Mitchell John Dening
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 165-190 lb.
Mitch Dening signed with the Boston Red Sox at age 17 after being scouted by Jon Deeble. He played for Australia in the 2006 World Junior Championship. In the 2007 Claxton Shield, he hit .316/.381/.316 for the Australian Provincials in a fine debut. He then came to the US for the first time, hitting .301/.372/.375 as a OF/1B for the GCL Red Sox. He hit .379 against southpaws and .265 against right-handers.
In 2008, Dening hit .409/.458/.545 with 11 runs in 12 games in the Claxton Shield. He was 4th in average and tied for third in runs scored. In the US, he batted .321/.375/.471 for the Lowell Spinners with 7 triples in 240 AB. He hit .352 against left-handers and .308 against right-handers. Dening was 5th in the New York-Penn League in batting average. He was then on the Australia roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He went 0 for 1 with a run as a backup in the Classic.
He hit .261/.333/.361 with 20 steals in 25 tries for the 2009 Greenville Drive, his debut in a full-season US league. In the 2009/2010 Claxton Shield, he hit .391/.466/.594 with 17 runs in 18 games and 7 steals in 7 tries. He was third in average (after Matthew Lawman and Michael Collins), 3rd in slugging (after Collins and Tim Kennelly), third in OBP (after Collins and Lawman) and third in steals. With the 2010 Salem Red Sox, he batted .274/.345/.363 with 6 triples and 69 runs, while having 11 outfield assists. He tied for 7th in the Carolina League in three-baggers. Among Red Sox farmhands, he tied for third in triples (behind Jeremy Hazelbaker and Keury De La Cruz) and tied Will Middlebrooks for 8th in runs. When the Australian Baseball League was re-established in 2010-2011, he was with the Sydney Blue Sox but struggled at .201/.299/.321. His woes continued into the summer as he hit only .220/.303/.352 with 3 steals in 7 tries over 86 games for the Portland Sea Dogs to end his time in the Red Sox chain, having peaked at AA.
In the 2011 Baseball World Cup, he was the starting center fielder for Australia, hitting second in the order. He batted .273/.373/.500 with 11 runs and 10 RBI in 12 games. After Australia was shut out for three games, he scored their first run, getting hit by Nicaragua's Esteban Pérez and being driven in by Stefan Welch. He drove in four in a 10-inning, 11-9 win over the Dominican national team, a 3-run double off Roberto Novoa being the big hit. He had 3 runs and 3 RBI in a rout of Venezuela. He then came up big for the Green and Gold in the 5th/6th place game against South Korea. After reaching on a force in the first, he scored on a delayed double steal with Welch. Two innings later, with the game at 1-1, he homered off Ji-woong Yoon. Australia won 3-2 to tie their best finish in a Baseball World Cup and Dening had paced their offense for the game.
With the Blue Sox in 2011-2012, he hit .280/.420/.452 with 21 walks in 26 games. Had he qualified, he would have finished 4th in the ABL in OBP. He was signed by the independent Washington Wild Things for the summer of 2012 but hit .191/.328/.319 in 15 games. He excelled for Sydney in 2012-2013, with a batting line of .347/.404/.532, 13 doubles and 32 RBI in 42 games. He was second in the league in average (.016 behind Adam Buschini), 10th in OBP (between Trent D'Antonio and de San Miguel), 6th in slugging (between Ji-man Choi and Mike Ohlman), 6th in OPS (between Ryan Stovall and Angus Roeger), tied de San Miguel for 7th in runs (29), was second in hits (60, one behind Buschini), tied Cody Clark and de San Miguel for 3rd in doubles (13) and tied Welch and Jeremy Barnes for second in RBI.
Dening was Australia's leadoff man in the 2013 World Baseball Classic but struggled along with most of their offense, which produced two runs in three games. He was 1 for 11 with a walk and a steal; his lone hit was off Rob Cordemans. He hit .370 for the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club to win the batting champion in the Baseball Challenge League, an independent league in Japan, in 2013. He hit .301/.381/.398 for Sydney in the 2013-2014 ABL. In the 2013 Asia Series, he helped the Canberra Cavalry become the first Australian team to win an Asia Series, going 5 for 5 with 3 runs and 2 RBI in the finale win over Taiwan's Uni-President Lions.
After playing against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks when they visited Australia in early 2014, Mitch hit .321 with 68 RBI in 72 games in the Baseball Challenge League that summer. He moved to the Adelaide Bite in the 2014-2015 ABL and hit .249/.344/.448 with 9 homers, 28 runs and 27 RBI in 48 games; in the outfield, he had 113 putouts, 7 assists and no errors. He tied for third in the league in home runs (behind Kellin Deglan and Aaron Miller).
Dening began 2015 back in the Japanese independent leagues. With the Tokyo Yakult Swallows having lost two import outfielders (Wladimir Balentien and Lastings Milledge) to injury, they signed Mitch in May. He hit .222/.324/.345 in 64 games for the Swallows. In his first plate appearance in Japan, he batted for Masato Furuno and was hit by a Luis Mendoza pitch. His first hit in NPB came off Hirotoshi Masui and his first homer off Tadashi Settsu.
He was 4 for 13 with two steals and four runs in three games for the Aussies in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in February 2016. In the finale against South Africa with a spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic at stake, he scored three runs in a 12-5 win. He got their first run after being hit by a Kyle Gaddin pitch and coming home on a Trent Oeltjen hit to tie it at one in the first. In the 6th with a 4-4 tie, he singled off Callan Pearce to score James Beresford with the go-ahead run, then stole and came home on a hit by Oeltjen again. In the 8th, he singled off Russell Olivier and scored when Mitch Nilsson drew a bases-loaded walk for some insurance. For the Sydney Qualifier, he tied Jonathan Phillips for second in runs (three behind Anthony Phillips) and tied Anthony Phillips for the most steals.