Following the reduced game season in 2020, with many minor league players taking the year off, there has been a need to get players as much playing time as possible. The Arizona Fall League also was cancelled, taking another opportunity out. Some of the international leagues are in play, but not as many as usual. One league that will be in play starting at the end of the year is the Australian Baseball League, who usually plays November through January, during the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere. The Brewers have a connection to one team in the ABL: David Nilsson, a former catcher who is now the Director of Baseball Operations for the Brisbane Bandits. Nilsson has been working with the Brewers to establish a partnership between the two teams, and they officially announced that partnership early this morning.
The Brisbane Bandits are pleased to announce a new MLB partnership with the @Brewers.— Brisbane Bandits (@BrisbaneBandits) November 19, 2020
Bandits Director of Baseball Operations and Brewers 8 year veteran Big League catcher David Nilsson AM broke the news of the partnership today.
read more here:https://t.co/wNF3Jlrsso pic.twitter.com/SagTsoX0Hx
The Brewers have partnered with the Bandits in the past, and are now renewing that partnership this offseason. David Nilsson had the following to say about the partnership:
“I am pleased to renew a partnership that began close to 30 years ago when the Milwaukee Brewers first sent players to the Brisbane Bandits.” Nilsson said. “They have been fantastic working around the obstacles of Covid19 and their players are committed to joining Brisbane”
In addition, Vice President of Minor League Operations Tom Flanagan said the following:
“The Brewers are excited to partner with the Bandits by having our players and coach take part in the ABL this season. Having former Brewers all-star David Nilsson manage Brisbane, and allowing our players to learn under his tutelage is something we are very much looking forward to”.
The ABL is scheduled to play a reduced 24 game schedule in December and January this season, with two divisions focused in main hub areas. Brisbane is part of the International Conference, which will contain Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, and Geelong-Korea. A potential fifth international team could join them as well, but that has not been announced. The majority of the season will take place in a New Zealand hub, but Auckland and Brisbane will each host a series as well before going to the hub. They will play seven-inning games with some doubleheaders as well. This will lead into a playoff to end the season. The other conference is the Australian Coference, which will contain Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. They will also play a 24-game schedule, but they will do traditional home & away games of nine innings.
Details of which players will participate in the league will be announced at a later date.
EDIT: Thanks to Jim Goulart on Twitter, I was informed that the plan posted above it out of date. Two teams have decided to sit out the upcoming season due to restrictions around COVID, and not being able to come up with a plan that worked for their team. Geelong-Korea had decided to sit out the season, and Auckland will sit out as well. No details on the new plan for the teams has been announced yet, though the story from Auckland suggests a six-team league, with a schedule to be announced next week.