Nick Tanielu's arrival at the Auckland Tuatara could not have come at a more crucial time in the season.
The Houston Astros infield prospect joins the Tuatara this weekend for the second half of their Australian Baseball League campaign, with the team fighting to stay in the playoff hunt.
The Tuatara have battled to a 6-13 record through the start of their maiden campaign, struggling to overcome quiet bats and errors in the field on a frequent basis. While they've been able to put it all together at times, manager Steve Mintz was confident Tanielu's arrival would help be a welcome boost as the team host the Adelaide Bite in Mt Gambier.
"Obviously we wish we were in a better place than we are right now, but being able to add someone of his calibre at this time of the season can only help us," Mintz said.
"Hopefully he's in form and been doing the things he needs to do to be ready to play. Obviously with live baseball, it takes a little bit to get going again so hopefully he'll be able to hit the ground running."
Since making his debut in the minor leagues, Tanielu has shown plenty of talent with bat in hand to boast a .295 average at the plate, with an on-base percentage of over 34 per cent. He's been just as reliable in the field, averaging just one error per seven games played. While spending most of his time at second base, the 26-year-old as also shown he's more than capable of covering the corners as well.
Tanielu will join the Tuatara on Saturday, missing the opening game against Adelaide, who currently hold the wild card spot in the playoff picture.
Mintz was hoping his squad would be able to get things underway in a similar fashion to how their series against Geelong-Korea started last week, with the Tuatara winning the opener 10-5. However, the team could not afford to be as inconsistent across the series against Adelaide as they were in the tilt against Geelong-Korea, which they split 2-2.
"We made one costly error in both of the games and that was pretty much the deciding factor in both of those losses.
"Baseball's a fickle thing; what happens from day to day, it's hard to tell … (but) we're still in this race. We've got to keep learning and keep pushing."