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Opening day starter!

‘Jazz’ becomes first Bahamian to be named opening day starter in 57 years

Following a strong spring, Bahamian Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm has been confirmed as the opening day starting second baseman of the Miami Marlins for the 2021 season.

Chisholm beat out Isan Díaz who was expected to have the edge but struggled at the plate in Grapefruit League Spring Training with just four hits in 22 at-bats and struck out 13 times. The 24-year-old went 0 for his last 24 with five walks and 10 strikeouts.

Chisholm, 23, was consistently 

aggressive at the plate this spring and it paid off for him. It was his pop with the bat that made the difference, going 11-for-41 with three home runs, eight runs scored, six RBIs and four stolen bases. He batted .268 this spring – fifth-highest on the team among those with at least 30 at-bats. Both he and Díaz are good defensively, going errorless this spring.

Chisholm now becomes the first Bahamian opening day starter in Major League Baseball (MLB) since Andre Rodgers in 1964, and just the second in history. Rodgers, the Bahamian pacesetter in the majors, was the opening day shortstop for the Chicago Cubs in 1964.

As for Chisholm, the nifty infielder ended a strong spring training, going 1-for-3 in the Marlins 10-2 win over the New York Mets at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, in Jupiter, Florida – the spring training home of the Marlins – on Sunday. The Marlins ended spring training as winners of four straight, finishing with a 14-5 win/loss record – best in the majors.

Chisholm hit safely in three of his last four games and five of his last seven, finishing second on the team in home runs this spring, in a three-way tie for second in runs scored, tied for fourth in hits and fifth in runs batted in (RBIs).

Chisholm ended spring training with a .333 on-base percentage (OBP), .488 slugging percentage (SLG.) and an .821 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), leading to him being confirmed as the opening day starting second baseman of the Marlins on Sunday.

Marlins’ General Manager Kim Ng – the first female general manager in MLB and the first person of East Asian descent to serve as general manager in MLB – made the announcement during the Marlins 2021 spring training finale against the Mets. She said that Díaz will begin the year in Triple-A Baseball.

“It was hard-fought. It really was,” said Ng during a radio broadcast of the game on Sunday. “I think we just saw Jazz in the last couple of weeks step out a bit. He’s a player that plays both sides of the ball. I’m excited for Marlins fans to see him again this year. His defense is great. He has great speed. This guy, he’s a really exciting player. He adds a lot to our lineup.

“It was a tough decision because Isan does have some more experience in Triple A than Jazz and probably, in our minds, given his experience, a little more prepared for it, but again it was a competition and Jazz stepped out. The one thing I will say, is that it’s a great problem to have when you have two prospects battling for that spot and it comes down to the final day.”

Marlins’ Manager Don Mattingly said previously that he doesn’t rule out Chisholm making contributions at shortstop for the club in the future, or being the team’s long-term solution at that position, but for now, that role belongs to Miguel Rojas – the regular starter for the Marlins at that position over the last three seasons.

Chisholm struggled in his big-league debut last season with a .161/.242 (OBP)/.321 (SLG.) slash line over 62 plate appearances in the COVID pandemic shortened 2020, but he showed significant plate awareness, patience, bat speed and hand-eye coordination this spring.

Going 9-for-56, Chisholm had one double, one triple, two home runs, six RBIs, eight runs scored, two stolen bases and five walks while striking out 19 times in 2020. With a strong spring under his belt, his best performance in his three years of spring training, it’s highly likely that he will improve on those numbers in 2021. Chisholm remains one of the Marlins’ top prospects at number four and is at number 66 in all of Major League Baseball.

Chisholm has speed on the basepaths and could provide a spark at the bottom of the Marlins’ line-up. He batted seventh yesterday, striking out in his first at-bat, but got a single in an eight-pitch at-bat in his second trip to the plate. Chisholm drilled an 86.5 miles per hour (mph) cutter off Mets’ starting pitcher Mike Montgomery in the bottom of the third inning for the Marlins. In his last at-bat of the day, Chisholm grounded out to Mets’ second baseman Luis Guillorme in the bottom of the fifth. He was pulled a half inning later for Eddy Alvarez.

The Marlins connected for 15 hits, chasing Mets’ starter Montgomery after just two and two third innings. Marlins’ left hander Daniel Castano pitched four and two third innings and got the win.

After finishing 2019 at Double-A with a .220/.321/.441 line, Chisholm made his major league debut in 2020, and one year later, is the Marlins opening day starting second baseman.

Chisholm is the seventh Bahamian to play in the majors, and one of just two who are still alive. The sky is the limit for the young Bahamian professional baseball player.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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