By RENALDO DORSETT
A WEEK ago, they signed Major League Baseball contracts on International Signing Day and now their professional journey will begin in earnest as they prepare to leave for the minor leagues this weekend.
Larry Alcime Jr and Kyle Simmons are scheduled to leave today for the Dominican Republic to report to the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Jasrado Chisholm will join the Arizona Diamondbacks in the same league tomorrow.
Lucius Fox Jr spent the last few days in San Francisco, officially signing his contract with the Giants and being introduced to the Bay Area media at AT&T Park.
Fox, the 6’2” 170-pound shortstop, was the most anticipated signing of Giants International Prospect class and celebrated his 18th birthday with a deal that included a signing bonus worth approximately $6 million.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy is reportedly eager to watch Fox take to the field when he participates in instructional league this fall.
“Our scouts are ranting and raving about him,” Bochy said. “His athleticism, his bat, his defence, everything.”
“You want the kid playing for the right reason and that’s to be the best player you can be.The money’s great, but they’ve got to keep their head on straight and focus and have that work ethic. It’s easy to get a little full of yourself when you get a few million in the bank, but the good ones, the great players, never think they can’t get better and part of the reason we’re making a big investment in this kid is the work ethic that he has.”
On signing day, Fox said he sees himself as a player that can open doors for future aspiring baseball players.
“As soon as I sign and I get in the system and become established, my dream is to find a way for other Bahamians to get in the system and get there quicker. Right now they are probably overlooking Bahamians. There are popular Dominicans and Cubans that they think are better than us, but they’re not,” he said. “As soon as I get in I want to set a good example for Bahamians. I want to come back to Nassau and train. I want to be here to mentor the other guys so they can see someone who trained right where they came from and made it to this point.”
Alcime, Simmons and Chisholm will join three Bahamians which currently play in the Dominican Summer League, designated for developing players.
“This is only the first step. We will go to the Dominican Republic and train hard, do our best to progress as fast as possible to the states and hopefully to the majors in a few years,” Chisholm said. “My plan is to always remain focused. If God has a plan for you it is going to come through once you stay in that same mindset and not stay away from your dream.”
Chisholm said while the group trained together to get to this point, those lessons will have to carry over as they chart separate paths at the pro level.
“You have to surround yourself with people who have the same goals. For the last year, you wouldn’t see us with anyone else, or the other boys at MaxD. Larry is stronger than me and even though he hits the ball far it makes me think ‘I’m going to hit the ball further than you,’ if Lucius throws the ball harder than me, I’m going to try and throw it harder than him the next time. Everyone knows Lucius is faster than me but I’m trying to beat him running too,” he said. “We have to find a focus group. With people on the same path that you can still try and beat them doing something and it’ll help you to push yourself.”
Simmons was a member of the JBLN, while Alcime, Fox and Chisolm were members of Freedom Farm and the Maximum Development Sports Academy.
Alcime said: “Freedom Farm played a major role in my life. The first time I went there I left after an hour because they were throwing the ball to me and I couldn’t hit one. So I told my dad to pick me up, but next year the coach pushed my dad to bring me back and the first ball I saw that season I hit. I just got drawn to the place. The coaches were welcoming, the players are positive guys and I just stuck with the people that were going for the same goal.
Chisholm said: “Before I came to Freedom Farm I wasn’t the typical good kid everyone knows now. Freedom Farm made me focus on my goal, it made me think ‘how am I going to get to the Major Leagues if I get in trouble’ so I thought carefully about not deterring my dream. There were positive people around because people care for you. MaxD created a brotherhood, so I felt I had about 20 brothers. You would never turn your back on family.”