MODESTO — On a Modesto Nuts team scrambling for runs and hits, David Kandilas has emerged as a steady offensive contributor.
The 22-year-old Australian outfielder leads the Nuts with a .318 average, 14 hits and a .362 on-base percentage, and on Tuesday Kandilas found himself in the cleanup spot for Modestos game against Visalia - not bad for a guy who has 13 homers in 755 career minor league at-bats.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent, Kandilas had the honor of representing his country as a member of the Australian team in the recent World Baseball Classic.
BVB: Tell me about the experience of playing in the World Baseball Classic. DK: It was one of the highlights of my career - an amazing thing to be able to represent my country at the Classic. It was a great honor and something Ill never forget.
BVB: I havent had the chance to check out the stats, so how much did you get to play? DK: I didnt get to play much. I was the fourth outfielder and got into one game on defense but didnt get an at-bat. Just being with all the veteran guys was a great experience. I learned a great deal about myself and to be able to compete at that level, then come back to this level gives me confidence that Im going to succeed. Its having the want-to and whether you really want to succeed.
BVB: One of the nice things, in addition to the experience, is that there was a stipend involved for the players who participated.
DK: I made in two weeks of the Classic what I made all last season in Asheville, so that helps. It goes more to show how little we make playing minor league baseball.
BVB: Weve had a few Aussies come through Modesto in the last few years, and two of them -- Adam Bright and Shane Lindsay -- were your teammates in the Classic.
DK: Theyre great guys and it was great for all three of us - signed by the same scout - to all be on the national team together. Im sure they cherished it as much as I did.
BVB: I know you were a swimmer and ran track growing up, so what pushed you toward baseball? DK: I had some options. I was going to go into track, but I didnt see a future in it as far as being able to make a living. That was what pushed me toward baseball. I played a lot of sports growing up. but its ironic that an Australian ends up playing baseball over here because its not one of our bigger sports. A lot of kids play, but not at a high level. The Classic helps us spread the game world-wide.
BVB: Give me a sense of how exciting it was for you and for Australia when Adam Scott won the Masters on Sunday. DK: I was watching the Masters here and it certainly was exciting. It was great to see a few players in the top 5. I didnt know until afterward that he was the first Australian to win the Masters, and I read about how Greg Norman blew a six-shot lead, but that just shows you how hard it is to win that type of an event.
BVB: There seemed to be a lot of national support for him, and I know that every time you play a game in Modesto there are at least two Aussie Web sites that give updates. DK: There is a commitment in Australia to all athletes competing elsewhere, no matter the sport. Were tight and we all root for each other. Its nice to know theres a big support base back home and I know I have a lot of fans back home in addition to my family and friends. Its tough with the time difference, but when it comes down to it Im here to chase my dream so I have to make sacrifices along the way.