There was a number of Bahamian professional baseball players in New Providence for the 3rd Annual Don’t Blink Home Run Derby at the beginning of this month, and quite a few of them spoke about their past season and their expectations for the upcoming season.
Lucius Fox Jr., a shortstop in the Tampa Bay Rays system, had a great season. He has been called up to the Rays major league 40-man spring training roster.
“This past year, I learnt a lot at the Double-A and Triple-A levels,” Fox said. “It was a lot of ups and downs but I still had a good year. I got protected this year. I am thankful but the work starts now. I am ready to head into camp and have a good spring training and season. Hopefully I will be in the major leagues this year.”
Last season, the speedster played for the Durham Bulls in Triple-A and the Montgomery Biscuits in Double-A. He is hoping to be on the Rays’ opening day roster in Major League Baseball (MLB) this year.
Cumulatively, Fox finished the year with a batting average of .221 and a career-high 39 stolen bases. He also played a career-high 119 games, and finished with three home runs and 66 runs scored.
As for what he wants this season, Fox noted, “I want to work on playing through the ball longer, which will translate to extra base hits. I have been working on my swing a lot and I feel really good about it.”
Fox has signed his first minor league contract back in 2015. He said the Bahamian pro baseball family is close knit and they check up on each other on a regular basis.
“During the season and offseason we always contact each other,” Fox said. “We just want to make sure that everyone is doing well, not even with just baseball but with life. We try to make sure that everyone is protected and I am like the vet now so I just want to make sure my little brothers are good coming through the system.”
For Fox’s close friend, Todd Isaacs Jr., who plays in the Colorado Rockies system, he had a respectable season as well, despite being let go by the Cleveland Indians organization.
“I had a good season and worked on a lot of things. I was focused on last offseason and trying to take a lot of things into this upcoming season. I am really looking forward to this season and hopefully having a chance to get to the big leagues,” Isaacs said.
Isaacs was featured in 44 games and finished with a batting average of .277 with 43 hits in 155 at-bats. This season he is looking to evolve his swing.
“I’m just looking forward continuing to get better, work on my consistency and staying strong and durable throughout the season. I want to be ready to go for spring season,” Isaacs said.
It was a dream come true for Ian Lewis as he was signed by the Miami Marlins organization in July 2019. This upcoming season will be the 16-year-old’s first full season and he has high expectations of himself.
“I expect to play very well because the way I train and carry myself. This year is going to be a big year for all of us Bahamians, not just me. We intend to have a lot of breakthrough performances,” Lewis said.
Lewis joins fellow Bahamians Anfernee Seymour and Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm in the Marlins organization – players who he sees as big brothers.
“We talk all the time. They helped me throughout the process… they are like big brothers to me. They really helped me,” Lewis said.
Chisholm has been called up to the Marlins’ 40-man roster for spring training.
First baseman ‘Big Game’ James Rolle played in the Dominican Republic last season in the Baltimore Orioles organization. He said it was a lot of fun and he can’t wait for this season to get underway.
“I went in really confident,” said Rolle. “I did well and executed everything I learnt from my coaches here in The Bahamas. Everything they taught me, I put into play. I went there with my head on my body and I was ready to go and I did what I had to do.”
Rolle played in 34 games in his rookie season and finished with a batting average of .283. He had five home runs and 10 Runs Batted In (RBIs). The 18-year-old slugger has been spending his offseason working with coach Geron Sands on the field and working out in the gym as well.
Like Rolle, Texas Rangers’ Zion Bannister is coming off his rookie season in the Dominican Republic, before heading to the Arizona League to play for the AZL Rangers. He, along with Bahamian Keithron Moss, won a title in the Arizona League.
Bannister played in 12 games for the AZL Rangers, finishing with a .250 batting average. He had three hits in 12 at-bats.
“It was awesome – I came and we won a championship but I felt as if that’s just the beginning and I am just getting started,” Bannister said. “I just want to be more successful. I want to be able to grow as a person on and off the field – mentally, spiritually, and I also want to be able to exceed my limits. I want to push myself to grow as a baseball player and also become stronger, faster, and more successful at the game of baseball.”
The Los Angeles Angels’ Trent Deveaux is coming off his second season in the minors. He started off the season playing in the Arizona League with the AZL Angels before switching over to the Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League at the Rookie Advanced level.
“My season went really well last year,” said Deveaux. “It went much better than my first season. I increased all my stats twice as much as they were the first year. I am happy about that and to be making progress. I can’t rush it. It is a process.”
In his 60 games last season, Deveaux had a batting average of .238 to go along with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. He went 58-for-244.
The center fielder said he intends to do his best and won’t force anything.