POW honors for Deglan Down Under

* 1B Kellin Deglan (Langley, BC) of the Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces earned Australian League Player of the Week honors hitting .412 with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs. C Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.) is behind the plate. Photo: Ian Knight/SMP Images. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list …. Canadians in College 2016 Canadian draft list  Letters of Intent


By Alexis Brudnicki LAVERTON, Australia – The Jet Couriers Melbourne Aces have completed a clean sweep of the Australian Baseball League awards in Round 4, with Texas Rangers prospects Kellin Deglan and Cody Buckel winning Player and Pitcher of the Week honours respectively.

Over the four-game set at Melbourne Ballpark against the Sydney Blue Sox, Deglan hit .412/.444/.941 with two home runs, three doubles, a walk, four runs scored and eight runs driven in. The Canadian first baseman moved into top spot in the league with five homers on the season so far and is second with 15 total RBIs, while the other circuit leaders have each played in an additional series.

“He’s on fire,” Aces manager Tommy Thompson said. “He’s getting good at-bats, he’s being more patient; [with] situational hitting he’s been tremendous. He’s been a clutch RBI guy even through the wins and losses and he’s one of our hottest hitters.”

A catcher in the Rangers organization, Deglan, 22, spent the majority of his time with Melbourne at first base and has made the adjustment with ease.

“Learning a new position [has been most impressive] and he’s hitting higher in the lineup,” Thompson said. “He’s hitting in the three hole or four hole which is more challenging than he’s [experienced] in the past. He’s hit left-handers extremely well, as good if not better than the right-handers, so that’s impressive to me.”

The left-handed hitter has been effective in a small sample size against southpaws, going 3-for-8 with a double, and when batting out of the cleanup spot he has posted a .333/.357/.778 slash line with three long balls, three doubles, six runs and 10 RBIs over six games. Deglan takes the most pride in his level of production.

“This season [with the Rangers] I produced, had a lot of extra-base hits, and I drove in a lot of runs,” he said. “I feel like out here I’ve done the same thing. I’ve hit for a lot of extra-base hits and driven in a lot of runs so I take pride in that, hitting the ball hard and driving runs in.”

Deglan has been behind the dish for each of Buckel’s two starts for the Aces this season and is excited about what his battery mate has been able to accomplish and what more he can do over the course of their time down under.

“Cody’s been outstanding for us,” the native of Langley, British Columbia said. “I’ve seen him grow a lot in the past year-and-a-half and I’ve seen it all come together out here in Australia. It’s really rewarding for me and him because I know he’s worked so hard and he’s just throwing the hell out of the ball right now. It’s great to see and I look forward to seeing him pitch throughout the season.”

In Buckel’s third outing of the year, his second start, the right-hander went seven innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits with one walk and struck out 12 Blue Sox batters in an incredibly dominant performance.

“It was impressive,” Thompson said. “I’ve seen him do it before many times [overseas], usually against me as a manager. We challenged him, he went seven innings, and it was another outstanding performance by him.

“He got his pitch count up [to 97] and he looked like the Cody Buckel that I’ve seen in the past. He had every pitch working for him, an exceptional fastball with a lot of command in it to both sides of the plate, so it was a great outing by him.”

Added Sydney’s skipper Jason Pospishil: “He had command of all four pitches … We’ve got a pretty tough lineup and he kept us quiet there. We finally got to him a little bit in the seventh but it wasn’t enough. He was really good and I tip my hat to that guy.”

The California native continued to make progress on Friday and is beginning to see the results he was hoping he would find this winter in Melbourne.

“I felt great,” Buckel said. “I did have command of four or five pitches that night and I was getting ahead of batters. One of the stats I’m looking for this off-season is to try to get ahead of hitters better. Seventy per cent is the number I was shooting for and I think I was at 71% first-pitch strikes … so when I have that going, I’m getting ahead of hitters and I’m consistently in the zone, the results are typically good.”

Also 22, the hurler gives a lot of credit to his catcher, and looks forward to continuing to see what Deglan can do at the plate and working together on his own start days.

“Being down here in Australia [there’s not as much] pressure, so we get to perform more relaxed and enjoy the game, and he’s making the best of that,” Buckel said. “He’s seeing the ball really well right now, he’s being really patient, he’s trying to get his pitch to hit, he’s coming up with big-situation hits, some big home runs in key situations, and he’s calling a great game behind the plate.”

Both players are incredibly excited about the well-deserved recognition received from the ABL after matching up against the Blue Sox.

“It’s really an honour to come down here and give a good performance for the team,” Buckel said. “Pitcher of the Week is just a bonus of the win we got [Friday] night, and I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Deglan. We’re a good team when he’s behind the plate.”

Added Deglan: “It’s an honor being Player of the Week. I’m really happy with it and I’m happy we could come away with the series split there in the last game. It’s a big-time honor.”