Miami Marlins

Top Marlins prospect ready to help native Bahamas after ‘heartbreaking’ devastation

Relief effort underway in ravaged Bahamas

Relief in the form of hundreds of water bottles, boxes of cereal, and 10,000 hot and cold meals arrived on tugboats to the Freeport Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.
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Relief in the form of hundreds of water bottles, boxes of cereal, and 10,000 hot and cold meals arrived on tugboats to the Freeport Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019.

Miami Marlins prospect Jazz Chisholm was in the midst of finishing his minor-league season with the Double A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp as Hurricane Dorian ravaged over his native Bahamas.

It was tough to watch from a distance, checking the news every chance he could to only see sheer destruction to the island country he calls home.

“Every time I got a break to check my phone, I would go and check and call people,” Chisholm, 21, said Tuesday. “When I wasn’t getting in touch with them, I was really scared, so I kept blowing up their phone and blowing up their phone.

“It was really scary to see all that happening.”

Chisholm said he has heard back from all of his friends and family, but the Marlins’ hopeful shortstop of the future knows his home country has a long road ahead of it.

“I‘m still in sorrow for all the other families,” Chisholm said.

And he’s ready to help.

Chisholm and fellow Marlins prospect and Bahamian Ian Lewis were at Marlins Park on Tuesday, taking part in the team’s donation drive to help those in the Bahamas after Dorian rampaged parts of the island chain for two days.

Chisholm said he plans to go visit Freeport and Abaco to to help with relief efforts in person after he finishes with the Marlins’ instructional league, which typically runs until early October.

“We’re grateful for the support of Miami,” Chisholm, the Marlins’ No. 4 overall prospect, said. “Seeing all our friends from all the islands sending videos and watching it was really heartbreaking. When I see the community come together and help us in our time of need, it just warms my heart.”

More than 4,800 people have been displaced and at least 50 have died in the hard-hit islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Chisholm said some of his friends living in Abaco and Freeport are now living in West Palm Beach.

“I’m just praying we have a speedy recovery in the Bahamas,” Chisholm said. “I just pray that they feel better and their hearts warm up a little more.”

Chisholm and Lewis are two of three Bahamians the Marlins have in their organization. The club drafted outfielder Anfernee Seymour in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He played in Double A Jacksonville with Chisholm this year.

“Tremendous credit to each of them for stepping up and doing what they can, using their profile as professional players to help their country,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.

Donations are being accepted on the East and West Plaza at Marlins Park beginning two hours prior to first pitch through Thursday.

Needed items include water, canned goods, can openers, mosquito spray, sunscreen diapers, baby formula, first aid items, flashlights, batteries and small generators.

Fans can also donate $1 at any Marlins Park concession and round up their purchases and any Marlins Park retail stores. The Miami Marlins Foundation will match any donations.

“Just create as much awareness as we can to our friends in the Bahamas,” Hill said. “This whole homestand has been a concerted effort to try to bring in as many supplies as possible to help a hurricane-ravaged country. It hits close home to us with the three Bahamian players that we have in the organization.”

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The Marlins acquired Chisholm from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the July 31 trade deadline for pitcher Zac Gallen.

He played just 23 games in the Marlins organization, but impressed with a .284 batting average and nine extra-base hits. He dropped his strikeout rate from 33.8 percent during his time with the Diamondback’s Double A affiliate to 25.5 percent with the Jumbo Shrimp while still playing high-level defense.

Chisholm will be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason and will get an opportunity to showcase himself in spring training.

“He’s a prospect who’s not finished yet,” Hill said. “... As I said at the time that we acquired him, we paid a stiff price to get him, but we’re extremely pleased to have him as part of the organization.”

The Marlins signed Lewis on July 2 during the main wave of international free agency. Lewis, a 16-year-old switch hitter, was considered the top prospect coming out of the Bahamas this cycle.

“As we build this organization, we’re building with up-the-middle athletes,” Hill said. “... Just a matter of putting him in our development program, help him get stronger. We’re excited to see what the future holds for him.”

The immediate future, though, involves him helping his home country.

“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for helping my small island,” Lewis said.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.
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