AHEAD of next month’s inaugural “Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise” event organisers are hosting a two-day clinic for aspiring players.
Approximately 50 participants turned out on day one of the clinic yesterday, which was hosted at the Freedom Farm Baseball Complex. Day two will be hosted at the Junior Baseball League of Nassau’s Field of Dreams from 9am to 1pm, free of charge and open to players between nine and 14 years.
The project is the brainchild of Todd Isaacs Jr and Lucius Fox Jr of the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays organisations respectively.
“We came here to make you guys better,” Fox said as he addressed the players just before they hit the field. “We just want to share the knowledge we have learned throughout the years, pass it on to you so you can become better baseball players. It will be a lot of fun, but just remember no question is a bad question, we just want to hear it all and have a good time teaching the game.”
Isaacs said the event gave the players an opportunity to give back to the community and interact with the young group of players.
“I thought it was important just to give us a chance to be out with the kids. They get to see us, learn from us and it gives us a good opportunity to give back and that is what it’s all about. We can’t keep all these gifts, talent and knowledge to ourselves, we have to spread it around to the kids that look up to us the most. We thought it was important to host the clinic leading up to the home run derby next month,” he said.
“The focus and energy, seeing them smile and have fun, I feel like that’s more important than the baseball side of things. I feel like them just being out of the house, spending time with each other, learning the game of baseball. The fun that they’re having is tremendous and I’m glad that we did this. For me it’s real humbling and exciting to see these kids and to be with them. It’s all about inspiring that next generation.”
The players will select four hitters for the junior home run derby that will precede the main event slated for January 6, 2018 at the Montagu foreshore.
“We will be looking at these kids to see which two or three of them will be selected to hit in the Junior Home Run Derby before us so this was a good way to assess them and see what they can bring to the table. Competition is always fun and this also gives them an opportunity to showcase their talent on the main stage with us so we’re also looking forward to that.
Isaacs was joined by several participants in the upcoming derby and other fellow Bahamian players at the collegiate or minor league levels, including Anfernee Seymour (Atlanta Braves), Jazz Chisholm (Arizona Diamondbacks), Larry Alcime Jr (Pittsburgh Pirates), Trent Deveaux (Los Angeles Angels), Kristian Robinson (Arizona Diamondbacks), Dominic Collie (Arizona Diamondbacks), Kiethron Moss (Texas Rangers), Tahnaj Thomas (Cleveland Indians), Arrien Seymour (Francis Marion University) and Rio Russell.
Clinic participants were drilled at various skill positions, including hitting, fielding, pitching and baserunning.
Robinson and Deveaux were two of the most recent signees and joined their franchises in July. “I remember when I was young and I would go to camps, and I remember looking up to the instructors and the older guys in the camp, now I’m in that position,” said Robinson, who spent the afternoon working in the batting cage.
“I didn’t really want them to be focusing on batting for power at their age, I just want them to work on trying to see the ball and make contact for the foundations of hitting.
“When they get older they can understand the science behind it but we just want to build that foundation.”
Deveaux worked primarily with outfielders on defence. “It’s awesome because I was once in this same position not too long ago so I just want to give what I know to them so they have a good understanding of what they have to do to keep progressing in this game,” Deveaux said,
“We just wanted to keep them athletic because sometimes you can develop that bad habit of staying up, but for a lot of them the outfield is easy to understand so it’s a matter of working on their mechanics of how to do certain things they will need to learn.”
Sixteen of the 20 active Bahamian professional players will participate in the event. Several visiting players who participated in the MLB Futures game will also participate including Triston McKenzie, Nick Gordon and Dante Bichette Jr.
A unique venue presents a unique approach as players will hit home runs into Montagu Bay. Home run barriers will be set by buoys in the water that have been measured with the proper major league approved dimensions.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cancer Society of the Bahamas and the development of youth baseball in the Bahamas.