Aussie Under-17 target for major league scouts
By RODNEY STEVENS
GRAFTON teenage baseball star James Linger has rounded first base in his sporting career and is heading for second, following his selection this week in the Australian Under-17 team.
Potentially a future major league baseballer, Linger will join the Australian team for the World Boys Baseball Championship in Osaka, Japan, in August.
This will be the the second overseas tournament for the 15-year-old McAuley Catholic College student, following his participation in last year's World Championships in Mexico.
The tournament, an unofficial world championships, will be held between August 9 and 15.
Linger told The Daily Examiner that he is 'very excited' about competing in another overseas competition.
This year the Australian boys team will face stiff competition from 16 teams competing from nine different nations including, Japan, Italy, Cuba and three teams from the USA.
He competed in Australia's Under-17 team at last years World Championships, where they played strongly to win the bronze medal.
Linger rates last year's runners-up, the USA and championship winners Cuba as the teams to beat in this year's tournament.
"Last year we didn't play the US, but we got convincingly beaten by Cuba 15-5 and 17-7," he said.
In the lead up to the tournament Linger will get the chance to hone his skills at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy to be held on the Gold Coast over a six-week period beginning on Tuesday.
"I am looking forward to going to the academy and learning to develop into a better player," he said.
The Academy, a joint venture between the Australian Baseball Federation and the Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office is attended by scouts from the US major league teams, looking to sign future stars.
To Linger's credit he is one of only two athletes from regional NSW selected to attend the academy which will be attended by Australia's top 58, 15-20 year old baseballers.
At least one major league scout has taken an interest has in Linger, but must wait for him to reach 16 and 4 months before he is eligible to sign a contract.
"I have had contact from the Minnesota Twins," Linger said.
A fan of the Anaheim Angels, Linger said, "If I get signed I would be happy to play for any team."
Linger plays in the North's A grade team alongside his brother Matt and reckons his form, James rates his form at the moment as very good.
The outfielder who says his major strength is his all round game said batting is his favourite part of playing baseball.
"I prefer batting over fielding," he said.