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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Baseball in the Bahamas: How Jazz Chisholm, other pros are helping grow the game on the islands

In the past decade-plus, the number of professional Bahamian players has skyrocketed, from just two pros in 2010 all the way to 22 this past season. The nation of just 385,000 people has embraced the game Bahamian-style, with open arms, with joy and with unrelenting passion.

But if the Bahamas is a baseball rocket ship, who built it? How exactly did the tiny island nation become one of the most exciting baseball pipelines in the world?

The first Nassau native to reach MLB was Andre Rodgers, an infielder who debuted with the New York Giants in 1957. His claim to fame was becoming the Cubs’ starting shortstop in 1962, when Hall of Famer Ernie Banks moved to first base. Rodgers enjoyed an 11-year career as the inaugural Bahamian major leaguer.

Rodgers’ success at the highest level sparked a wave of Bahamian signees in the ‘60s and ’70s, though very few of them reached the big leagues, and none had a career nearly as long as his.

For nearly 40 years after outfielder Wil Culmer’s final game with Cleveland in 1983, not a single Bahamian-born player appeared in the majors. Not a single one signed to play pro ball, let alone reached the bigs, in the 1990s.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2021 at 12:26 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bahamas, jazz chisholm

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: December 27, 2021 at 05:45 PM (#6058775)
So Chisholm is an "interesting" player. His main value is speed -- good baserunning, average defense at 2B. He's a "small" guy, keeps the ball on the ground (50% GB rate, as likely to hit a LD as a FB), solid BABIP (319 last year) probably mostly due to that speed. What's been surprising is the power with a 180 ISO. But it's not launch angle craziness -- again, note the GB rate -- but a very solid 12.3% HR/FB rate (lg 10.1). The problem is, no surprise, too many Ks (and not enough BBs). But at least it doesn't seem to be Billy Hamilton disorder where a small, fast guy keeps trying to hit the ball in the air for HRs. Chisholm is doing with the bat what you'd want a small, fast guy to do, just not making enough contact. If he can cut down on the Ks or at least improve his strike zone judgment to turn some Ks into BBs, he should be able to hang on as an average or slightly better 2B until the speed starts to go.

Wow! Chisholm tied for the NL lead in CS last year ... with 8! Only 12 players in the NL had more than 5. Ohtani and Arozarena at least made it to double figures. Obviously CS are not a good thing but if you're never getting caught, you're not trying often enough. (Whit Merrifield an impressive 40 for 44; Marte 47 for 52 ... can't complain about those.)

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