CAN-AM DUO ENJOYING GREAT SEASON AS ALL-STARS IN AUSTRALIA
Independent Baseball Chatter – By Bob Wirz
Jay Baum and Ryan Bollinger are two more examples of players turned away from major league-affiliated opportunities who moved to the Can-Am League for valuable experience and now are excelling in winter league play while young enough to have a great deal of upside in the professional game.
Baum is a 25-year-old infielder-outfielder setting a torrid hitting pace in the Australian Baseball League while Bollinger is a year older but no less successful in the same league as a left-handed pitcher. Baum was an everyday infielder at Sussex County last summer, normally at either second or third base, and remains on the Miners’ roster while Bollinger spent the ’14, ’15 and ’16 seasons at Trois-Rivieres.
The duo helped the World Team topple Team Australia, 6-4, in the recent league All-Star Game although that is only a small part of their production down under.
Baum, who had four years in Seattle’s farm system including a tiny portion of the past season before joining the Miners, is the No. 2 hitter in Australia with a crisp .411 average (23-for-56) and is getting on base at a .453 pace. He was a productive .291/.354 for Sussex County with 21 doubles and eight home runs among his 95 hits (31 for extra bases).
Bollinger, a lanky 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, is setting the Australian Baseball League pace in strikeouts with 46 in only 32.2 innings and has the third best earned run average at 2.20. He is 2-1 and has allowed only 27 hits and seven walks. The California native had mixed results with Trois-Rivieres topped by an 11-7 season with a 3.68 ERA for the Aigles in 2015.
Bollinger, who was in the Chicago White Sox minor league system in 2011-13, started the All-Star Game, working a scoreless (one hit) inning. Baum played both right field and second base and had a single and double (2-for-4) plus two runs batted in.
Photo: Hunter Cox