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Canberra Cavalry worried about weakened league

The Canberra Cavalry think the import rule changes will weaken the Australian Baseball League, while the inaugural Australian draft has failed to live up to expectations after just five players were selected from about 40 nominations.

This season the Cavalry will need five Australians in their nine positional players and pitcher, and two in their starting pitcher rotation.

That's up from three of the nine positional players that were required last season, with no restrictions on pitchers.

The rule changes give the advantage to reigning ABL champions Perth Heat and Sydney Blue Sox, which have the largest pool of local talent to draw on. 

Cavalry operations manager Tom Vincent thought there wasn't enough depth in Australian playing stocks to justify the jump.

He said a balance was needed to ensure the ABL remained at a high enough standard to continue to develop players, both Australians and imports.


"I think the two Australian starting pitcher rule is a mechanism to lower the standard of the play, particularly if the quality of the pitching is lower, then the at-bats hitters get is therefore lower," Vincent said.

"We're pretty proactive, this is why Tristan [Crawford] is in the draft because Canberra offers a pretty good environment to play so he was keen to come down here and he's a front-line pitcher.

"He's pitched for the national team so we expect him to be really, really helpful for us."

Canberra took four players in the inaugural Australian draft on Thursday: pitcher Crawford, who played for the club in the 2011-12 season, New York Yankees-affiliated outfielder Adam Silva, catcher/infielder Kieran Bradford and firstbase/oufielder Scott Hillier.

The Adelaide Bite was the only other club to draft anyone (Corey Lyon).

The draft was designed to bolster the local stocks for the ABL clubs with small player pools to draw from, but the small number of players taken had cast a doubt on its credibility.

Vincent was delighted with the players he selected and was confident they would bolster the Cavalry's roster.

While they had gained four Australians, they had released pitcher Steven Chambers to re-join the Brisbane Bandits.

Vincent would now begin building his roster around the new rules and his requirements. Brian Grening was returning for his fourth season, Steven Kent was coming back from elbow surgery, while Hayden Beard was two weeks into a four-month rehabilitation program for his shoulder.

"We're very satisfied with those four guys [we drafted], we think that they'll help us to be a better ball club," Vincent said. "I have concerns with the draft, but it is its first year."

The Cavalry begin their season against the Sydney Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark on November 6.