Although they are disappointed that their seasons were cancelled, Bahamian players in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) have remained upbeat and positive.
MiLB made the announcement just over a week ago, cancelling the 2020 regular seasons after months of speculation. This came into play because of the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Guardian Sports caught up with Keithron Moss (Texas Rangers), D’Shawn Knowles (Los Angeles Angels) and Ian Lewis (Miami Marlins) as they shared their reaction to the news and their plans going forward.
Knowles was on the Top 30 prospects pre-season list for the Angels at number nine. The outfielder said he was devastated when he got the news.
“I tried to stay positive about the situation but I was devastated at first,” said Knowles. “Baseball is cancelled only in the minor leagues, so I’m still going to work out and stay in shape in case I get a call up to go to Anaheim to the majors.”
The Angels signed Knowles to a minor league contract back in 2017.
A shocked Moss said he is going to keep working and stay ready.
“It is shocking but something was expected. Now, I have nothing to do but I am not going to let that get to me, so I keep working like I am in season,” he said. “When they call us to come back, I will be ready to go. That is the biggest thing, being ready to go,” he added.
Lewis is the rookie in the group. He signed last year July and was ready to put his mark on the game.
“It was honestly overwhelming, knowing that this was going to be my first professional season and I felt as if I had so much to prove. My rookie season being cancelled was shocking due to the fact that we were so close to opening day,” he said.
Lewis said the Marlins has been in contact with him everyday, checking on his health status and progression with training and working out.
Last season, Knowles played in 64 games in the Pioneer League for the Orem Owlz. He finished the season with a batting average of .241, getting 61 hits in 253 at-bats. Knowles scored 38 runs and had 28 runs batted in (RBIs).
The Angels’ number nine prospect has been home in The Bahamas since March and said he has been training, trying to stay in shape. He said he has remained in contact with the Angels organization through Zoom and texting.
Moss said he is looking forward to playing in the fall – it was the latest news he received from the Rangers.
“We are still going to play baseball in the fall for two months. That is a good thing, so it is not all that bad. Obviously, I wanted to play in the season but at least I still get to play baseball,” Moss said.
Before he signed with the Rangers in December of 2017, the second baseman was a part of I-Elite Baseball Academy. He has been training intensely with the academy since professionals were allowed to train, according to the government’s Emergency Powers COVID-19 Orders. His batting average last season was .308 – a great improvement from the .196 the season before. He finished with 37 hits in 120 at-bats, scoring 27 runs while driving in 14.
The official announcement posted on the MiLB website last week stated: “Major League Baseball (MLB) has informed Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated minor league teams with players for the 2020 season. As a result, there will not be a Minor League Baseball season in 2020.”
Other Bahamian players in the MiLB system include, but are not limited to: Kristian Robinson (Arizona Diamondbacks), Tahnaj Thomas (Pittsburgh Pirates), Trent Deveaux (Angels), Chavez Young (Toronto Blue Jays), Davonn Mackey (Oakland Athletics), James Rolle (Baltimore Orioles), Dax Stubbs (Orioles), Chavez Fernander (Detroit Tigers), Everette Cooper (Houston Astros) and D’Vaughn Knowles (New York Yankees).
Training camps for major league teams got underway last week. A couple of Bahamians made the 60-man taxi squad for the 2020 MLB season for their respective teams. They are Lucius Fox Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays) and Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm (Marlins). They will be looking to get a chance to be called up to their respective active rosters in a limited season.
The 60-man taxi squad is a feeder system that provides call-up options, injury and illness replacements, with opportunities. Those players will work out and stay game ready, waiting for their names to be called. They are high-level prospects who will get in some developmental work.
Both Fox and Chisholm were in Spring Training for their respective teams before the presence of the pandemic ceased it.
MiLB, which began as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, was founded over a century ago, on September 5, 1901.