The first season of the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat’s association with the Tampa Bay Rays saw four players arrive on our shores: right-handed infielder Mike Brosseau, left-handed outfielder Jake Fraley, righty outfielder Garrett Whitley and catcher Zacrey Law.
With the quartet complementing a roster of talented young local products, the Heat finished the 2017-18 season with a 26-14 record good enough for second place on the ABL ladder. Despite looking on course for a title challenge, the Heat fell to the Canberra Cavalry in the semi-final by a 2-1 score line in both games.
Undrafted out of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, Brosseau showed glimpses of his talent at A-ball level after being signed by the Rays, and was sent to the Heat to see if he had more upside. Brosseau emphatically answered ‘yes’ to that question as his season in Australia saw him register a .429 batting average (second best in the league), .496 OBP (league leader) and .729 slugging percentage (fourth best in the league). He also hit 6 homeruns and drove in 32 runs. Made his MLB debut for the Rays in 2019.
Injury derailed his 2017 minor league season, in which he only made 30 appearances, so the Rays sent Fraley to Perth to make up for lost time. And make up for lost time he did, setting ABL records for stolen bases (39) and runs scored (50) while registering a .361/.449/.680 slash line. Fraley also hit 13 homeruns and 13 doubles as he registered 115 total bases on the season, and drove in 39 runs. Was named the Helms Award winner, the league’s MVP, at the end of season awards night. Made his MLB debut for Seattle in 2019 after moving there as part of the Rays’ trade to acquire catcher Mike Zunino.
A first round draft pick out of high school in 2015, Whitley suffered a serious hamstring injury that ruled him out of baseball completely in 2016. He showed promise in his first season at A-ball level in 2017 and was sent to Perth to continue his development. Whitley played every position in the outfield for the Heat while collecting 41 hits at a .265 average with 8 homeruns, 9 doubles, 32 RBI and 78 total bases.
After being converted from an outfielder to catcher by the Rays during his time in A-ball in 2017, Law arrived in Perth hoping to get more reps in behind home plate. However, his playing time was limited thanks to the emergence of talented local Alex Hall. Law made 10 appearances as catcher and played as DH in three more, and finished with a slash line of .333/.434/.689 with 3 homeruns and 11 RBI.