me because it's the first time for me to play in any league outside of Taiwan. I will do anything possible to help the team to win a championship. I'm also willing to be in any role on the team, as long as it contributes to the Tuatara."
Pitcher Yu-Syuan is looking forward to joining the Auckland franchise and trying to establish himself as a professional player.
"This is a great opportunity to compete with great athletes (hitters) from all over the world," he said. "I'm really looking forward to both learning and experiencing from a variety of perspectives in ABL. Certainly, I'll also enjoy every moment there. Thanks to all the people who have put all of this together."
Infielder I-Hsuan is grateful of having the opportunity to play in the Australian Baseball League.
"Thanks to both organizations and coaches for this great opportunity to participate in ABL," he said. "It's an honour to be part of this tournament. I will seize every chance of learning and improving, and contribute to the team throughout the season. I'm also willing to try anything new to help team NZ in this tournament."
Flynn said the three players heading to Auckland, plus the commitment of the organisation to help develop the nation's coaches and young players, will now allow the Tuatara and Baseball New Zealand to further grow the sport and help those who want to be taught by world class professional athletes.
The trio will arrive in New Zealand in early November prior to the team's trip to Brisbane for pre-season games on 8 November.
Tickets and membership will go on sale this week for the Tuatara's three series of home games.