Minor Leaguers, Collegians Lead Team Bahamas

Team Bahamas is ready to take on the region at the 4th Caribbean Baseball Cup.

The roster and coaching staff for next week’s event was officially revealed at yesterday’s Media Day, hosted at the Andre Rodgers National Stadium. 

Managed by Geron Sands, the staff will also include Assistant Head Coach Albert Cartwright, alongside coaches Dominique Collie, Donovan Cox, and Trae Sweeting.

Sands called it an honour to introduce a new era of Bahamian baseball in the Andre Rodgers Stadium.

“It’s a pleasure and honour to be leading this team and to be the first to play in the new stadium and represent the country,” Sands said, “I’ve been around these guys so long I feel kind of used to it and it feels like we’re just preparing for another game but I’m sure once Sunday comes we’ll be ready. It’s an honour, its fulfilling and I’m excited. Practices have been great, training camp has been great, these guys are ready to go.”

Team Bahamas’ roster includes a cross section of talent across various levels of play including the minor leagues, independent baseball, collegiate baseball, and locally.

The infielders include St. Louis Cardinals prospect Adari Grant, New York Mets prospect Warren Saunders, Texas Rangers prospect Keithron Moss, Miami Marlins prospect Cherif Neymour along with Northwestern State’s Daunte Stuart, and Kennesaw State’s Jay Knowles.

The outfielders will be led by Los Angeles Angels prospect D’Shawn Knowles, who recently helped Great Britain qualify for the World Baseball Classic.

The remainder of the infield includes Ellison Hanna of the Lake Eerie Crushers, Toby Simmons of the Miami Marlins, Kristin Munroe of the Los Angeles Angels, Kashon Conliffe of the San Diego Padres and highly touted International prospect for the class of 2023 – Janero Miller.

The pitching staff is headlined by Evan Sweeting who last pitched in the San Diego Padres organisation and D’Vaugn Knowles who was last with the New York Yankees organisation.

Brandon Russell, Robin Haven College, Carvin Dames, Derrinyj Russell, McKell Bethel, Giovante Tomlins, Travvis Ferguson, Kennedy Cooper, and Mateo Ferguson.

The catchers are Ural Forbes, Yeshua Saint, and Diontwon James.

“We have a mixture. The selection process included countless nights going over stats, checking on health. There are guys that were unavailable because of career commitments, they have winter ball to play, they’re on 40 man rosters, some have to go to big league camps, so we had to take all that into consideratio. We picked the best guys that were available, healthy and ready to play in this tournament.” Sands said, “It’s going to help boost these guys in their organisations. Anytime you play in international competition teams are going to be interested to see how guys compete so it will help their respective teams that they are ready to go to the next level and hopefully it forces everyone to step their game up.”

The Bahamas opens competition against the US Virgin Islands on December 4 at 7:30pm, followed by matchups against Curaçao on December 5 at 7pm, Cuba on December 7 at 7pm, and completes round robin play against Cuba on December 8 at 7pm.

The five participants in the tournament are world No. 9 Cuba, No. 16 Puerto Rico, No. 60 Curaçao, and No. 66 US Virgin Islands. The Bahamas is ranked No.80.

The tournament will qualify two teams for the Central American and Caribbean Games 2023, scheduled from 23 June to 8 July in El Salvador.

For many of the players, they see it as an opportunity to reconnect with teammates from their childhood.

Angles prospect D’Shawn Knowles said: “Some of these guys I haven’t played with since I was 11-12 so it feels great to have an opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in our city, in front of the home crowd. 

Marlins prospect Neymour added: “It’s a great feeling, especially playing with my brothers. It’s great to just have the opportunity to share the field with them and to have home field advantage and I feel great going into this event.”

Rangers prospect Moss said while the team is set on winning the event, serving as an inspiration for future generations is equally as important.

“It’s definitely something special and we’re looking forward to it. We’re doing this for the younger guys coming up behind us so being a part of it is a very special thing,” he said, “Baseball is baseball, but it’s better with my guys that I know. That’s the most important thing. I don’t feel the nerves, we just have to play ball, pick each other up, play together, and honestly I feel like we can win this thing.”

One team in the field will be eliminated following Round-robin play. The number one seed after the first round will play the fourth-place team in the first semifinal. The second and third-place finishers will compete in the other semifinal.

Curaçao is the defending champion. They defeated Cuba in the final of the third edition,

Cuba has already qualified for the Central American and Caribbean Games.