By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE rosters are set for both teams as the country’s top pro baseball prospects prepare to host a showcase of local and international talent, vying for the title of the Bahamian Home Run Derby King.
The third edition of the Don’t Blink/Charles Johnson Foundation Home Run Derby, powered by REV, takes place noon on January 4 at Montagu Bay foreshore, featuring approximately 30 participants in the unique showcase.
Todd Isaacs Jr (Colorado Rockies organisation) and Lucius Fox Jr (Tampa Bay Rays organisation) selected their respective teams via their draft selection show to divide the teams that will compete for their respective charitable organisations.
Following the team format, the top four individual hitters from each team will advance to see who will be the individual winner.
Team Isaacs looks to repeat as defending champions headlined by major leaguer Shed Long of the Seattle Mariners.
Local product Jazz Chisholm, the top home run hitter of all Bahamian players this past season, was also drafted to Team Issacs along with Trent Deveaux (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Anfernee Seymour (free agent) and several first year participants - Zion Bannister (Texas Rangers), James Rolle (Baltimore Orioles), Everette Cooper (Houston Astros), Dax Stubbs (Baltimore Orioles) and D’Vonn Mackey (Oakland Athletics).
Other visiting hitters drafted to Team Isaacs include Will Benson (Cleveland Indians), Jermiah Jackson (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Christian Koss (Colorado Rockies), Monte Harrison (Miami Marlins) and Jet Johnson (Cleveland Indians).
Tom Fox selected a Bahamian player with the first overall pick - Kristian Robinson - the No.2 overall prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organisation.
Other local draft selections included Chavez Young (Toronto Blue Jays), Keithron Moss (Texas Rangers), D’Shawn Knowles (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), D’Vaughn Knowles (New York Yankees), Warren Saunders (New York Mets) and first year participant Ian Lewis (Miami Marlins).
A pair of major leaguers from the Miami Marlins - Isan Diaz and Lewis Brinson - headline the visiting players for Team Fox. Others include Ronnie Dawson (Houston Astros), Nick Gordon (Minnesota Twins), Josh Palacios (Toronto Blue Jays), Braxton Davidson (Atlanta Braves) and Buddy Reed (Oakland Athletics).
“Don’t Blink weekend is going to be something special. It’s something we are super excited for,” Isaacs said, “This year we are fortunate to be partnering with the Charles Johnson Foundation to help our reach get out to the world. The important thing we loved about his philosophy is that he wants to invest in the youth, invest in the future and that’s the biggest thing for us just giving the young men in society something positive to look up to and something that can change their lives. Baseball is an avenue that allows kids to change their families’ lives as young as 16. We play in front of thousands of people every day but there’s nothing like performing in front of the home crowd.”
Johnson, had a major league career that spanned 11 years across six franchises, most notably the Miami Marlins. The former World Series champion, two-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner now spearheads a foundation to increase opportunities for youth through the sport.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cancer Society of the Bahamas, the Sister Sister Breast Cancer Support Group and the Hurricane Dorian Relief Effort.
“In year’s past we have had a theme for the home run derby and this year the theme will be Bahamas Strong. In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, we felt it was important not just to help our brothers and sisters that suffer through cancer but also to help the Hurricane Dorian victims as best we can,”Isaacs said, This year the teams will support the Cancer Society of the Bahamas, the Sister Sister
Breast Cancer Support Group and hurricane relief as the other team. The guys will compete as best as they can to win for their respective charity. All of us were in season with the hurricane hit, and some of these guys are from Freeport. So I couldn’t imagine sitting in the locker room, having to worry about what’s going on with your family. We just want to use our platform in whatever way we can to make a difference.”
In addition to the Home Run Derby, the participating players will host a clinic at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Harbour on January 3 for aspiring student athletes.
“We kickoff the weekend with a kid’s camp and will be partnering with the MLB Play Ball initiative. That is the branch of MLB that hosts all their kids camp around the world and this will be their first time coming down to the Bahamas,” Isaacs said, “Through Charles Johnson we made contact with the Play Ball initiative. He’s played in the Major Leagues for a long time so a lot of the relationships with people throughout baseball. When they saw the derby, they saw the kids camp and they were blown away by what we were doing. They are bringing boxes and boxes of stuff to give away to the kids.”
Community outreach efforts like the kid’s camp remain a mandate of the group for the further development of the next generation of baseball players.
“I just want baseball to grow in the Bahamas,” Fox said, “Over the years they’ve been talking about the Dominican Republic and all these Latin American countries, but I know we have the talent. If I can do my part to help the young guys be better than us then I will do just that. It’s never selfish when it comes to us we just look forward to breaking down as many doors as possible.”