One pitcher with Major League Baseball experience and eight other players with Minor League time are the features of the New Zealand Diamondblacks squad named to compete at a World Baseball Classic Qualifying tournament for the second time in four years.
Cleveland Indians pitcher Nick Maronde, who pitched in three separate seasons for the Los Angeles Angels is the marquee name on the 28-man roster named by Diamondblacks manager Chris Woodward to prepare for February's World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Sydney.
"With Nick heading a mix of youth and experience on the pitching staff, which is missing Pittsburgh Pirates reliever John Holdzkom, who is unavailable, we still have a good group to go head to head with our opponents," said Woodward." We'll obviously miss the veteran arm of John's brother Lincoln, (tragically killed in a recent car accident) when we hit Sydney too, but I'm confident in this group of ballplayers, many of whom I've coached in recent years."
Other features of the roster see the return to the diamond of former Blue Jays Triple-A player Scott Campbell, along with other 2012 veterans Riki Paewai (San Diego Padres), Andrew Marck (Brisbane Bandits), Jamie Wilson (Okotoks Dawgs, Canada), Te Wera "Beau" Bishop (Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers), Boss and Moko Moanaroa (both Boston Red Sox), Alan Schoenberger (Philadelphia Phillies & Brisbane Bandits), Daniel Lamb-Hunt (Brisbane Bandits & Bonn Capitals, Germany), Daniel Bradley (Missouri Baptist University), Tim Auty (Seattle Mariners & Sydney Blue Sox), Joe Boyce (Everett College, Seattle) and talented centre fielder Max Brown (Arizona Diamondbacks).
"Obviously the loss of the Holdzkom's will hit us hard, but there are plenty of other veteran players in this side that can pick up the rest of the team and help the younger members through," said Woodward, adding, "I'm excited at the roster we've been able to put together and really believe we have a chance to make a little noise."
The roster also features a number of players who've come up through age grade teams and also some who are currently featuring in the Australian Baseball League such as Adelaide Bite catcher Connar O'Gorman (21U team at 2014 21U World Cup) and Canberra Cavalry pitcher Scott Cone, alongside his Sydney Blue Sox brother Ben, with U18 players Ben Thompson, Jimmy Boyce, Jason Matthews and Kyle Glogoski also making the squad, while former New Zealand and Australian baseball and softball representative Tyron Bartorillo adds a veteran presence in the infield.
There are also a pair of relatively unknown pitchers in the squad currently playing college ball in the US including New Zealand-born Jacob Curry (Richland College, Texas) and Ben Hughlon (West Georgia Technical College) who qualifies through his mother who was born in New Zealand.
"Going home a game shy of winning the qualifier in Taiwan still hurts," says Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn, who adds, "so it's good to be back in a quality competition with a team who enjoy playing together and for this world class coaching staff.
The Diamondblacks team will be in camp from Monday 1 February at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga until the team departs for Sydney on the evening of February 6th.
NZ Diamondblacks WBC Roster: Tim Auty, Tyron Bartorillo, Te Wera Bishop, Jimmy Boyce, Joe Boyce, Daniel Bradley, Max Brown, Scott Campbell, Ben Cone, Scott Cone, Jacob Curry, Dewald De Klerk, Kyle Glogoski, Ben Hughlon, Blair Johnstone, Daniel Lamb-Hunt, Yong Min (John) Lee, Andrew Marck, Nick Maronde, Jason Matthews, Boss Moanaroa, Moko Moanaroa, Connar O'Gorman, Riki Paewai, Alan Schoenberger, Ben Thompson, Jamie Wilson, Randy Yard.