By Fares Kaff
Canadian Baseball Network
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Toronto Blue Jays prospect Chavez Young has become a new beacon of baseball for the Bahamas.
The 20-year-old outfielder hopes to become only the eighth Bahamian to play in Major League Baseball, a group that includes two-time World Series winner Ed Armbrister.
It’s a pressure that does not affect him.
“No, I don’t put pressure on myself,” he said, grinning ear-to-ear. “I just play my game and I know everything happens in God’s timing.”
Young moved from the Bahamas to Faith Baptist High in nearby Brandon, Fla., at age 16, following his ambitions of earning a proper education while potentially pursuing a professional career.
“My basketball coach back home asked me where my mind was at and what my love was and I said baseball,” he said, relaxing on a bench. “She said she’d try to get me to a school in the States which is when I transferred to Faith Baptist.”
The growing love for the game in the Bahamas does have fundamental and cultural differences to that of the North American game.
“Baseball in the Bahamas is totally different,” he said “Over here it’s more structured and you have more resources but back home there’s no structure. We just play for fun. If you set up a game over here in America you have to stretch before you play but in the Bahamas we just go straight into playing.
“We need to get better on the mental side because back home it’s very physical and here it’s much more based on mentality.”
Young played most of his games last season for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League, where he batted .282 with four home runs and 25 runs batted in. He walked only 13 times with 63 strikeouts in 296 plate appearances, a part of his offensive game he wants to improve.
“I was the lead-off hitter. I knew they were going right at me so I had to fight it back,” Young said. “Just pitch recognition and being more relaxed in the box. I’ll get better at it, seeing more pitches.
“I’m going to try and get better at being patient but, hey, if I see a pitch I like I’m going to hit it. I still have to hit the ball.”
On the other hand, Young impressed the Blue Jays with his fielding last season. He said fellow Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar inspires him.
“Kevin Pillar is a top outfielder and seeing the way he goes about his business makes all of us minor leaguers want to push harder,” Young said. “I really appreciate what he’s doing because if we didn’t have a guy like Kevin Pillar I would be so nonchalant on defence.
“I want to be better than Kevin. I’ve always had that mindset that I want to be better than him.”