Former Major League Baseball player Josh Collmenter says there is a lot of “real talent” in New Zealand and he hopes to inspire some youngsters to great careers during his time here playing and coaching,
The former Diamondbacks and Braves pitcher is one of the first of some big names locked in to play for New Zealand's first professional team in its inaugural season in the Australian Baseball League.
Collmenter is also coaching during his time in New Zealand and has been impressed by the talent.
“There is a lot of real talent here and they’re seeing that with the younger kids getting involved and then by the time they get to 15 or 18 or whatever they’re really good ball players.”
“I know a lot of the guys haven’t played baseball long or especially pitchers so just seeing what they have naturally, it’s fun to be able to impart a little bit of wisdom or maybe a couple of pointers that will hopefully take them to where they want to go.”
“For such a small country, obviously they have success in a lot of other sports, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be able to have success in baseball.”
As far as signing with the yet to be named New Zealand ABL franchise, Collmenter says the opportunity to be part of something new, along with the coaching, was appealing.
“It was kind of an exciting premise to be part of something new and Ryan (Baseball NZ CEO Ryan Flynn) was telling me a little bit more about Baseball NZ and the fact they’ve bought over some major leaguers before.”
“It was just a good opportunity for me to one, continue my career, and two, do it in a place I’ve never been before.”
“To be part of something brand new and what they’re building with Baseball NZ and to work with the kids and hopefully give them some inspiration and see where baseball can potentially take them.”
Collmenter says he’s enjoyed a week of New Zealand winter after escaping the stifling Arizona summer but he is already jetting off with the national under-15 team to Taiwan as their pitching coach.
There is no word yet on what the Auckland professional team will be named but it's expected to be announced in the coming weeks.