The attraction of working in New Zealand has lured another Major League Baseball player to these shores as former Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves pitcher Josh Collmenter has been added to the national U15 development squad as pitching coach.
Collmenter played seven years in the majors for the two organisations with a 38-35 win-loss record, and he started over a third of his 214 games played and finished with an earned run average of just 3.64. He will replace another former major leaguer in DJ Carrasco (who is currently scouting with the Los Angeles Dodgers) on the staff when the team heads to Taiwan in July for a tournament and warm up games.
“Having someone of Josh’s experience and ability is huge for our team,” said U15 Manager Riki Paewai, who added that the team’s coaching staff is world class once again after losing Carrasco to Dodgers duties in the US. “Our (U15) pitchers will benefit hugely from someone of Josh’s recent major league knowledge and caliber, and he will be someone these players will be able to relate to well.”
Collmenter was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2007 and pitched for the Phoenix- based club till mid 2016 when he was traded to the Cubs, a team with which he never took the field before being traded again to the Braves. He began his career in Atlanta well, going 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA for the remainder of the season, but he got off to a slow start in early 2017 and in October of last year he became a free agent.
The 32-year old is also likely to play for the prospective New Zealand team in the Australian Baseball League (ABL), should the franchise get the green light over the course of the next week, and Paewai said that Collmenter would be an “awesome signing for the franchise, just a year out from playing in the majors.
“I don’t know whether he’d start or relieve, but having a guy with that ability and recent experience will be invaluable to the team going forward,” said Paewai. “But first he will be focusing on growing our U15 pitching staff and continuing the great work D J (Carrasco) has done for this talented group of young ballplayers.
“We expect Josh will be here sometime in June, so he’ll be able to get to know our pitchers before we head to Taiwan in early July,” added Paewai.