Recently called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers to fill the vacated 40-man roster spot left behind by Ronnie Belliard, Trent Carl Wayne Oeltjen is an Australian-born outfielder with great speed and a high Triple-A batting average.
Oeltjen was born in Sydney on February 28, 1983 and began playing baseball when he was very young. Growing up he played on several All-Star NSW teams, the equivalent of Little League All-Stars. The teams are denoted with the letter "U" and their age. According to baseball.com/au, Oeltjen played on the 14-year-old, 16-year-old, and 18-year-old squads.
When Oeltjen was 18, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins after being heavily scouted by Major League teams and other Australian professional teams. The outfielder immediately began his professional career with the Twins' rookie league team, the GCL Twins.
While in the rookie league and attending Gilroy College in his native Sydney, Oeltjen batted .321 and before season's end was promoted to the next level with the Elizabethton Twins, located in Tennessee.
In 2003, Oeltjen was promoted to the Single-A Quad City River Bandits. He played 123 games for the Bandits before joining the Fort Myers Miracle in 2004. However, then 21-year-old Oeltjen didn't play in too many matchups for the the Miracle due to his participation in the 2004 Athens Olympics for the Australia national baseball team. The team earned a silver medal and Oeltjen was an instrumental piece to their success.
While continuing his career, the 6'1", 190 lb lefty represented the 2005 Australian World Cup team. In he following year, he played for Australia in the World Baseball Classic. His batting average was over .500 during the Classic, and Oeltjen began receiving increased attention. However, by 2007 the Twins no longer saw the participation necessary for a player to mature to the Major League level, and released Oeltjen.
In 2008, the Arizona Diamondbacks signed him as a free agent and assigned him to the Tucson Sidewinders. Trent would participate in the 2009 World Baseball Classic before moving on to the D'back's Triple-A Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League. There Oeltjen would post a .505 slugging percentage, impressive enough to get a call-up for the injured Justin Upton.
On August 6, 2009, Trent Oeltjen made his major league debut. He hit a home run, stole two bases, and finished 2-for-6 on the day against the Pittsburgh Pirates. According to several sources, Oeltjen collected 12 hits in his first five ML games.
The young outfielder was sent down to vacate a roster spot for Chris Young, but was called up for roster expansion in September. In 24 games for Arizona, Oeltjen batted .243 with three home runs and three stolen bases.
However, following the season the Diamondbacks released him, and Oeltjen was a free agent. The Milwaukee Brewers signed the speedy slugger and invited him to spring training. Things never really materialized in Wisconsin, and the outfielder never saw a Major League game for the Brewers. In July 2010 Oeltjen was granted his release.
The Dodgers saw something in Trent that apparently others had missed, and signed him to a minor league deal. He was assigned to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes and batted .347 in just under 50 games. When September 1 rolls around, ML teams are allowed to expand their rosters, and the Dodgers called up Oeltjen to replace Ronnie Belliard on the 40-man roster.
The future looks bright for the Australian, and this month may be an open audition for Oeltjen. There may even be a small chance he will make the Opening Day roster next season. Fans will await spring training to find out where he will play and if the Dodgers can rebound from a disappointing 2010 campaign.