Season two of the Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat’s association with the Tampa Bay Rays saw them send a larger contingent than year one, and included catcher Chris Betts, centrefielder Carl Chester, versatile infielder Tristan Gray, and pitchers Joel Peguero and Cristopher Sanchez.
The Heat finished the expanded and revamped 2018-19 season atop the Australian Baseball League’s Southwest Division with a 24-16 record, but after seeing off the Sydney Blue Sox in the semi-final were defeated in two games by the Northeast Division-winning Brisbane Bandits in the championship series.
Chris Betts (catcher)
A second-round pick in the 2015 MLB draft, Betts put up solid numbers in rookie and A-level ball before being sent to Perth. In nearly 100 plate appearances Betts collected 27 hits at .310 with 3 homeruns, a couple of doubles and 16 RBI. Behind home plate in a dozen games he was nearly flawless, catching 94 innings with just 2 errors and a single ball getting past him.
Carl Chester (outfielder)
Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 38th round of the 2014 draft, Chester instead attended the University of Miami where he hit a line of .298/.386/.401/.787 with 11 home runs and 84 RBI across three seasons. Two seasons in rookie and A-level ball was followed by a stint in Perth where he played in 40 games and hit .260 with 6 home runs and 27 RBI, and was flawless in centre field.
Tristan Gray (infielder)
Drafted by Pittsburgh before being traded to the Rays, Gray arrived in Australia with a season-and-a-half’s worth of experience at A-ball level. He finished his ABL season among the leading hitters for the Heat, with a .321 batting average (6th), had 50 hits (second) and led the team in homeruns (10) and RBI (41).
Joel Peguero (pitcher)
The Dominican with two seasons in rookie ball had two winning decisions go his way from six outings with the Heat. In 13.1 innings he had an ERA of just 1.35 and allowed just 12 hits and two earned runs, with 19 strikeouts registered against the 53 bats he faced.
Cristopher Sanchez (pitcher)
The second of the Dominican-born slingers sent to gather experience with the Heat, Sanchez appeared in eight matches in Australia with 15.1 innings thrown. The lefty finished the season with a win, 1.76 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and walked as many batters as he struck out (10). Just three earned runs came off his pitching.
Rafael Valenzuela (coach)
A left-handed bat and infielder, Valenzuela was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 25th round of the 2006 MLB draft before being traded to the Houston Astros. He spent three seasons in the Astros’ system, playing as high as Double-A ball, before going into coaching. He joined the Rays’ staff in 2016, first with the Gulf Coast League Rays before spending time in Perth.
Alberto Bastardo (coach)
A left-handed pitcher who had a 10-year playing career in the Baltimore and LA Dodgers systems, Bastardo also spent time playing in Mexico before taking up coaching.