When Brandon Marklund joined the Auckland Tuatara for their inaugural season in 2018, he was an unknown prospect fresh out of the collegiate system.
A year on, he's joining the team again - this time as a member of the Kansas City Royals organisation.
The Canadian pitcher will return to the Auckland Tuatara for the upcoming Australian Baseball League season on the back of a stellar year in the Royals' minor league system.
The 23-year-old relief pitcher has pitched in 21 games for the Lexington Legends at the Single A level this season, giving up just two earned runs through 34.1 innings. His earned run average sits below one, he's got a high strikeout count and has converted on six of the seven opportunities to close out a game in the ninth inning.
Marklund will be a likely contributor in the Single A playoffs this year, with the Legends securing a post-season spot as the division leaders at the halfway point of the season. While the side have struggled since that point, topping the division for the first half of the year saw them lock up a post-season berth.
For Marklund, the decision to join the Tuatara a year ago proved to be a great call. The young Canadian was identified by Major League Baseball scouts while pitching for the Auckland team in the 2018-19 season. Initially, the scouts were Down Under to look at certain other players, but Marklund's ability and performances caught their eye.
Although his tenure with the club got off to a rocky start, Marklund became one of the Tuatara's most reliable options out of the bullpen and went straight into an open workout for several MLB teams after the ABL season.
He joins a handful of other players confirmed to be returning to the team this year. Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Kyle Glogoski will again join the Tuatara on an innings limit, while Max Brown (outfield), Jimmy Boyce (pitcher) and Luke Hansen (infield) have also re-signed.
The Auckland Tuatara's sophomore season begins on November 21, with a series at home against the Perth Heat. It will be the first time the Tuatara will play at their official home ground at QBE Stadium.