Trent Oeltjen is from Sydney, Australia, but is living the American dream.
"Baseball really isn't that big in Australia," said Oeltjen, a left-hand hitting outfielder. "It's probably 7th or 8th on the list. Rugby and cricket are of course the 1-2 punch. But it's getting bigger and bigger with more and more Aussies making the Major Leagues."
Oeltjen is in fact the 25th Australian to play in the Majors. Oeltjen made his MLB debut in 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and has also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Albuquerque. His 99 Major League games put him 6th on the all-time list for Australian born players.
So how does a kid from Sydney make it all the way to the big leagues? Well, his father is American and played baseball.
"I started on a tee ball team like all American kids do when I was five or six," Oeltjen said. "I got drafted professionally when I was 17 right out of high school, and I've been doing it ever since."
Oeltjen won a silver medal playing for Australia in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and was also a member of Australia's 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic teams. But his dream is to get back to the Majors.
"I hope things work out with the Angels organization," he said. "I love being here in Salt Lake."
Many of the Bees players are familiar with Oeltjen, having played against him the last few years, but it was a shock to some when they heard his strong accent.
"I wanted to imitate him," said first baseman Efren Navarro. "You know, 'good day, mate,' or something."
"We give him a couple 'Aussie Aussie Aussies, or a couple 'Ay mates,'" said Bees pitcher Matt Shoemaker. "But he's a real great guy who is fun to hang around with."
"A lot of my teammates, they'll give it to me and put on some lame Aussie accents," Oeltjen said with a smile. "But it's all in fun."
Besides, sometimes that accent works to his advantage.
"How can you get mad at a guy with that accent?" said manager Keith Johnson.