We celebrate the careers of all 34 Aussie MLB legends as the next generations of stars from Down Under cross the lines in pursuit of their big league goals. From Joe Quinn, Australia’s first Major Leaguer who was one of the game’s early colourful personalities, to recent and current stars like Graeme Lloyd and Grant Balfour, learn more about your heroes here and keep your eyes open for Australia’s next rising greats.
Aaron Whitefield | OF | Brisbane QLD, | 2020-Present
Aaron Whitefield entered as a pinch runner in Minnesota’s 10-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox earlier this morning, becoming the 35th Australian to play Major League Baseball. The 23-year-old Queenslander replaced left fielder Eddie Rosario after he singled on a fly ball with one out in the top of the ninth at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field.
Lewis Thorpe | RHP | Melbourne, VIC | 2019-Present
Thorpe was called up after the Twins used all of their relief pitchers in an 18-inning slog against Tampa Bay on June 27. He made his debut as a starter on July 1 against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two runs in five innings before rain struck. The left-hander’s seven strikeouts were one shy of the most by a pitcher in their debut for Minnesota.
James Beresford | IF | Melbourne, VIC | 2016
Beresford made his MLB debut on September 10, 2016, after a decade of toiling away in the Minor Leagues. He collected a hit on debut as the Twins recorded a 2-1 win over Cleveland. Beresford made 10 appearances for Minnesota, picking up five hits.
Warwick Saupold | RHP | Perth, WA | 2016-2018
Saupold was called up by the Tigers on May 13, 2016, and made his debut a day later. He recorded two outs in a 9-3 loss before tossing 2 2/3 innings a day later to claim his first MLB win. The Perth-native went on to make 82 appearances for Detroit across three seasons, compiling a 4.98 ERA.
Liam Hendriks | RHP | Perth, WA | 2011-Present
Minnesota Twins, Kansas City, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics
Hendriks continued his swift ascent through the organisation, and by the end of the 2011 season played for the Twins’ Triple-A team in Rochester. When Major League rosters expanded that September, Hendriks got the call and made his MLB debut on 6 September, starting the Twins’ ballgame against the Chicago White Sox.
Chicago White Sox
Lindsay made his MLB debut on 2 September, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in an 8-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. He appeared in three more games for the White Sox, finishing the season with a 12.00 ERA in six innings pitched.
San Diego Padres
Spence began the 2011 season with Double-A San Antonio, and after beginning the season 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA in 35 relief appearances, San Diego called him up and added him to the 40-man roster. He made his MLB debut on June 24, pitching the final inning of an 11-2 win over the Atlanta Braves. Despite facing three of the Braves’ best hitters — Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones, and Brian McCann — Spence needed just 12 pitches to retire the side.
Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics
The Twins called Hughes up to debut on 28 April 2010 and he smacked a home run off of Detroit Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer in his first big league at-bat, becoming just the 106th person in MLB history to do so at the time.
Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks
After participating in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Oeltjen began the 2009 season once again at Triple-A but earned his long-awaited Major League callup at the beginning of August. He made his MLB debut on 6 August, hitting a home run in his second big league at-bat and played regularly for the rest of August. The Diamondbacks returned him to the Minors at the end of the month but recalled him less than two weeks later, and he finished the season in The Show. In 70 MLB at-bats in 2009, Oeltjen hit three home runs and stole three bases, while finishing his Triple-A season hitting .303 with 64 RBIs.
Harman made his MLB debut on 22 April, stepping into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter. He appeared in five more games for the Phils before the team sent him back to the Minors, picking up one hit and one RBI in 11 at-bats. Harman hit .210 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs for Reading that season.
Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics
After five seasons in the Minors, the Angels called Thompson up late in the 2007 season when rosters expanded. He debuted on 1 September, pitching the eighth inning of the Angels’ 7-6 loss to the Texas Rangers and giving up one hit while striking out two of the four batters he faced. He made six more appearances in the Majors that season.
Seattle, Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks
His Olympic performance in 2004 helped Rowland-Smith’s stock as a rising pitching prospect, and he began the 2007 season with Triple-A Tacoma. In the middle of the season, the Mariners called him up and he made his MLB debut on 22 June 2007, pitching 1 1/3 innings of a blowout 16-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Rowland-Smith allowed just one hit and struck out two batters in his debut, and spent most of the rest of the season with the big league club. He finished the 2007 season with a 1-0 record and 3.96 ERA in 26 MLB games and began the 2008 season as a reliever in the Seattle bullpen.
After seven seasons in the Diamondbacks’ Minor League system, Stockman signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. He began his Braves career in 2006 with the Single-A Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League, working his way up to Triple-A by the middle of the season. The Braves called him up in the beginning of June when another reliever went on the disabled list. The tall righty made his MLB debut on 15 June, and pitched the final inning of a 3-2 loss to the Florida Marlins, facing four batters and giving up just one hit.
Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals
Moylan began the 2006 season at Triple-A Richmond, but didn’t have to wait long to make his MLB debut. The Braves called him up on 11 April and he debuted on 12 April, pitching the eighth inning of Atlanta’s 7-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The right-hander stayed in the Majors until the middle of May, when the Braves sent him down again. Moylan moved back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors for the rest of the season, and in 15 games with the Braves in 2006 had a 4.80 ERA and struck out 14 batters in 15 innings pitched.
San Diego Padres
After going 12-6 with a 4.03 ERA for Triple-A Portland in the 2005 Minor League season, Oxspring earned a September callup and made his MLB debut for the Padres on 2 September. He was shaky in his first appearance, giving up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings while striking out seven batters as the Padres lost to the Milwaukee Brewers. Oxspring finished the season in the Majors, though, posting a 3.75 ERA and striking out 11 batters in 12 innings pitched.
Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins
Huber made his MLB debut for the Royals on 21 June 2005, and picked up his first big league hit on 24 June, when he doubled and drove in a run in a pinch-hit appearance. The Royals sent Huber back down to the Minors at the end of June but recalled him when rosters expanded that September. He finished the 2005 season with a .326 batting average in the Minors and a .218 batting average in the Majors.
Things finally came together for Williams with the Twins, beginning when he hit .303 with Triple-A Rochester in 2005. It took more than ten years, but Williams finally got his shot in MLB when the Twins called him up at the beginning of June. He debuted on 7 June, pinch-hitting and singling in the sixth inning of a 9-8 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers
Blackley signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2000 at the age of 18 as an amateur free agent, and quickly rose through the organization’s Minor League ranks. He made his MLB debut on 1 July of that year, pitching 5 2/3 innings for his first career win. However, the lefty went 0-3 in his next few starts and Seattle optioned him back to Triple-A for the rest of the season. The injury bug also bit Blackley that season, when tendinitis in his left shoulder caused him to miss the rest of 2004 and all of 2005.
Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays
Nakamura signed with the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent in December 1997, making his professional debut for the Fort Wayne Wizards in 1998 and reaching Triple-A three years later. The Twins called him up in the beginning of June in 2003, and he earned his first career save in his debut, pitching 1 1/3 innings against the San Diego Padres to preserve a 6-2 Minnesota win. The right-hander played for the Twins as a late-inning reliever for the rest of the month before the team sent him back to the Minors at the end of June.
Stephens led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts in 1999 while playing for the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds and set a team record by striking out 17 batters in one game. While rising through the Minors, Stephens also won the Jim Palmer Award, given out each year to the Orioles’ best Minor League pitcher, in 1999, 2001, and 2002. He posted an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA for Triple A Rochester in the first part of the 2002 season, and the Orioles called him up at the end of July.
Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies
Snelling debuted for the Mariners on 25 May, 2002, starting in the outfield and going 0-for-3 at the plate. He picked up his first big league hit three days later and stayed in the big leagues until the beginning of June, when he tore his left ACL while running the bases. The injury derailed the rest of his season, and began a series of ailments that dogged him for the rest of his career.
Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland Athletics
The native Sydneysider signed with the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent in 1997 and debuted with them in 2001, two months after fellow Australian and Sydneysider Brad Thomas also made his Minnesota debut. Balfour’s first few years of his career were relatively unremarkable, and he struggled to find a niche in the Twins’ bullpen. Things came together for the righty in 2004, when he went 4-1 with a 4.35 ERA in 36 relief appearances.
Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers
Thomas originally signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1995 but was released by the club two years later because of visa issues. The Minnesota Twins snatched up the lefty hurler, and he debuted with them three years later, pitching 1-2/3 innings against the Oakland Athletics on 26 May and earning his first career save in the process.
Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Moss rose through the Braves’ Minor League ranks fairly quickly, reaching Double-A before his 20th birthday. He debuted for the Braves on 26 April 2001 and had his best season for them the next year, going 12-6 with a 3.42 ERA in 29 starts in 2002.
Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays
Prokopec first appeared in the Minors three years later, debuting for the Class A Savannah Sand Gnats in 1997. He spent three seasons in the Minors before the Dodgers called him up from Double-A towards the end of the 2000 season. He dominated his debut, pitching three scoreless innings to finish a 12-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He appeared in five games for Los Angeles in 2000, ending the year with a 1-1 record and 3.00 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances.
Cairncross got his Major League chance on 20 July 2000, when the Indians promoted him from Double-A Akron. He pitched the final inning of a 10-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals, giving up one hit and walking one batter without allowing a run. Before being called up, Cairncross had a 1-0 record and 1.52 ERA with Akron. He appeared on the mound several more times for the Indians throughout the rest of July and in September and October. The team used him mostly as a lefty specialist reliever, coming into games to get one or two outs.
Los Angeles Dodgers
In 1996, the Dodgers signed Williams as an amateur free agent, and three years later he debuted for them on 12 September 1999, pitching the final inning of a 10-3 loss to the New York Mets. Primarily a starter in the Minors, Williams pitched mostly in relief in his brief Major League career. He played for the Dodgers until 2002, compiling a 4-1 record with a 7.49 ERA in 37 games.
Anaheim Angels, Milwaukee Brewers
Born in Sydney, Durrington went to school on the Gold Coast and signed with the California Angels as an amateur free agent in 1994. He made his professional debut on 6 August 1999, going 1-for-4 in the Angels’ loss to the Boston Red Sox. He spent the rest of that season and the first part of the 2000 season with the Angels before being sent to the Minors again. He saw more time in the Majors with the Angels in 2003 and the Brewers from 2004-2005, primarily as a second baseman, third baseman, and occasional outfielder.
Shayne Bennett | RHP | Adelaide, SA | 1997-1999
Bennett debuted for the Expos on 22 August 1997 and spent his three years in MLB in Montreal. Working primarily out of the bullpen as a middle and late reliever, Bennett posted a 5-7 career record with a 5.87 ERA in 125.2 innings pitched.
New York Yankees, Florida Marlins, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds
Hutton’s first appearance came for the New York Yankees on 23 July 1993, making history as the first Aussie to start an MLB game. He dominated in his debut, earning his first career victory that day by pitching eight innings and giving up two runs while striking out five batters.
Mark Ettles | RHP | Perth, WA | 1993
San Diego Padres
The Detroit Tigers drafted the right-hander in the 33rd round of the 1989 amateur draft, and he played in their Minor League system for parts of two seasons before being released in 1991. Ettles signed with the Padres shortly after his release from the Tigers, and spent his month in MLB two years later.
Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankess, Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals
Lloyd pitched in the minors from 1988 to 1992, and returned home to play in the first Australian Baseball League during the MLB offseason. The Brewers traded him to the Yankees in the middle of the 1996 season, and in New York he flourished as a lefty specialist reliever on a team in the midst of a dynastic upswing. That October, Lloyd made history once again, becoming the first Australian to both play in and win a World Series title. He had his best season in 1998, posting a 1.67 ERA and helping the Yankees capture their second World Series title in three years.
In eight years with the Brewers, Nilsson hit .284 and made history in 1999 when he became the first Australian player to play in the All-Star Game. He turned heads that offseason, when, as a free agent, he opted to not sign with any MLB teams so that he could represent Australia in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
Los Angeles, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Anaheim Angels
Shipley spent most of his career moving up and down the Major League ladder as a utility infielder with a strong defensive reputation. In 1996, he found a niche with the San Diego Padres, helping them win the NL West division title that season. He hit .271 in his 11-year career, which spanned 582 games and 1,345 at bats.
St. Louis Maroons, Boston Beaneaters, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Spiders, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators
The first Australian to play Major League Baseball actually began playing professional baseball before there was one official “major league.”. Joe Quinn made his professional debut in 1884 at the tender age of 19 for the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. After his first year in professional baseball, the Union Association folded and Quinn’s team joined the fledgling National League, MLB’s direct ancestor. More known for his glove than his bat, Quinn led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage twice and had a .261 career batting average in 17 seasons.