‘Jazz’ shows off speed in series against Rays

Bahamian professional baseball player with the Miami Marlins Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm appears to already be seeing the ball much better early this season than he did in his breakthrough season in the majors in 2020, and his speed is a factor.

Technically still a rookie, and rocking blue hair for the Marlins’ opening series of 2021, the 23-year-old infielder has connected for two hits in his first 10 at-bats of the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season.

Finishing off a weekend series with the Tampa Bay Rays, Chisholm was 2-for-10 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. So far this season, he has a .333 on-base percentage (OBP), a .400 slugging percentage (SLG.) and a .733 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). The Marlins dropped two of the three games to the Rays, losing 1-0 on Thursday and 6-4 on Friday before exploding for a dozen runs in a 12-7 victory on Saturday.

In the opening game of the series, Chisholm was hitless in three at-bats and the Marlins fell 1-0 to the Rays. Defensively, Chisholm had an assist in that season opener against the Rays.

The following day, Chisholm’s bat came to life. He finished 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

In his first at-bat in the bottom of the third, Chisholm flew out to Rays’ right fielder Randy Arozarena, taking an 85.1 miles per hour (mph) sinker from Rays’ starting pitcher Ryan Yarbrough and lifting it to right field for the first out in that inning. In his next at-bat in the bottom of the fifth, Chisholm singled to Rays’ center Manuel Margot, this time getting the better of Yarbrough. He connected on an 85.5mph sinker for his first hit of the year.

Chisholm’s first extra-base hit of 2021 came in the bottom of the seventh with two out. He drilled a 79.1mph slider from Rays’ relief pitcher Chaz Roe to right center field, and showed off his speed by hustling to third base for a triple. Chisholm started a two-out rally with that triple, and eventually came home on a double by Corey Dickerson to end Miami’s 15-inning scoreless drought to open the season.

The Marlins added two more runs that inning, and led 3-2 after seven. However, the Rays erupted for four runs in the top of the ninth, and ended up winning the game. 6-4. Defensively, Chisholm had a busy day in the field with five assists, two putouts and he was a part of two double plays.

On Saturday, Chisholm ended the three-game series with the Rays, going hitless in four at-bats, but he did have a walk, stole two bases and scored a run. Defensively, he had two assists, two putouts and was a part of another double play. The two stolen bases is what really stood out, exhibiting his speed, particularly since he was able to swipe second despite Rich Hill stepping off the mound and throwing to second. During that same at-bat, Chisholm took off for third, making it comfortably ahead of the throw, while recording a sprint speed of 29.5 feet per second.

Chisholm’s elite speed allowed him to manufacture a run as he came home in that same at-bat on a shallow fly ball to right field. He turned it up another gear, sliding home in 30.6 feet per second from third base.

“We have aggressive runners, we’ve got Jazz in the lineup,” All-Star outfielder Starling Marte said to Marlins’ beat writer Christina De Nicola via an interpreter. “Thank goodness we have him. He’s a young guy, very few days here in MLB, but you can see the talent that he has. He has so many tools. We’re very happy just having him.”

With Chisholm leading the way, the Marlins lead the majors with six stolen bases. Chisholm has two of them, as many as he had in 56 at-bats in 2020. He certainly has speed on the basepaths and could provide a spark at the bottom of the Marlins’ line-up.

“Part of the vision I think [Marlins’ Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter] has is he wants an exciting club that’s athletic and has speed all over the place,” said Marlins’ Manager Don Mattingly to De Nicola. “We’re headed in that direction. Obviously it’s not up and down the lineup totally, but speed is just one of those things that it’s hard to defend and puts pressure on the pitchers and everything else. So yes, it’s nice to have it.”

For the season, Chisholm is batting .200 with two hits in 10 at-bats, two runs scored and those two stolen bases. Defensively, he has eight assists, four putouts and has been a part of three double plays. He has a fielding percentage of 1.000 for the season. 

Chisholm started at second base and batted either sixth or seventh in each game of the three-game series for the Marlins against the Rays.

The Marlins opened up a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida, last night, but the result of that game was unavailable up to press time.