Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/11/14
The Pirates have been busy in Australia over the past few years, having as many as five players from the country in their system at one time last year. Until recently though, there wasn’t a high-profile signing from Australia. That was until they signed 16-year-old shortstop Sam Kennelly this year to a $225,000 bonus. He comes from a strong baseball family — three of his brothers are already playing minor league ball. On top of all that, Kennelly is currently playing in the Australian Baseball League with the Perth Heat, having teammates as much as 15 years older than him, many of whom have major league experience.  So far in the ABL season, Kennelly has started five games at third base, while coming off the bench another three times. He is 3-for-19 on the young season, with three singles, an RBI and one error. Being just 16-years-old and playing in the ABL against older competition has been an incredible learning experience for the young shortstop. “Playing against bigger, stronger players has set a high standard for me and I’m ready to face the challenge,” Kennelly said of his time in the league. “Being around the clubhouse with current and past professional players makes me aim to be as good as them.” Part of the reason he can make the jump to this league at such a young age is because he is surrounded by his older brothers on a daily basis. All three of them know what it’s like to be in organized pro ball and they are his teammates with the Perth Heat. He gives them credit for helping him get to where he is. “Learning from my older brothers and more experienced players has made me a better player,” Kennelly said. ”The ABL has some former and current Big Leaguers and playing and being around them pushes me harder to have the experience they have had in the big show.” For now, he knows what he has to do to get ready for next year, but he also looks forward to the next step. “At the moment, with [Perth], I’m getting as much baseball in as I can, trying to get bigger and stronger so I really feel ready to play with the Pirates. Getting all my work in and learning everyday,” the infielder said. He was signed as a shortstop, but has been playing third base as well. That’s not the only positions he’s been playing. He can play anywhere on the infield, but currently spends most of his time on the left side. He’s also pitched in the past. A few teams wanted him as a pitcher, but Kennelly didn’t want to give up the bat. Kennelly is a hard worker and takes pride in being an all-out player and playing the game the right way. “I take pride in all aspects in the game and believe both defense and offense are my strengths,” Kennelly said. “I like to try and make all my plays look and feel routine. I love throwing the ball as hard as I can to first base and making all the big league plays. I like hitting the ball as hard as I can every at-bat and making every at-bat count.” He finished that thought up, with what you love to hear from someone his age. “I don’t like to leave a baseball game clean. I’m always there to play hard and finishing dirty and playing at 110 percent.” That next step for Kennelly after the season, will be his first trip to the states, where he will participate in the upcoming portion of Minor League Spring Training. “I haven’t been over to Bradenton yet, but have seen many photos and heard so many good things about it,” Kennelly said. “Knowing a handful of people that work for or with the Pirates, they have definitely put a good vibe towards the ball club and I really can’ t wait to get over there.” Kennelly mentions that he has a “good vibe” towards the Pirates, and he credits that to the Pirates’ scout that signed him, Tony Harris. Kennelly was in Queensland, Australia at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program prior to being signed, with a few teams besides the Pirates looking at him. It was there that Harris convinced him to sign. “The way he talked about the Pittsburgh Pirates and what opportunities there were, I knew I was gonna have a great time with the team,” the infielder said. “It was an exciting time for myself and the family. I know now I made the right decision and couldn’t be happier.” Tony Harris may have signed Kennelly, but in two weeks Harris will get to face his newest signing, when Perth visits Adelaide. Harris is the Adelaide manager, so while Pirates fans won’t get to see him until Spring Training, Kennelly will likely get a chance to take on some of his future teammates. If things go as planned, he will get to face ABL All-Star Zac Fuesser in one start and possibly Rinku Singh in relief, as well as fellow Australians, Jackson Lodge and Wilson Lee. You can sense the youthful enthusiasm with Kennelly, but he knows it will be a tough road to the majors. “Right now I’m really excited to head over to Bradenton and pursue my dreams with the Pittsburgh Pirates,” he said.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Daxter Miles’ Twitter mentions light up after Kentucky blowout

Ortiz: 'Nobody in MLB history' tested for PEDs more than me

Sam Dekker scores career high after Aaron Rodgers' challenge

Brey Day: Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight after a vintage performance

Ronda Rousey on having kids: 'I'm an ovarian goldmine'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Pedro Martinez: Rose should be allowed in Hall of Fame

Pablo Sandoval 'cut things off at the root' with Giants

Scott Boras taking shots at Cubs' history over Kris Bryant

Kingdome debt finally paid off 15 years after demolition

49ers waive Jonathan Martin

Former MLBer Curt Ford assaulted, told to ‘go back to Ferguson’

Five under-the-radar National League MVP candidates

Five bizarre NFL offseason moves that don't add up

Texas to Rick Barnes: Change your staff or you will be fired

First 'National Fantasy Football Convention' to star Tony Romo

Teams that don't deserve to win Connor McDavid Sweepstakes

How a basketball-themed art exhibit changed perceptions

Bucs admit they’ve been getting calls about Mike Glennon

The last Expo standing

NHL ships nets which have room for cameras inside posts

Toronto Raptors limping into the playoffs

Best picks ever at every spot in first round of NFL Draft

Alonzo Mourning confirms “Who wants to sex Mutombo?”

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

The last Expo standing

Five under-the-radar AL MVP candidates

Michigan sent recruit's GF a letter

MLB teams that could disappoint

25 years ago, the best Sweet 16 of all time was pure madness

The 2015 bad quarterback carousel

17 facts to know before the Sweet 16

Agent: Sam was horrible at veteran combine

Keeping judo ‘pure’ in Europe means keeping MMA out

The Sweet 16 should be seen as success

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.