The Melbourne U Admirals have reclaimed the top of the PRCL power rankings as the Pacific Rim College League completes the 6th week of its short season.
But the question remains how long will they stay there? The Admirals have four pitchers out with injuries, including closer Sean Axworthy who was injured on February 11th, and will likely miss most of the 2019 season, in addition to the rest of this season.
One reason why the Admirals might be able to stay on top is Jasper Evans, a 21-year-old American right-hander, who already played pro and rejoined the college circuit after finding himself without a minor league contract in 2017. Evans has parlayed that experience, and a 96 mph fastball, to work up a cool 2.09 ERA so far this year, tallying a 4-1 record.
Shikato Hayashida, the 22-year-old shortstop, is another reason for Melbourne’s success. A Great Glove award winner last year, Hayashida was drafted in round 2 by Anchorage (now St. Petersburg) but failed to sign, and came back to Melbourne for his senior year. He’s put up numbers similar to last season’s, with a .338 average and a team-leading 12 doubles, and 53 hits.
But Melbourne’s hold at the top of the power rankings is thin, as the Manila U Aztecs made big gains this week, after a week that saw them shutout Fiji College 6-0, sweep Singapore Baseball Academy, split with Brisbane, and blank Wellington yesterday. Rhys Kyle is huge for the Aztecs, as January’s batter of the month continues to do damage with his home run swing, against opposing teams.
Also making huge gains this week is Japan Division’s Sapporo College Avengers, who have been on an 8-3 tear since the All-Star break. The Avengers were nearly undefeated in Week #6, after splitting their Pyongyang series with a 10-4 loss on Saturday. But they swept through Busan Tech and Kobe before putting their brooms away for their match against the league’s only North Korean team. They beat Seoul yesterday and hope to complete another sweep today before taking a day off to prepare for Tokyo.
Sapporo is the top Japanese team right now, and look like they will lock in a playoff spot after the division finally shook off the ice from their chilly sub-.500 start.
OSUMI, TAKAHASHI GET PLAYER OF THE WEEK CALLS
Japan’s Takaaki Takahashi (RF) will add a Player of the Week award to his trophy haul this year, after the 2017 JKC All-Star went 11-for-25 this week, adding 4 home runs to his total, which now sits at 10 for the season. His performance has not met his 2017 expectations, but if he keeps having weeks like this one, the 20-year-old will find himself a hot draft commodity when he becomes eligible next year.
Meanwhile, shortstop Saturo Osumi was the AOC’s top player this week after going 12-for-30 at the plate, putting 3 balls over the wall and batting in 10 runs. His season total now sits at 24 RBIs, and his average is at .317, a huge improvement over last season’s .240.
TAIPEI’s SHEELAH SEES HIT STREAK END AT 22 GAMES
Hot-hitting Aussie first baseman Cooper Sheelah of the Taipei Sports Academy Ice Pilots has seen his PRCL record-setting hitting streak stopped at 22-games, as the Brisbane College Rockets held him hitless after 4 at bats last Thursday. But Sheelah did manage to get on-base when he walked, so one type of streak remains alive as he has hit safely each game since then.