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Above - Brisbane celebrate after winning the 2016 Claxton Shield. 

Founded in 2010 as a joint venture between Baseball Australia and Major League Baseball, the Australian Baseball League (ABL) continues to thrill fans in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney with a dazzling combination of Australia's best homegrown talent and top prospects from around the world. The creation of the ABL gives Australia's best baseball talent the rare chance to showcase their skills in front of a home crowd, and reinforces the existence of a legitimate pathway to the Big Leagues right in our own backyard.

Now entering its seventh season in 2016/17, the ABL has featured over 660 players from 17 different countries and territories, and has assisted with the development of players from all 30 MLB teams. ABL alumni currently represent over 150 players currently active in 27 of 30 MLB organisations, and since the inaugural 2010/11 season 19 players have gone on to make their MLB debut after a season in the ABL. Additionally, 30% of all ABL players have experience at Double-A or higher, and 23 players with MLB service time have also worn an ABL uniform.

Of those 19 players, four have made their first MLB appearance in the 2016 MLB season so far, most notably Perth native Warwick Saupold. When he took the mound for the Detroit Tigers on 14 May 2016, Saupold became just the 32nd Australian to make his MLB debut. Saupold signed his first minor league contract with the Tigers at the end of his successful 2011/12 season with the Heat, and his story characterises many of the key goals of the league: developing homegrown Australian talent and giving players the chance to shine on a global stage. 

As one of several baseball leagues around the world, the ABL proudly takes its place alongside the ranks of MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball, Korea Baseball Organisation and other top leagues around the world. However, the ABL has a unique position in the grander scheme of global baseball, operating in the offseason of elite Northern Hemisphere leagues. This means that every year, MLB teams and clubs from Asia's top leagues send some of their best up-and-coming players to the ABL to enhance their development and hone their skills.

The ABL season takes place during the Southern Hemisphere summer, running from October to February and featuring an All-Star Game between the best Australian performers and the best international players at the season's midpoint. Each year's campaign concludes with the best-of-three Championship Series and the winner is awarded the Claxton Shield, the same trophy that's been awarded to the winners of interstate baseball competitions since 1934.