In the first major signing news of the Australian Baseball League off-season, the Melbourne Aces has secured the signatures of two of Australian baseball's highest-rated players.
Former Brisbane Bandits and Adelaide Giants outfielder Aaron Whitefield and former Perth Heat infielder Robbie Glendinning will suit up for the Melbourne Aces in the 2022/23 ABL season.
Looking to continue its dominance of late in the league after winning the last two Claxton Shield titles, Melbourne Aces General Manager Justin Huber said that adding two players of this calibre will be great for the team.
“Adding Glendinning and Whitefield to the Aces roster is a huge step towards defending the Claxton Shield title and completing the three-peat”, Huber toldthe club's website.
Whitefield, a two-time Helms Award winner as the league's best player in 2017 (with the Bandits) and 2020 (with the Giants), he also become Australia's 35th Major League Baseball debutant when he entered a July 25 2020 game for the Minnesota Twins in a pinch-runner situation against the Chicago White Sox.
Whitefield first signed a contract with the Minnesota Twins organisation in 2015 where he started at a rookie-level in the then-called Gulf Coast League, working his way up to Double-A.
He got the call-up to the top level and played three games for the Twins, scoring his first MLB run on July 26 2020, and getting his first MLB at-bat on July 29 2020.
After a full 2021 season playing for the Minnesota Twins' Double-A affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge, however, in November, Whitefield signed with a new MLB organisation; the Los Angeles Angels.
Over the course of his ABL career, Whitefield has played 169 games, tallying 93 hits, along with 129 runs, 64 stolen bases, boasting a career .313 batting average.
In his 2016/2017 Helms Award-winning ABL season, Whitefield finished the season with a .292 batting average with 31 hits and 25 runs with 11 RBIs. In the 2019/20 ABL season, Whitefield won the Helms Award after hitting .376 across 35 games, including 47 hits for 28 runs and 24 RBIs.
Already a three-time Claxton Shield winner with the Brisbane Bandits, Whitefield is looking forward to contributing to another Claxton Shield-winning season, this time with the Melbourne Aces.
"I am really excited to come back to the ABL after a few years of not playing at home. I’m even more excited to be with the Melbourne Aces and help keep the championship and Claxton Shield in Melbourne", he told the club's website.
Joining Whitefield as one of the Melbourne Aces' newest signings is Glendinning, the 2019 ABL Rookie of the Year. In that 2018/19 season, he played 40 games for 52 hits, 30 runs, 31 RBIs and a .335 batting average.
After signing with the Kansas City Royals organisation earlier this year, Glendinning was originally picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates organisation via the 2017 MLB Draft after attending the College of Missouri. The 26-year-old is on the comeback from Tommy John's surgery, as he prepares for his first Minor League season since 2019.
In his ABL career, Glendinning has appeared in 109 games, recording 140 hits and 90 runs with 94 RBIs for a .343 batting average. In the 2018/19 ABL season where he won Rookie of the Year, he picked up 36 hits for 18 runs, 25 RBIs and a batting average of .364.
Glendinning referenced Melbourne Aces coach Peter Moylan and the form the organisation has been in throughout the past couple of seasons as reasons why he's excited to make the move across the country.
“I’m super excited for a new environment and excited to be amongst my new teammates. Peter Moylan was a huge reason for my desire to play for the Melbourne Aces, and I am excited to learn as much as I can from him," he told the Melbourne Aces website.
"I can’t wait for the new ABL season to start after not being able to play any games in Australia following my injury. Melbourne have had a great run these last couple of years, and I am looking forward to helping keep that run going.”