84.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesFour V.I. Baseball Prospects Drafted by MLB Teams

Four V.I. Baseball Prospects Drafted by MLB Teams

Jamaine Cotton (left) and Keithroy Charles announced their future plans during Wednesday's press conference.The fame of Tim Duncan and Raja Bell has long made basketball the premier sport in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but hopefully after this week — with four local players getting drafted by Major League teams — young baseball hopefuls will have something to aspire to.
Jabari Blash, Akeel Morris, James Sneed and Jamaine Cotton were all drafted within the first 15 rounds of this year’s Major League Baseball draft — an historic accomplishment, according their Future Stars Baseball coach Darren Canton, who said at a press conference Wednesday that local prospects usually come up later, going well into the 20th round.
Blash is already well known, being drafted last year by the Texas Rangers, but he didn’t sign, opting to go back to college and polish his skills. This time around, he was picked up in the eighth round by the Seattle Mariners — a team that’s possibly looking for outfield help after the retirement of veteran Ken Griffey Jr.
"Seattle really liked him," Canton said Wednesday. "Jabari was actually talking with Ken Griffey before he retired, and Ken Griffey saw his workout and was impressed with the size of Jabari — that really meant a lot to me. And two days later, Ken Griffey retires and Seattle picks him up — I’m in awe of that. So, I think Jabari’s going to be successful, I really do."
Going in the 10th round of this year’s draft was Charlotte Amalie High School starting pitcher Akeel Morris, who was drafted by the New York Mets. Morris, who is a senior, said Wednesday that he would only sign if the money was right; and if not, he would be moving on to Connors State University with CAHS teammate Keithroy Charles.
"It all has to be negotiated and worked out," said Morris. "But I know that I have different options and can always to college and better myself. I’ll know by August what I’m going to do."
Akeel’s twin brother and CAHS teammate Akeem Morris also announced during the press conference that he had committed to attending Daytona State College, along with Future Stars teammates Jelani Foy and Arsenio Watlington, who also announced their college plans Wednesday and had some words of wisdom for other aspiring athletes.
"I want the younger players to know that anything is possible," Akeem Morris said. "I wasn’t always as good as my brother here — in fact, many times I was the alternate when we were getting picked for teams. But I worked hard, and now I’m happy to be where I am today."
Representing St. Croix, Educational Complex senior James Sneed was drafted in the 14th round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — a familiar team in the territory, with local scout Arnold Braithwaite conducting yearly tryouts and training workshops for V.I. talent.
According to Canton, Sneed will most likely sign with the Angels.
Rounding out the four this year was Jamaine Cotton — one of the infamous Cotton brothers that dominated for Ivanna Eudora Kean High School during the school leagues. Now at 19, Cotton has graduated from Western Oklahoma State, where he wrapped up this year with an 11-1 record and hopes to carry his winning ways to the Houston Astros organization.
"I’m so proud of him," Canton said of Cotton. "After two years of college, you see that he’s matured and how responsible he’s become. He doesn’t need anyone on top of him to make sure things get done, and that’s a big thing because when you’re in the majors, you’re on your own. You have to be mentally prepared, because it’s a struggle too."
Showing his maturity, Cotton had wise words for parents with sons or daughters on the same path.
"It’s important for the parents to be there, to help out financially and push their kids to play a sport," he said. "Because when you give them something to do, it keeps them off the street and out of trouble. Playing sports can give you opportunities, like getting scholarships, to help you do well in life. So it gives an option other than just baseball — you can also get that education you want."
For Canton, the success of this year’s draft is just the icing on the cake after five years’ worth of scouting events and getting his players to as many showcases as possible. Now, he’s looking forward to a new crop of players — including the nationally ranked Deshorn Lake — and is anxious to see how far they can go.
"I want them to be successful, but I never want them to forget where they come from," he said Wednesday. "Because a lot of our younger guys are looking up to the older guys, and our older guys can’t forget them. They need them to be there, too, and that’s the kind of cycle we’re trying to create."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.