The International Elite (I-Elite) Sports Academy continues to push out some of the finest baseball players in the country, giving them opportunities to sign professional contracts and further their baseball careers.
A couple more players from that institution signed over the weekend, bringing the total up to four in this international signing period of Major League Baseball (MLB), and 34 in total since they opened their doors eight years ago.
Chad Delancey signed with the Boston Red Sox at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Saturday, and Andru Arthur inked his name on the dotted line with the St. Louis Cardinals organization at the same venue on Sunday. A couple more signed out of MaxD Sports Academy last Tuesday.
In the case of Arthur, he was the second in his immediate family to sign with a professional baseball organization, joining older brother Andre who signed with the Miami Marlins in 2020.
As for 16-year-old outfielder Andru, who stands at 6’1” and weighs 172 pounds, he is looking forward to the opportunity and is ecstatic to join the list of Bahamian players joining the professional ranks during this current cycle of invasion by Bahamian baseball players into the minor leagues.
“I’m real excited … it’s a good feeling. It’s going to be a long process to get into the majors, but I’m confident in my ability and I’m prepared to put in the work,” he said. “I just have to keep working hard, do my thing and I’ll get there. This is a dream come true for me and I’m very happy. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity. When my brother signed, that gave me the inspiration to push harder. I’m glad to be following in his footsteps.”
Both brothers came out of the Freedom Farm Baseball League before venturing to I-Elite.
Andre said he always knew this day would come and that they would be able to celebrate together as a family.
“It’s a great feeling,” said older brother Andre. “I’m happy for him and I’m happy that both of us were able to get this opportunity. This is his day. It’s all about him today and I just want him to enjoy this moment. I’m so proud of him. Words can’t describe my feeling right now. We know that we worked hard every single day and we knew that this day would come. It was bound to happen and I’m glad it did.”
The progression of both of them is a testament to the hard work of their parents Beulah and Anthony Arthur, guidance from coaches at Freedom Farm and I-Elite, and support from family and friends.
I-Elite Co-Founder and Coach Albert Cartwright said Andru Arthur primarily bats clean up, and it’s only fitting that he cleans up the signings for I-Elite for this signing period. He is the last of the four from that academy to sign with a professional baseball organization in this period.
Overall, there are 24 students from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera enrolled at I-Elite, and a total of 34 have signed with professional baseball franchises over the last eight years. Additionally, 20 have obtained collegiate scholarships.
“It’s always a pleasure when we could see the fruits of our labor,” said president, co-founder and head coach of I-Elite Geron Sands. “With these guys, it’s a process and I’m just glad to see that the process is working. It’s really a good feeling. It’s all about trusting the process. We’ve been blessed to get some hard-working kids into the program. The character of these kids is important as well. We have so much talent here in The Bahamas in sports and, in this instance, baseball. It’s just a matter of putting in the work with these guys and making it happen.
“Andru is one of the better hitters to come through the system. He’s one of the guys who is going to hit third or fourth in a lineup and, besides the baseball aspect, he is a great kid. He is disciplined and very mature, and when you put all of his qualities together, I see no reason why he won’t be in the big leagues.”
Sands said they have young players coming up behind this current class as well and the future looks bright as far as more Bahamians getting opportunities are concerned.
“We always have guys coming up. Next year, we expect to have a strong class again,” he said. “For the next four to five years, we are looking pretty good. In this country, we just have to understand what it takes to get to this level.These guys put in a lot of hard work and now they are seeing the results of their labor.”
Arthur will report to the Cardinals Academy in the Dominican Republic, be evaluated, and begin preparation for the Dominican Summer League (DSL) season this year. He is the second Bahamian to be signed by the Cardinals, joining Adari Grant who inked his name on the dotted line in 2021.
“We’re very excited. The level of athleticism that he showed is top notch and he has tremendous upside,” said Cardinals International Crosschecker Damaso Espino. “We will continue to trust in this market. With Andru, we believe that his hard work, aptitude and his character will be the key elements for him to get through the system and into the majors. His body projection, his athleticism and his ability to make contact were key elements for us. Offensively, he has a great skill set and, defensively, he’s very good with his glove. We believe that he will be able to be a strong run producer for us.”
A number of international prospects begin their minor league careers in the DSL, in preparation for advancement to leagues in the United States.
The Bahamas keeps turning heads with MLB signees which is a testament to the hard work of local coaches at Freedom Farm, the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), I-Elite and the MaxD Sports Academy.