Sports

Three Bahamians sign as MLB international window opens

The Bahamas keeps turning heads with Major League Baseball (MLB) talent and this past Saturday was a testament to the hard work of local coaches as three Bahamians signed on the dotted line to join the MLB ranks through the minor league system as the international signing period began.

The number nine international prospect in this signing window, infielder Ryan Reckley, was the first Bahamian to sign on Saturday. The Max D Sports Academy product signed with the San Francisco Giants inside the Andros Ballroom at the Baha Mar Convention Center, Baha Mar Resort.

Hours later, I-Elite Academy products shortstop Cherif Neymour and outfielder Toby Simmons signed with the Miami Marlins at The Pantry at Balmoral.

Reckley brought the fanfare to the Andros Ballroom as he was flanked by his family, former coaches and friends at a black and orange themed event. He was all smiles when he signed on the dotted line, reportedly receiving a little over $2 million as a signing bonus.

“It has been a long road and I once was a shy young child who could barely utter words to becoming the young man you see before you today. My parents spent many years and sacrificed much to my development that I could not place a value on the investment… to my teammates and the San Francisco Giants for making this opportunity possible for me, I say thanks. I am extremely excited and motivated to help this organization win in any which way that I can,” Reckley said. “My expectations are high. I come into the organization and expect great things from myself. It is a process, but I hope to help them win.”

The 17-year-old thanked his family, friends, Freedom Farm and Max D for their support. A chair at the front was reserved for his mother, Patricia Reckley, who passed away late last year.

Reckley said he has been in touch with Antoan Richardson who is the first base coach for the Giants. They message each other, and Reckley said he is grateful for the support.

Making the trip to The Bahamas from the Giants organization were international scouting director Joe Salermo and Assistant Director of DR (Dominican Republic) Operations & International Crosschecker Felix Peguero.

“It has been a pleasure watching Reckley play for the last two and a half years,” Salermo said. “It has also been a pleasure watching some of the Bahamian players who are in the audience play the last couple years. The young generation that is coming up through The Bahamas – The Bahamas is a hotbed for baseball… The one common theme that all of our scouts came out of watching Reckley play was, ‘What a professional Ryan Reckley was on and off the field.’ That is a tribute to the Reckley family.”

Lucius Fox Jr. was the pacesetter among this new wave of baseball players from The Bahamas to sign with the Giants. He signed in 2015.

President of Max D Sports Greg Burrows Jr. spoke about Reckley’s work ethic.

“This is the second time that we have had a player in the top 10. I am very proud and I think that he is an example of what every player should try to do. One of my favorite stories about him is that his parents called me at 11 p.m. a night about two years ago as they were trying to get him to stop working out. The work ethic of this kid is going to set him apart from other kids,” Burrows said.

He added that Reckley is committed to growing the baseball industry in The Bahamas.

For Neymour, the sport is in his blood, having grown up around the softball park where his mother played and then later with other family members playing.

“Baseball and softball is a generational sport in my family,” Neymour said. “It was not until I was 10 years old that I realize that this is what I loved to play and I wanted to become a professional baseball player… I was 10 years old when I started to play at Freedom Farm. It was after my first game that I knew that is a sport that I love and a sport I wanted to do for the rest of my life. To the Marlins, I want to say thank you for taking this chance on me and giving me this opportunity to represent this organization. I will continue to work hard to represent you to the best of my God-given ability.”

Neymour thanked his support system for being with him every step of the way, especially his family members and coaches at I-Elite and Freedom Farm.

Simmons thanked the Marlins for giving him the opportunity to live out his dream. He thanked his family and friends for being there for him throughout the journey.

Marlins international scout Adrian Puig said that they are happy to sign the two players.

“Congrats on your very special day. There is no need to thank us because it has been a very mutual beneficial relationship. I believe that this is only the beginning of baseball in The Bahamas. It is growing and growing fast and will keep doing so. We are excited to have these two dynamic, athletic and exciting players now officially with the Marlins. It is no secret and we are going to come back here and try to be here every single year on signing day,” Puig said.

I-Elite Co-Founder Geron Sands was on hand to speak about Neymour’s and Simmons’ time with the program.

“Toby is electric, powerful and brings it every day. He would run through a wall for you and do what he has to do to catch that fly ball or get on base. He will try to get home and dive. He works hard… he is a machine. Cherif is a shortstop and those guys have to watch out because I believe that he is going to be a starting shortstop and hopefully it is with the Marlins. He is going to play for some team someday in the big leagues and I believe with both of these guys hard work and efforts they put out there, nothing but success and good things are going to come from it.”

Sands reminded them that this step is just the beginning and they have to work their way to the top, which is the big leagues.

I-Elite Co-Founder Albert Cartwright said that they are comfortable with having both Neymour and Simmons sign with the Marlins.

“I think we put them in the right situation with the Marlins who invest their time and energy into Bahamians. I feel that we are in a comfortable position where these guys can go off and try to get to the big leagues like Jazz and some of the guys here,” Cartwright said.

The Marlins connections with The Bahamas goes back eight years when Anfernee Seymour was drafted by them in 2014. Ian Lewis signed with the Marlins in 2019 and Jasrado ‘Jazz’ Chisholm was traded to the Marlins in 2019 before being called to play in the majors in 2020. He is a starting infielder with the Marlins and had a strong rookie season. The Marlins also signed Andre Arthur (2020) and Steven Adderley (2021).

There is another signing this evening and possibly others during this signing period.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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