Held at Palm Meadows Baseball Complex in Gold Coast, Australia since 2001, the MLB Australian Academy Program is sponsored by Major League Baseball and the Australian Baseball Federation, and aims to improve the quantity and quality of young baseball players coming out of the region.
The Academy seeks to provide a pathway for elite players from this region to improve their skills in preparation for the rigors of professional and international baseball.
The Academy enables MLB Clubs to sign and develop young Australian and Oceania players on their home soil – allowing them to mature and minimize the impact of homesickness and cultural change when young players venture to the US for their first full season.
Over the past 10 years the number of Australians playing professional and collegiate baseball has increased 40 percent. In 2000, Australia counted 48 professional and 32 collegiate players; in the 2011 season there were 73 Australians active with Major League and other professional league teams including 57 Academy graduates. In 2011, Australian pitchers Josh Spence (San Diego Padres, MLBAAP 2003-2006), Shane Lindsay (Chicago White Sox, MLBAAP 2002-2003) and Liam Hendriks (Minnesota Twins, MLBAAP 2006) became the 4th, 5th and 6th MLBAAP alumni to make their major league debut. Hendricks was selected for the All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix and recently started his first MLB game with fellow academy grad and Perth Heat (Australian Baseball League) teammate Luke Hughes (MLBAAP 2002) starting behind him at second base and Lindsay in the opposing dugout.
While most participants are native to Australia, each year MLB clubs also send recently signed European and Asian players to the Academy to prepare them for the rigors of Minor League Baseball. A total of 170 Academy graduates have signed professional contracts with MLB clubs, these include 25 players with nationalities other than Australian (seven Czechs, four Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese, three New Zealanders, two South Africans and one each of Chinese, Dutch, American, French, German and Italian.)
This Academy was the first of its kind and has served as a model for other MLB Academies now operating in Tirrenia, Italy (est. 2005) and Wuxi, China (est. 2007).