WBC Spotlight: Rockies David Kandilas

We are very excited to have guest writer Martin Kandilas give us a history of baseball in Australia, as well as his son David Kandilas. David is one of our Rockies selected to represent his home country in the World Baseball Classic.

 

BASEBALL IN AUSTRALIA

Australian Baseball League

Baseball has been played in Australia for more than a century. Australia is the seventh country in the world to produce a Major League player, with the first being Joe Quinn, who played for the St Louis Maroons in 1884. To date, 31 Australians have played Major League Baseball. The first ‘modern era’ Australian was Craig Shipley, who made his debut in 1986. Probably the best known Aussie Major League player is David (‘Nilly’) Nilsson (C / OF 1B) who had 9 seasons with Milwaukee and is the only Australian to have appeared in the All-Star game (1999).

 

Grant Balfour

Fiery RHP Grant Balfour (Oakland) made his ML debut in 2001 and is probably the most well-known Australian player at the moment. About 35 Australians play Minor League Baseball and about 150 are in College ball. There are five active Aussie Major League players. Most are signed as Non Draft Free Agents.

The ABL (Australian Baseball League) was ‘reborn’ in 2010 with help from Major League Baseball. The old ABL folded in the late 90’s with large debts and franchises that just couldn’t agree on just about everything.

There are six teams in the ABL, representing our Capital cities and a couple of dozen Aussie Minor Leaguers participating. Several Australian Major League players also compete when their Clubs permit them to do so. The season runs from early November to late February. About 20 US-based minor league players and a few from Korea and Japan supplement the local players. The ABL is recognized by Major League Baseball as a bona fide Winter League and it’s a great platform for a career in pro baseball.

 

DAVID KANDILAS’ EARLY YEARS

David Kandilas - Aged 10

22 year-old David Kandilas plays in the ABL, and is currently the only active Australian player with the Colorado Rockies. A recent signing, 18 year-old Catcher Robbie Perkins will report for Spring Training this coming March.

 

David was born and bred in Sydney, and he started in T-Ball as a four year-old. He was so keen to play that we had to get special permission. After getting a home run at his second ever at-bat he was completely hooked.

Growing up, David was your typical active Australian kid. He played cricket (arguably Australia’s most popular sport) soccer and tennis. He was a very good swimmer and a member of the State 4×50 meter freestyle relay team. All the while he was playing baseball too.

 

David hits a triple in the u/14 Nationals tournament (aged 13)  check out the skinny legs!In 2000 the family went to the Gold Medal baseball game between USA and Cuba at the Sydney Olympics. At the game the family met Jay and Tracy Squires from Colorado Springs, and little did we know at the time, it was the beginning of a great and lasting friendship. Jay asked David what he wanted to do when he grew up. Without hesitation, David pointed to the field and said, “I want to be a professional baseball player in America.” I’ll always remember Jay’s reply: “Well, if you work real hard and give it your best every time, you just never know. Dreams can come true.”

Seven years later, the dream did come true.

With David Nilsson (right)David never sat still. By the time he was 11 years old he was throwing so hard that most kids couldn’t catch the ball. He made his first District Representative baseball team and that was followed with New South Wales (his home State) Baseball at u/14, u/16 and u/18 age. He played 3B, 2B, OF, C and P.

In 2006 David earned a scholarship with the NSW Institute of Sport baseball program and during testing recorded an outfield throwing velocity of 100.6 mph and a distance of 390 ft. He excelled at track and field, and at 16 clocked even time for the hundred.

David was invited to the MLBAAP (Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program) headed up by former All-Star David Nilsson (pictured to the right with David). He was a great help to David. Whilst ‘Nilly’ gave David some opportunities on the mound (he was hitting mid to high 80’s with a good curve and change-up) it soon become evident that if he wanted to get a contract then he had to get back to hitting. David walked off the mound and then led the Academy in just about all offensive categories while taking some amazing OF catches.

Reunited with our great friends Tracy and Jay SquiresMost Major League Clubs have scouts in Australia; and most attend the Academy. Rockies’ scout Phil Allen is no exception and in fact he coaches there. He was alerted to David when he was only 13 years old. Over the years Allen had signed RHP Shane Lindsay, LHP Adam Bright, RF Dean Marnell, John Edwards (C converted to RHP) and several others. Shane Lindsay was traded to the Chicago White Sox and made his MLB debut in 2011. Adam Bright was at AA Tulsa for 3 years before being released in 2011.

Phil knew about David’s performances at the Institute of Sport, and after his performances at the MLBAAP, and playing in a National u/23 national tournament (aged 17) hitting .765 including 3 HR the writing was on the wall. But before inking with the Rockies, David got offers from seven Major League Clubs.

 

DAVID’S PROFESSIONAL CAREER

Rockies Spring Training (2009)

David’s professional career started a little slowly, playing three seasons with the R+ Casper Ghosts. In 2009, for reasons unknown he was played very sparingly and only had 28 games. He often sat for
4 days straight
. An off-field injury didn’t help either. In 2010 he again had limited game time due to a tricky hamstring but still managed .292/.383/.675

The Club told David that in effect, as he’d only had the equivalent of a full season during 2009 and 2010 he was being sent back to Casper in 2011. Fully healthy, and as lead-off playing CF David led the team in almost every offensive category. He posted .398/548/.946 and really enjoyed the season. He got a Pioneer League record 10 triples and made the All-Star team. Further highlights were hitting for the cycle, and having a truly wonderful host family in Casper. Home cooked meals and brownies went down well (thanks Ellen and Paul Parke!)Australian Team AAA IBAF World Championships

David hit for the cycle again later that same year in the ABL (Australian Baseball League) which is affiliated with Major League Baseball and funded in part by the ML. The ABL is equivalent to around Minor League A+ level. He also drew five consecutive unintentional walks in a nine inning ABL game, which is an Australian record.

In 2012 David played 83 games for Class A Asheville Tourists and had a truly enjoyable season. The Tourists won the SAL Championship and David was immensely proud of his team-mates. He is hopeful of rejoining the nucleus of that champion team at A+ Modesto this coming season. But before that he will represent Australia in the WBC. “It’s a dream come true. I’m proud and honored to be able to represent my Country” he said.

David is looking forward to big things in 2013.

Martin Kandilas

Feb 26, 2013


Hitting a triple in 2011 at Casper

Be sure to catch David and team Australia as they take on Chinese Taipei. The game will be broadcast on the MLB Network this Friday, March 1st at 9:30 PM.
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jaredean
Admin
jaredean
7 years ago

Martin, i just wanted to say thank you again for taking the time to write this up and get me the pictures. We are all very excited for your son to be in the WBC and as a representative of our team that we love! This excellent insight into the history of baseball in Australia, as well as David’s growing will make watching Australia beat Taipei all the sweeter!

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
7 years ago

It is so wonderful for Mr. Martin K to take the time out to write David’s biography. We are so pleased to have someone get up and personal with us dedicated Rockies fan at RWO. I would hope that your time to write would influence other Rox organization players’ family members to write about their own players. It would be so cool if we get several more like Martin’s column. A very nice change of scenery to talk about the… Read more »

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
7 years ago

Very cool write up and bio. Thank you very much!

Ike
Ike
7 years ago

Very nice! What a fun and interesting read. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Bob in WV
Bob in WV
7 years ago

This was great, Martin. Having spent some time around Emerald, Queensland working with the mines there, I have a great appreciation for Australia and its people. I will certainly be following David’s career closely in the future and wish him the very best. I look forward to the day we see him on the field at Coors.

TJinPhoenix
TJinPhoenix
7 years ago

Just wanted to echo everyone’s thanks for taking the time to write this. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we really do enjoy EVERY bit of Rockies news/insight and always wish to know more about the players. Sounds like a heck of a 2011-I think the only time I hit for a cycle was in whiffle ball around 9-10 yrs old (with ghost runners of course). Best of luck to the entire family and I’ll be… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
7 years ago

Martin, thank you for the very informative post. You answered a lot of the questions I had about Australian baseball, and I’m setting my DVR to catch Australia’s WBC games. Best of luck to David. He’s obviously a tremendous athlete. No knock on Australian baseball, but I would imagine that the transition to professional American baseball may take a bit longer for Australian players since the overall level of talent in Australian leagues is probably a bit below what we… Read more »

Jaredean
Jaredean
7 years ago

Was hoping to see David tonight. Tough loss for Australia.

Martin
Martin
7 years ago

Thanks to everyone so far for the positive comments and encouragement – most appreciated!

Will
Will
7 years ago

That was a great story Martin! The love and pride you must have for your son shone through and its easy to see how proud you must be. Had no idea just how hard it must be for a young guy to get somewhere in a sport that seems is hardly played in Australia. Until I saw your story I didn’t even know there was a league down there. And just watched the WBC game Australia -v- Korea. I see… Read more »

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
7 years ago
Reply to  Will

Great comments Will…Martin told me you were visiting him and, although a Dodger fan, you root for the Rockies on occasion (as well as wherever David is playing!) Great to have you stop by the site and you are always welcome!

jaredean
Admin
jaredean
7 years ago

Just heard from Martin:

David just got a call and was told he is on the bench. He was told “come prepared to play”.

The club is giving him a taste of things to come, and David is happy beyond belief.

Small steps…..

Minsniniugh
Minsniniugh
7 years ago

It is hard to come across knowledgeable men and women on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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