Brisbane propelled by Rays prospects in ABL

Bats of Goetzman, Field remain hot Down Under; team chasing Adelaide

Brisbane propelled by Rays prospects in ABL

As the Australian Baseball League reached its halfway point in the season, the Adelaide Bite moved atop the standings by taking three of four from the Blue Sox in Sydney. The Brisbane Bandits sit one game behind Adelaide after splitting a four game series with the Perth Heat, and the Cavalry pulled themselves into a tie for third by taking three of four from the Melbourne Aces.

Rays prospects shine for Brisbane
Four Rays prospects have been at the center of the Brisbane Bandits' offense all year, and all four played well in the seventh week of ABL action. None performed better than outfielder Granden Goetzman, a second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The 22-year-old from Palmetto, Fla., went 8-for-20 in the series against Perth, blasting his sixth home run of the season and adding five RBIs and two steals. Goetzman is currently tied with teammate Johnny Field for second in the league with six home runs. Field, a fellow outfielder, collected five hits of his own in the series.

While the outfielders have been supplying the power, the infield prospects have been steady contributors all season long. Second baseman Thomas Coyle emerged from the weekend with the highest batting average in the ABL, raising it to .359 with five hits in the series. Maxx Tissenbaum, meanwhile, extended his hitting streak to eight games and raised his average to .328 with a four-hit weekend that included a pair of RBIs.

Adelaide pitchers stifle Sydney
In Adelaide, the Bite pitching staff held the Blue Sox to just four runs over the first 32 innings of the series, winning the first three games. Sydney avoided the sweep by erupting for six runs over the series' final five frames.

Dodgers prospect Craig Stem continued to pile up strikeouts with the Bite, fanning seven over 6 2/3 innings. The righty has struck out 37 while walking just seven in six starts this season. He will carry a 2-1 record and 3.18 ERA into the second half.

Australian Morgan Coombs continued his dominance for Adelaide, tossing eight shutout innings in Saturday night's 6-0 victory. Coombs has gone 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA through his first six starts, holding opponents to a .208 batting average.

Astros prospect Tyler Brunnemann made two scoreless relief appearances, allowing two hits in three innings and earning his fourth save of the season.

Dodgers prospects Brandon Dixon and Aaron Miller continued to lead the offense, with Dixon notching six hits and Miller finishing the series with four. Miller added two stolen bases, and continues to rank in the top five in the league in batting average, OPS, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases.

Cavalry controls Aces, takes three of four
The Canberra Cavalry were able to even their record at 12-12 at the midway point of the season by taking three of four from the Melbourne Aces at home in Canberra.

Twenty-year-old Rockies prospect Robbie Perkins remained consistent at the plate delivering at least one hit in all four contests to move his hitting streak to seven games. Blue Jays prospect L.B. Dantzler went 4-for-13 over the weekend, including his first home run, as part of a balanced Canberra attack.

Tim Atherton, an Australian A's prospect, continued his ABL dominance, allowing just one hit and one walk over 5 1/3 innings in his Friday night start. After six starts this season, Atherton holds a 4-0 record along with a 1.93 ERA. He has struck out 33 while walking just three.

For the Aces, Dylan Cozens continued his surge, delivering five hits, a home run, four RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. The Phillies prospect is now hitting .353 in his last 10 games. White Sox prospect Adam Engel also turned in a second straight solid series, collecting four hits, his first home and stealing his league-best 11th base.

Twenty-year-old Twins prospect Sam Gibbons made his third straight solid start, allowing one earned run on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. The Australian sits at 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA after three starts, sporting an impressive 17-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

All-Star Game ahead
The league's top performers will meet in Melbourne on Wednesday for the annual All-Star Game, which will pit a team of Australian ABL stars against the top talent from around the world. The game will be aired on MLB Network in the U.S.

Following the All-Star game, the Melbourne Aces will host the Perth Heat in a four game series, Canberra will travel to Brisbane for four and the Adelaide Bite will host the Sydney Blue Sox for four in a rematch of last weekend's action.

Craig Durham is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.