Australia Announces Qualifier Roster

Australia announced its roster for the International Baseball Federation’s final Olympic qualifying tournament, a roster that will be missing several key players who are at spring training with their major league teams.

Twins righthander Brad Tippett is the only player from the 2008 Prospect Handbook on the team, checking in at No. 30 in his organization’s rankings. Tippett, 19, had a 0.93 ERA and a remarkable 7-1 record in 38 2/3 innings out of the bullpen for Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2007 with 51 strikeouts and four walks. Though his fastball sits in the high-80s, his changeup is a plus pitch, part of the reason lefties went 0-for-36 with 19 strikeouts against him last year. Fellow Twins farmhand Liam Hendriks, a 19-year-old righthander, is also on the Australian squad.

James Linger, who signed with the Braves in January, is the youngest player on the team and the first 17-year-old to play for Australia since outfielder Chris Snelling did so for the gold-medal team at the 1999 Intercontinental Cup.

Canada, Germany Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan are the other teams that will compete in Taiwan at the qualifier, a round-robin tournament from March 7-15 in which the top three teams will advance to the 2008 Beijing Games in August. The United States, Cuba, China, Japan and the Netherlands have already qualified for the Olympics.