Australian Baseball League logo.
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The Australian Baseball League announced on Tuesday that the Geelong Korea organization will not be part of the 2023-24 regular season.
“While this is a tough decision and we are certainly sad to see Geelong Korea leave the Australian Baseball League, the decision has been made following in-depth consultation with all parties, and in the best interest of the Australian Baseball League, fellow teams, corporate partners, and fans of the game.” said Baseball Australia Chief Executive Officer Glenn Williams in a statement on the league’s website.
There will likely be six teams in the league for the 2023-24 season if no travel or financial issues are stated in the upcoming months.
The Australian Baseball League is governed by the Australia Baseball Federation and played its first season during the winter of 2010-11.
The ABL used to be operated with Major League Baseball jointly owning 75% of the league and the Australian Baseball Federation owning 25% until the 2016-2017 season, when Baseball Australia took over sole owners for all the franchises.
The Adelaide Giants, Perth Heat, Melbourne Aces, Sydney Blue Sox, Canberra Cavalry, and the Brisbane Bandits are likely returning for the 2023-24 season. The Auckland Tuatara franchise, based in New Zealand, has not committed to playing during the 2023-24 winter league season. The Australia Baseball League will announce the 2023-24 regular season schedule and the confirmed team in the next few months.
The Victoria state government and the Geelong City Council helped the Geelong Korea organization partake in the Australian Baseball League in its first season from 2018-19 prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Geelong Korea organization was operated during the Korean Baseball Organization offseason, allowing players to keep playing after their Futures League season in the minors. They played their home games in Geelong, Victoria, Australia at Geelong Baseball Park.
With the Geelong Korea organization not playing, KBO teams will have to look elsewhere to develop players during the offseason, but those clubs will have several options.
The Miyazaki Phoenix League, a fall league based in Japan in its 20th season of operation, will run from October 9-30 and feature players playing in the Korean Baseball Organization and Nippon Professional Baseball farm systems.
Seven teams from the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Eastern League, including the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Chiba Lotte Marines, Tokyo Yakult Swallows, Saitama Seibu Lions, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Yomiuri Giants, and the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, will participate in the Phoenix League.
Five teams from Nippon Professional Baseball’s Western League, the Chunichi Dragons, Orix Buffaloes, Hanshin Tigers, Hiroshima Toyo Carp, and the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, will also participate in the Phoenix League.
The Shikoku Island Independent League and the Japan Independent League Baseball Organization will also be participating in the Phoenix League.
The Korean Baseball Organization will have two selection teams for the Phoenix League, stocked with players with three years of professional service and that are assigned to their organization’s KBO Futures League development affiliate.
There will be 144 games total during the Phoenix League season this October.