Brett Nicholas Roneberg
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 216 lb.
- High School Smithfield State High School
Infielder-Outfielder Brett Roneberg began his pro career in the Florida Marlins organization in 1996 as an undrafted free agent. He hit .213/~.259/.276 as a part-time 1B for the GCL Marlins that year. In '97, Brett returned and batted .265/~.362/.346 and led first basemen in the Gulf Coast League in putouts (481), assists (29, tied for the lead) and fielding percentage (.994).
At age 19, Brett batted .271/~.340/.338 for the Kane County Cougars but missed the second half of the season due to a back injury. He returned to Kane County in 1999 and produced at a .288/~.383/.413 with 79 walks (fifth in the Midwest League). Moving up to the 2000 Brevard County Manatees, Roneberg hit .261/.368/.324 with only 2 homers in 445 AB. He was 5th in the Florida State League with 77 walks. He represented Australia in the 2000 Olympics, getting to play in and for his native country on leave from the Marlins. In '01, Roneberg hit .299/.388/.483 for the Manatees and .262/.335/.421 for the Portland Sea Dogs, starting a long run at AA. He homered 16 times on the year and was sixth in the Florida State League in average and 4th in slugging at age 22. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, Roneberg hit .240/.345/.240 as Australia's starting right fielder.
In 2002, Brett injured his hand. He got into 16 rehabilitation games with the Jupiter Hammerheads, hitting only .211/.297/.263. On June 19, he got promoted to the AAA Calgary Cannons and went 2 for 5 at the plate in three games as the team's second-youngest player. On June 25, he was traded to the Montréal Expos in exchange for Donnie Bridges. Assigned to the Harrisburg Senators, he would hit at a .294/.374/.439 clip the rest of the year.
Let go by Montréal, Brett signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates system. At age 24, he batted .281/.338/.426 for the Altoona Curve. He won the Helms Award as MVP of the Claxton Shield. In 2004, he switched to his fourth franchise in three years when he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He put up a .278/.360/.462 back with the Portland Sea Dogs, cranking out 30 doubles and 17 homers and driving in 77. He again took time off to play for the Australian Olympic team; they finished as the Silver Medalists, ahead of powers like Japan and Canada (the USA hadn't even qualified for the Olympics). Roneberg was the team's offensive star with a .361 average, 7 RBI in 7 games and 3 homers (he slugged .639 and had an OBP around .425) and tied Kosuke Fukudome, Yurendell DeCaster and Yoshinobu Takahashi for the Olympic lead in homers. In the semifinals, Roneberg scored the only run against Daisuke Matsuzaka, singling in the sixth and coming around on a hit by Brendan Kingman. Roneberg singled in the 9th inning of the Gold Meal game to put two Australians on base with none out as the potential winning run in a 2-1 contest, but Danny Betancourt retired Dave Nilsson, Jeff Williams and Kingman to end the game. He also played in the AA All-Star Game that year. That winter, he injured his left shoulder making a diving catch in right field for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan League, tearing his rotator cuff and needing surgery (he was hitting .231/.351/.385 at the time). The Red Sox released him and he missed the entire 2005 season. He did play in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, batting .233/.343/.400 for Australia and leading the team with 7 runs.
Roneberg continued to be a mainstay of Australia in international events such as the Baseball World Cup, Olympics, etc. and played for them in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. He was 0 for 5 with a walk, 3 strikeouts and an RBI in three games for the Aussies in the WBC as the main right fielder. Back with Pittsburgh and Altoona in '06, he missed 2 1/2 weeks due to back problems but recovered well. He hit .303/.379/.430 with 9 steals in 10 tries as the Curve's cleanup hitter and was named the team MVP. He went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI in the EL All-Star Game and was named the game's MVP. He was second to Michel Abreu in average in the Eastern League, right ahead of another Aussie, Trent Oeltjen. He failed to make the league All-Star team as Adam Lind, Kory Casto and Vic Buttler were the three outfielders chosen.
Back in Altoona for 2007, Roneberg was hitting .227/.320/.373 through May 18 before going on the Disabled List. He recovered a bit to bat .248/.342/.416, a far cry from his 2006 performance. Roneberg then batted .231/.355/.346 as Australia's main first baseman in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He was thrown out at home in a critical play in a 3-2 loss to the Cuban national team. Roneberg even was called on to pitch during a record-setting 26-1 rout of the Thai national team. He allowed no hits or walks in the 7th inning and struck out one in relief of another position player, Gavin Fingleson.
Roneberg was 1 for 9 with a 3-run double, a walk and two runs for Australia in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament as a DH. The three-run double came against Jamie Richmond in a 10-5 win over Team Canada; it was Canada's only loss of the tournament and Australia's only win against a serious contender. Australia failed to make it to the 2008 Olympics.
Roneberg was on the Australian roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. he was Australia's top hitter in the Classic, going 5 for 7 with a double, homer, 3 runs and a RBI. He led Australia in all the offensive rate stats, beating out major leaguers Chris Snelling, Justin Huber and Brad Harman. Roneberg's solo homer off Jorge Campillo was the lone Australian run in their 16-1 loss to Mexico which eliminated them from the event.
Sources: 1997-2006 Baseball Almanacs, Worldbaseballclassic.com site, Roneberg's Family Website (URL below under Related Sites), Minorleaguebaseball.com, Altoona Curve website, Defunct 2005 Baseball World Cup site, IBAF site