Melbourne Aces have added a stack of key talent they believe can take them all the way to the Australian Baseball League title in 2017-18.
The latest haul comes from the Saitama Seibu Lions, a Japanese club the Aces have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with.
Three promising Lions players will call Melbourne Ballpark home this summer, with starting pitcher Kona Takahashi, catcher Tomoya Mori and relief pitcher Shunta Nakatsuka signing on for the coming season.
Takahasi is one of the rising stars of Japanese baseball. He made his debut in the Japanese professional league at the age of just 17, finishing with a 5-2 record and an ERA of 3.07. Now 20, Takahashi has featured prominently for the Lions, with the 190-centimetre right-hander starting in 29 games for a 12-17 record and a 4.07 ERA.
He is expected to be part of Aces coach Jon Deeble’s starting rotation.
Mori is only 22, but has more than 300 games experience at the top level in Japan. The 170-centimetre left-hander has established himself as one of the Lions’ most dangerous bats, holding a .294 career average with 35 home runs and 147 RBIs.
He will share the catcher’s position with Allan de San Miguel and slot in high in the batting order.
Nakatsuka is the least experienced at the top level of the incoming Lions, though he is the oldest at 23. The 191-centimetre pitcher made his debut for the Lions this season and will be looking to develop at the Aces alongside major leaguers Peter Moylan and Matt Marksberry.
Melbourne Aces will open the ABL season with a four-game series against Perth Heat at the Melbourne Ballpark starting on November 17.