It was the day that 17-year-old Janero Miller dreamed of – signing day – for him. That came yesterday when Major League Baseball’s (MLB) number 16 international prospect signed on the dotted line with the Miami Marlins and donned the team’s jersey for the first time inside the foyer of the Thomas A. National Stadium.
The International-Elite (I-Elite) Sports Academy and Freedom Farm product was the third Bahamian to be signed by the Marlins organization yesterday, joining MaxD products Breyias Dean and Daniel Gaitor as the MLB international signing period continued. All three are part of the government of The Bahamas’ subvention program.
The trio brings the total to four Bahamians who have already signed in this window of MLB’s international signing period with two more remaining. Chad Delancy (Boston Red Sox) and Andrew Arthur (St. Louis Cardinals) remain. Sebastian Walcott kicked off the signings on Sunday when he made it official with the Texas Rangers.
According to the Miami Herald, the 6’2” Miller is set to receive a $950,000 signing bonus. He is touted as an outfielder and a switch hitter who can throw a fastball up to 92 miles per hour. His coach at I-Elite, Geron Sands, went as far as calling him the “Bahamian Shohei Ohtani”. Ohtani plays for the Los Angeles Angels and is the best two-way player in MLB today.
Flocked by his mother, father, relatives, coaches and friends, Miller teared up a few times as he thanked persons for elevating him to this point, joining many other Bahamians in MLB’s farm system.
“I started playing baseball at the age of nine. I was not good at it. Every other sport I had tried came naturally, but for baseball, I had to work a little harder,” said Miller. “There are no other words that I can express for how grateful I am that I am now going to play professional sports.”
The center fielder and left-handed pitcher urged corporate Bahamas to support young persons like himself. Miller thanked organizations and groups such as Commonwealth Bank; Bank of The Bahamas; ICS Security; the Jubilee Gardens Auxiliary Committee, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture; and the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) for giving him financial support in achieving his dream. Miller expressed gratitude to the Marlins organization for the opportunity and for making his dream a reality.
Marlins Senior Director of International Operations Adrian Lorenzo was on hand to welcome Miller to the organization. He reminisced about when he and Sands started this journey of Bahamian baseball intrusion into the professional ranks years ago and how The Bahamas was going to be special.
“I had this gut feeling that the Bahamian market was primed to be something special because I saw a high level of athleticism, a high level of aptitude,” Lorenzo said. “They have the advantage of already speaking English and in a sport where you’re going to have to do that and a lot of your Latin American counterparts have that as an obstacle for them for a few years before they can get started, is a vital thing. I just had a good strong feeling that this was coming and developing as a baseball market.”
Lorenzo spoke about Miller and what he brings to the organization.
“The most obvious part is the raw natural ability. He’s that type of player where you get on the field and like your eyes go right to him, no matter who else is on the field. It’s like they go right to him. He’s got a special presence to him. He’s got that X factor that we always talk about as evaluators, that we always hope that we find and that’s before he even started doing anything baseball-related. Then, when he starts doing the baseball-related things, he starts to impress. I always had a good strong gut feeling based on our interactions that he was of high character and a high integrity person. This signing tonight (Tuesday), and what people have said about him, just reinforced that in a way that I didn’t quite understand,” Lorenzo said.
Sands thanked Lorenzo and the Marlins organization for believing in Miller and chimed in on the prospect who he had at I-Elite for six years, calling him one of the best players he ever developed.
“He’s a leader on and off the field. He’s an excellent student. He’s very intelligent, caring and mature. It’s been an absolute pleasure to mentor and develop and train him from the age of 11,” Sands said.
Former professional baseball player Albert Cartwright, who co-founded I-Elite with Sands, was happy to see Miller’s dream become a reality.
“It’s a proud moment to see Miller being able to take this next step for his dream to get to the big leagues. It’s also a sad movement for me because for the last few years, Miller has been under my wing. There’s been so many obstacles that we had to go through with him being a pitcher and a position player. He had to put in double work to be able to get to this point,” Cartwright said. “It’s been a lot of good moments and a lot of learning points that he had to get through. There’s been some ups, there’s been a lot of downs, but that’s going to prepare him for his journey with the Marlins and I’m excited to watch it. I’m excited to see him grow and I’m excited to be a part of his journey as he continues to go on.”
Miller’s first stop for the Marlins will be down in the Dominican Republic in the Dominican Summer League.
Overall, the Marlins’ class of 2023 includes 19 players from the Dominican Republic (DR), nine from Venezuela, three from The Bahamas and one from Japan.