Full seasons in the minor leagues were set to begin on April 9 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opening day across the United States and across the Caribbean has been postponed indefinitely. Several Bahamians are among those minor league players who now have to play it by ear, waiting out the pandemic.
New Providence Amateur Baseball League (NPABL) President Jeff Francis caught up with several players who are at home in the midst of the national curfew and lockdown during the pandemic.
Chavez Young hails from Grand Bahama and plays in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He has been using the time to do some workouts from home and work around his house.
“[I have been doing] weight training and running. Also, I am doing a lot of cleaning up around my home and yard. As you know, last year’s Hurricane Dorian did a lot of damage to our island of Grand Bahama, so I am doing some work while I am here, keeping busy,” Young said.
Young played Class-A Advanced for the Dunedin Blue Jays last season, suiting up in 111 games. He had 99 hits in 401 at-bats to go along with 53 runs scored and added six home-runs. He posted a batting average of .247 and a slugging percentage of .354. The Grand Bahamian also finished with 43 runs batted in (RBIs).
This is going to be his fifth season in the minors. He was looking to have a strong season.
“This delay is somewhat disappointing for me. This is my Rule 5 season, and I was hoping to play well enough to be protected by the Blue Jays. I wanted to make an impression before the Rule 5 Draft deadline. Well, if the 2020 season gets canceled, I could only hope that I will still be eligible next year,” Young said.
Held each December, the Rule 5 Draft allows clubs without a full 40-man roster to select certain non-40-man roster players from other clubs. Young wants to build upon the 2019 season and move up to Double A.
Warren Saunders, who plays in the New York Mets organization, said he has been busy during the lockdown, staying in contact with his trainers.
“Working out in the house, my trainers send me a set of regimens to work on to help me get in shape. I go out in the back yard with my neighbor to work on my swings,” Saunders said.
Saunders played his rookie season last year for the GCL Mets in the Gulf Coast League (GCL), suiting up in 33 games. The shortstop had 41 hits in 127 at-bats. His batting average was .323 and he had a slugging percentage of .386. Saunders finished with 20 RBIs, 25 runs scored and one home-run.
“This season, I was hoping to break camp on a full-season team, maybe Single A or even High A, to improve on last season and my hitting techniques,” Saunders said. “My hitting workouts in the yard were video taped and sent to my hitting instructors for correction, and for critiquing, and I feel like I’m improving.”
Saunders said the hiatus will not hurt his career but rather it will separate those who took time to put in the work from those who took it for a holiday.
Shortstop Anfernee Seymour became a free agent after the 2019 season. He played for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp last season at the Double A level in the Miami Marlins organization. He is at home adhering to the national curfew and lockdown orders and spending time with his mother.
“I was heading to Arizona to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifiers with Team Great Britain and try to qualify that nation for the 2021 World Baseball Classic. A few teams were coming out there to watch me play during the qualifiers, to see if they would have wanted me to play with their organization. However, the qualifier was postponed indefinitely, so that got derailed. I’m just looking forward to whatever is in store for me,” Seymour said.
He added that he has fielded a lot of offers from various leagues. Seymour said he is even looking at the option of playing in Japan if it surfaces.
“My overall minor league experience should hold me through this. I had a good baseball career, which proves that I can play at the top level,” he said.
Last season, Seymour played in 103 games and had a .261 batting average. He finished with 72 hits and 30 runs scored. Seymour also had a home-run and 28 RBIs.
The six-year veteran is still performing his workout routines on a daily basis to stay sharp.