JAZZ Chisholm’s historic 2020 season had several milestones and one primary lesson learned which he hopes will set the stage for a long career in Major League Baseball.
“Trust your routine, 100 percent your routine. Everything has to do with what you do every day because your body reacts to what you do every day, so I learned that very quickly,” Chisholm said on the MLB Pipeline Podcast with Jonathan Mayo.
“As soon as I got up, the first thing everybody told me was to stick to what I was doing at the alternate site. I was getting out on the field early, getting back in, and doing my work inside early, and getting ready hours before the game.
“Having your routine from the time you wake up to when you close your eyes at night, it’s amazing what that can do for you every day. In the minor leagues, you’re working on more things, in the big leagues it’s time to go out and win.” Chisholm made his MLB postseason debut in what turned out to be the final game of the season for his Miami Marlins, the final in a three-game sweep.
Chisholm started at second base in the Marlins’ 7-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. He became just the second Bahamian born player to play in the MLB postseason following Ed Armbrister’s run with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s.
“When I got out there I was looking around like there were 50,000 people out there. I didn’t have to see 50,000 people out there but I could feel 50,000 people out there. The intensity of our guys, the intensity of the other team, the intensity of the managers, you could feel everything through the whole ballpark. Everybody out there was like ‘it’s go time.’”
The Marlins’ No. 4 prospect and No. 61 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list, Chisholm was expected to start the season with the Marlins’ AAA affiliate, the Wichita Wind Surge of the Pacific Coast League.
The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled Minor League Baseball in 2020 and shortened the Major Leagues to a shortened 60-game season. The Marlins were one of the teams hit by the pandemic early in the season and had the highest roster turnover of any team in the league with 17 players eventually placed on the COVID reserve list.
While the team got off to a slow start, Chisholm said his focus was to stay mentally ready.
“My expectations never went down, when the shutdown happened I was just thinking, I have to prepare to play in the big leagues. They already said that we weren’t having a minor league season so I was just getting ready to play in the big leagues. Even when we were locked down I was just running around the neighbourhood, getting my miles in just to be ready,” he said.
“It was the day the 17 guys went down and I thought to myself ‘Oh my goodness, what’s going to happen right now, am I ready to go to the big leagues?’ I had to check myself to make sure that I was ready every day because it could happen every day. It gave me the instant shock that I could get the call any day so I was preparing every day like it could happen.”
One of the major benefits of summer camp and his work at the team’s alternate site was the instruction that made for a seamless transition from shortstop to playing second base at the major league level.
“There weren’t many guys there (at the alternate site in Jupiter) but I was getting lessons from guys who had 10-15 years in the big leagues who were in minor league camp. I was just talking to everybody I can. I was trying to learn as much as possible, every day it was someone that I can have a one-on-one conversation with to learn how to play this game, learn how to love this game, learn how to be obsessed with this game, learn to be better at this game every day.”
The 22-year-old Chisholm made his historic debut on September 1 against the Toronto Blue Jays at Marlins Stadium. In 21 games this season he hit .161 with a .563 OPS a .242 OBP, nine hits, two home runs, nine runs, six RBI, and two stolen bases.
As all baseball fans are, Chisholm has his focus on the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays.
“The Dodgers have two MVPs on their team, they have Rookie of the Years, their team is stacked. It’s hard to outplay guys that have been proving it for the past few years,” he said. “Good luck to Tampa as well. They’ve been doing it all year, kind of expected them to be there so I’m not really surprised.”
Chisholm made Bahamian baseball history but said using his platform to speak out against social injustice in America is equally as important.
“As a young guy that has a platform that I can reach out to so many people in the world, I can reach out and talk to the communities. We know not only black lives, all lives do matter but it’s just at this time, what’s happening with the black lives in our communities, it’s where our focus needs to be,” he said.
“It’s hurtful to see another video to see another person getting shot or a person getting degraded by another community member because of their skin tone. “It’s just hurtful to watch so I do whatever I can do with my platform and I’ll keep doing it without any remorse if someone hates me for it because that’s what I believe in.”