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Australian National Team Will Play Pair of Exhibitions Vs. KBO’s Hanwha Eagles

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 15th, 2024 3:19pm EST

Pitcher Lachlan Wells of Australia throws in the bottom of the fifth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool B Game Five between Australia and Cuba at the Tokyo Dome on March 10, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The Australia National Team will play the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization in a two-game exhibition series on Saturday, Feb. 17, and Sunday, Feb. 18, at Melbourne Ballpark in Laverton, Victoria, Australia.

Melbourne Ballpark is home to the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.

The upcoming exhibition series is called the International Baseball Showdown, with professional players from the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles taking on a roster of Australia’s best professional baseball players. The last time the Australia National Team played an exhibition series against a club team was in February 2020 against the KBO’s Doosan Bears at Geelong Baseball Park in Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

“Having Team Australia play meaningful games on home soil is always special,” Baseball Australia CEO Glenn Williams told Melbourneaces.com. “We’re thrilled to take on a KBO superpower in Hanwha in Melbourne. We can’t wait to have the team perform in front of the home fans in Melbourne in February 2024.”

“On behalf of the Hanwha Eagles organization, we are pleased and excited to host Spring Training 2024 in Melbourne, one of the most representative cities of Australia,” Hanwha Eagles GM Son Hyuk told Melbourneaces.com. “We look forward to Melbourne’s good weather conditions and the short time difference compared to Korea.

We believe these factors can increase the quality of our organization’s preparation, which would positively impact the upcoming 2024 KBO season.”

Players to Watch

Lachlan Wells, LHP, Australia – Wells was one of the best-starting pitchers this past Australian Baseball League season with the Adelaide Giants and signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Jan. 7.

He went 6-0 with a 0.94 ERA in nine starts during the ABL season for the Giants and represented Australia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Warwick Saupold, RHP, Australia – Saupold, 34, has 82 games of MLB experience from 2016-18 with the Detroit Tigers as a reliever. Although he had a rather unimpressive 4.98 ERA and 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings, Saupold has enjoyed improved numbers since, increasing his strikeouts per nine innings to 7.8 last ABL season and posted a 3.51 ERA in 31 starts for the Hanwha Eagles in 2019.

Roh Si-hwan, 3B, Hanwha Eagles – Roh had an impressive .929 OPS during the 2023 KBO season, the second-best OPS in the league behind only Choi Jeong of the SSG Landers. He hit .298 with a career-high 31 home runs in 595 plate appearances and should be the most significant power threat to the Australian National Team in the series.

Felix Pena, RHP, Hanwha Eagles – The 33-year-old from the Dominican Republic played in MLB for the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels from 2016-21 and has pitched for the Eagles the last two KBO seasons. He was primarily a reliever in Major League Baseball but transitioned to a starting role in Korea. Pena went 11-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 32 starts last season for Hanwha and re-signed with the team for the 2024 season on Dec. 9, 2023.

MLB Players From South Korea – There are currently six players in MLB from South Korea, including INF Ji-hwan Bae of the Pittsburgh Pirates, free agent INF Ji-man Choi, INF Ha-seong Kim of the San Diego Padres, INF Hoy-jun Park of the Oakland Athletics, OF Rob Refsnyder of the Boston Red Sox, free-agent P Hyun-jin Ryu, and OF Jung-hoo Lee of the San Francisco Giants. Ryu was the first player in history to move straight from the KBO to MLB in 2013 and pitched for the Hanwha Eagles for seven seasons.

There are no reports that any players from the Hanwha Eagles may be posted to sign with Major League Baseball teams soon.

MLB Players from Australia – Thirty-seven former and current professional baseball players from Australia have experience in MLB, and 25 currently have a United States-based pro contract. The most notable former and current players from Australia are LHP Graeme Lloyd, RHP Liam Hendricks, and INF Curtis Mead, who debuted with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2023.

How to Watch – Both games of the exhibition series can be streamed using the iPhone and Android app Baseball+. Game one is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3 a.m. EST. Game two is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17, at 9 p.m. EST.

If in Australia, game one is Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. AEDT, and game two is Sunday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. AEDT.

Australia National Team International Baseball Showdown Roster

Steven Kent
Jon Kennedy
Dan Mcgrath
Tim Atherton
Sam Holland
Warwick Saupold
Coen Wynne
Josh Guyer
Luke Wilkins
Todd Van Steensel

Robbie Perkins
Alex Hall

Jake Bowey
Rixon Wingrove
Jarryd Dale
Logan Wade
Darryl George

Tim Kennelly
Aaron Whitefield
Ulrich Bojarski
Jordan McArdle