Trent Carl Wayne Oeltjen
(The Thunder from Down Under)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 190-205 lb.
- High School Gilroy Catholic College
- Debut August 6, 2009
- Final Game September 28, 2011
- Born February 28, 1983 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
He was signed by Minnesota Twins scout Howard Norsetter in 2001. The 18-year-old hit .321/.387/.418 for the GCL Twins that year, with 10 steals in 13 tries and .233/.226/.267 in 9 games for the Elizabethton Twins. He would have been fourth in the Gulf Coast League in batting average had he played enough to qualify. In 2002, Trent hit .298/.363/.391 for Elizabethton but only .240/.321/.280 in 10 games with the Quad City River Bandits.
Oeltjen was a bright spot for a last-place River Bandits team in 2003. He hit .298/.371/.384 and led the Midwest League with 20 times hit by pitch. He was 8th in the league in batting average and stole 29, but was caught 14 times. In '04, the Aussie hit .278/.352/.337 and stole 25 of 33 for the Fort Myers Miracle. He missed time when he represented his home country of Australia in the 2004 Olympics.
At age 22, the outfielder hit .287/.369/.396 in a return engagement with Fort Myers and was hit by another 20 pitches. He batted .235/.278/.471 for Australia in the 2005 Baseball World Cup. He also played for Australia in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and went 0 for 6 with three strikeouts and a walk. Leading off for the World team in the 2006 Futures Game, he was 0 for 2. He batted .299/.378/.411 for the New Britain Rock Cats that year, with 10 triples and 23 steals in 34 attempts. He was 4 triples behind Eastern League leader Vic Buttler and finished third in batting average behind Michel Abreu and fellow Aussie Brett Roneberg.
Oeltjen struggled in his AAA debut, hitting .238/.303/.340 for the 2007 Rochester Red Wings in 97 games and stealing 14 bases in 21 tries. In the 2007 Baseball World Cup, though, Oeltjen was one of the brightest stars. He hit .523/.580/.614 with 7 steals in 9 tries and 12 runs in 10 games. He led the tournament in average, runs and stolen bases. He joined Frederich Cepeda and Colby Rasmus in the Cup All-Star outfield. He drove in Brad Harman in the 7th inning against the Cuban national team for a 2-1 lead before Cuba rallied to win in the 10th. He scored one, drove in two and was a homer short of a cycle in a 4-3 win over the Dutch national team. He scored three runs in a 7-6 win over Team Canada. Oeltjen was involved in a dispute with members of the Mexican national team. Taking offense after being hit by a David Dominguez pitch, Oeltjen stole second despite a nice Australian lead late in the game. After he was picked off, the Mexican fielders and Oeltjen began to argue and both benches cleared to join the conflict. It was the lone dark spot in an excellent tournament for the center fielder.
Trent moved to the Arizona Diamondbacks system for 2008 and hit .317/.357/.466 with 10 triples and 15 steals (in 22 tries) for the Tucson Sidewinders. He had 10 outfield assists. He just missed the top 10 in the Pacific Coast League in batting average and tied Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres for second in triples, 3 behind Tim Raines Jr.
Oeltjen was with Australia for the 2009 World Baseball Classic and remained one of their top performers. He went 6 for 12 with a double, RBI, walk and 2 steals in 2 tries. He led the team in hits and was second to Brett Roneberg in average. He was especially sharp against the Mexican national team, getting 4 hits in 5 AB; he had two hits off Oliver Perez and one off both Francisco Campos and David Cortes.
Oeltjen remained strong in early 2009, hitting .300/.358/.505 with a PCL-high 14 triples and 19 steals (in 27 tries) in 106 games for the Reno Aces.
Trent Oeltjen was called up to the majors August 6, 2009 when Justin Upton was injured. That night, Oeltjen recorded his first major league hit against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Kevin Hart. Oeltjen then proceeded to steal his first major league base. He added a home run later in the day to finish 2-for-6 in his big league debut. In his first five major league games, Oeltjen was 12 for 24 with 3 home runs and 25 total bases. He had six runs in that span. He finished at .243/.250/.457 in 24 games for the Diamondbacks.
That winter, he continued to hit with the Naranjeros de Hermosillo (.348/.406/.446 in 23 G). A free agent, he was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers. He did well with the Nashville Sounds (.301/.355/.496, 13 SB, 2 CS in 70 G) but was again let go. Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, he spent the rest of the summer with the Albuquerque Isotopes (.347/.416/.563 in 49 G) and the Dodgers (5 for 23, 4 BB, 2B, 3B). Between his two AAA stops that year, he hit .320/.382/.525 with 42 doubles, 7 triples, 13 homers, 87 runs and 27 steals in 34 tries. He was 6th in the 2010 PCL in average (between Jesus Guzman and Luis Figueroa), 9th in OPS (between Brandon Allen and Chris Davis), 1st in doubles (one over John Lindsey) and tied Peter Bourjos for 6th in steals.
The Australian Baseball League was revived for 2010-2011 and Oeltjen briefly saw time for his hometown Sydney Blue Sox (0 for 7, BB). He split the summer of 2011 between Albuquerque (.339/.429/.583 in 56 G) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (.197/.322/.324 in 91 PA over 61 G, 6 for 6 in SB). He ended his MLB career with a .220/.299/.384 batting line; he hit fine as a starter (.261/.331/.479 in 33 G) but struggled off the bench (.111/.216/.133 in 66 G) to bring down his numbers. He hit .346/.425/.596 that winter for Hermosillo.
Oeltjen spent almost all of 2012 with Albuquerque (.294/.356/.485, 8 3B) and had a brief stint, presumably on rehab, for the AZL Dodgers (2 for 5). He tied for 9th in the 2012 PCL in triples. He fell to .227/.320/.341 for Hermosillo in 2012-2013. A free agent again, he moved to the other LA franchise, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He hit .255/.345/.493 with 30 doubles and 21 steals in 28 tries for the 2013 Salt Lake Bees. He was only briefly in Mexico that winter (1 for 4, 2B, BB for Hermosillo) but dazzled in 13 games for Sydney (.435/.491/.848, 4 HR, 14 RBI in 13 G).
Signed by the Diamondbacks, he started slowly with the Aces (.219/.286/.313 in 13 G) and was released. He hit .139/.273/.250 in 10 games for the Toros de Tijuana. He was still at .296/.360/.482 in 737 career games in AAA. Signed by Italy's Unipol Bologna, he hit .277/.377/.477 with 15 RBI in 18 regular-season games. He batted .214/.313/.321 in the 2014 Italian Series as Bologna won the title in seven games.
In the winter of 2014-2015, he played for Sydney and did well for his home team (.284/.346/.519, 6 HR, 27 R, 33 RBI in 41 G). He was 10th in the 2014-2015 ABL in slugging (between Brandon Dixon and Marcus Lemon), second in doubles (16, one behind Dixon), was 8th in total bases (84, between Maxx Tissenbaum and Jack Murphy) tied Aaron Miller for 3rd in RBI. He hit for the cycle on January 8, the third player in the ABL's second edition to turn the feat, following David Kandilas and Casey Frawley.
Oeltjen announced his retirement from baseball on January 21, 2015. He came out of retirement to play for Australia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. He certainly did not look rusty, going 5 for 9 with four doubles, three runs and five RBI in three games. He was among the Sydney Qualifier leaders in average (3rd behind Eric Farris and Keegan Swanepoel), tied for 4th in runs, tied for 4th in hits, first in doubles (one over Logan Wade), 3rd in RBI (behind Boss Moanaroa and Kyle Botha), tied Botha for the most total bases (9), 3rd in OBP (behind Anthony Phillips and Farris), led in slugging (.125 over Farris) and led in OPS (115 over Farris). In the finale against South Africa with a spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic at stake, he went 3 for 4 with a walk, two runs and two RBI in a 12-5 win. Down 1-0 in the first, he doubled off Kyle Gaddin to score Mitch Dening with the tying run. Down 4-3 in the 6th, he doubled off Carl Michaels and came home on a Trent D'Antonio double to tie it. He was then part of their insurance run explosion in the 8th.
Having contributed mightily to Australia's qualification, he also participated in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, being one of the few players to have played in the first edition to also do so in the fourth.
Sources: 2002-2006 Baseball Almanacs, Minorleaguebaseball.com, Worldbaseballclassic.com, 2005 Baseball World Cup website (Defunct), Old IBAF site, Italian Baseball Federation, Article on Oeltjen's cycle, ABL website, Australian Baseball Federation