A trio of young Bahamian baseball players received the opportunity to begin their professional baseball careers with Major League franchises as the International Signing Period kicked off.
Kristian Robinson signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks while both Trent Deveaux and D’Shawn Knowles inked their names with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Robinson signed the most lucrative deal of any Bahamian player this period as he reached an agreement near $2.5 million.
Baseball America had Robinson ranked at No.9 among international prospects, while MLP Pipeline had him listed at No.15, the highest ranked of the group of Bahamians.
“I have to thank everyone for supporting me through this process. I have to thank God for giving me the drive, desire, and determination for this game and to reach my goal of signing with the Diamondbacks,” Robinson said, “I have to thank my parents. I know it was tough for my mom for me to leave the school she teaches at and to put me in the care of these coaches at Max D. My dad, he works very hard and he’s very silent. He’s pushed for me all these years and now I will push for him and my whole family. I have to thank the MaxD family of players, some days I go down to the field and I wouldn’t be in the best mood, but they would cheer me up. I have to thank my grandparents for supporting me and I hope you guys will still be here in years to come. I have to thank the Diamondbacks for taking me to start my career and I have to say the start because this isn’t the finish line for me. I hope to be in the majors very soon and I hope to stay there for a long time.”
The 6’3″ 195 pound outfielder joins a Diamondbacks organisation that already includes fellow Bahamians and Max D prospects Jazz Chisholm and DJ Collie.
Cesar Geronimo, the Diamondbacks’ Latin American Scouting Director, said the next step for Robinson is to watch his progression toward the major leagues.
“On behalf of the Diamondbacks, we are very excited to see this young talent here from the Bahamas,” he said, “It’s been great to scout him, great to see him play. We really think this kid here is going to be something special. I only wish that in 4-5 years from now you guys can see him on television.
Deveaux, was ranked at No.19 by Baseball America heading into the International Signing Period and signed a deal near $1.2 million.
In a showcase, Deveaux ran a pair of 60-yard dash, with his times ranging from 6.3 to 6.4 seconds, but has been tracked as fast as 6.2 seconds. Some scouts have graded his speed at 70-or-better, on a 20-80 scouting scale.
“I’d like to thank God for waking me up every day and giving me the drive so I would be able to represent my country on an international platform. I want to give a huge thank you to Carlos and the Los Angeles Angels for blessing me with this opportunity to further my career and fulfill my dreams and that is playing in the Major Leagues. The Angels have an amazing staff, it feels like the second Bahamas whenever I’m there and they treat me very well. I want to give a special thank you to the entire Freedom Farm and JBLN families, to coach Geron Sands and Greg Burrows, to coach Dom for taking his time out to train with me just about every day. I’d like to thank Nogae Sports Nation and Nolan Pena. It has truly been a blessing to have everyone that is a part of my life for making this possible.”
Carlos Gomez, the Angels Director of International Scouting, said Deveaux’s will to succeed and his charisma on and off the field are some of the factors that will be keys to his success in the future.
“This is an extraordinary occasion because I feel like I am a small part of this. This is about Trent his family and all the people that care about him,” he said, “One of the things I wanted to mention about Trent was getting to know him personally was that his devotion, energy and drive match his skills on the field. He’s hilarious, he brightens my day and just being around him brightens my day. I believe baseball needs someone with his charisma. Baseball is a tough sport, I see thousands of players every year, sign very few of them, but it’s rare to see a talent such as Trent’s.”
Knowles was ranked No.37 in Baseball America’s rankings among international prospects. Like Robinson, he cited strong family support, highlighted by his twin brother D’Vaughn who most pundits also expect to sign with a Major League franchise in the near future.
“I’d like to thank my family, my twin brother D’Vaughn and my teammates for pushing me through all aspects of this game that we love and pray that they get their opportunity soon,” he said, “I’d like to thank my coaches and teachers for not giving up on me these past few years. I’d also like to thank my youth group for not giving up n me and Freedom Farm for giving me the opportunity to make my dreams a reality. Lastly, I have to thank the Angels for selecting me and giving me this opportunity to play baseball at a professional level in their organisation.”
Gomez said Knowles’ energy was one of the first attractions in scouting the versatile outfielder.
“My first impression of D’Shawn was his energy. Kristian hit a line drive to centerfield and D’Shawn was more excited for his teammate than Kristian was himself,” he said, “When I hear stories about his energy and hard work and effort I’m not surprised. In getting to know him the last few weeks his effort has been unbelievable. It’s not for me to say what his ultimate ceiling is going to be. What I think doesn’t matter, but he will set his own level and he’s an extraordinary young man.”
Knowles and Robinson are both products of Maximum Development Academy.
Max D is operated by directors Geron Sands, Greg Burrows Jr and Albert Cartwright. It provides an avenue for players between the ages of 11 and 17 years an opportunity to hone their skills with the view of playing at the professional level.
“Maximum Development is the one and only sports academy in the Bahamas. We’ve been around about five years now and in that time our goal has been to help these young men realise their dreams and take advantage of these opportunities,” Sands said, “We want these guys and their families to know that this is not a goodbye from us. We will continue to support them and whatever they need, we are going to be there. We will always be there no matter what, through the tough times in the minor leagues you have to be able to prevail. They put in the work in the weight room, on the field, on the beach, and in school so they deserve this and we have their backs no matter what.”
Max D has seen nine products signed from its program to various Major League franchises.
“MaxD is the platform for Bahamian baseball players to showcase their talent on the international market. We go through rigorous training schedules to prepare these young men for the next level,” Burrows said, “These are kids that work hard and leave it all on the field when they workout. We are thankful to the parents for giving us the opportunity to leave it on the field. We have been trying to push the Bahamian market for the last few years and this is a testament to what we have been doing, what these families have been doing. These are people willing to put in that extra effort, put in that extra time and get that benefit at the end of the day. This is just the beginning of their careers and we hope to see more major announcements to come.”