The tour is a series of events where young baseball players – especially African Americans and Latinos – perform in a series of practices in front of coaches appointed by MLB, with the goal of finding the best athletes and to invite them to the future development of baseball. programs. These events include the Breakthrough Series, the DREAM Series, and the Hank Aaron Invitational.
Kindu Jones, MLB’s senior baseball development coordinator, was on hand at Pearl, where eighth- and ninth-grade baseball players participated in the event.
“We’re traveling to 12 cities in six weeks, and this is an opportunity for us to go to areas that aren’t as exposed as others,” Jones said. “We try to provide a standard of training sessions to identify players for development opportunities within our department. This is our fifth stop of 12, and we’re just trying to find diamonds in the rough.
The ID Tour is a coast-to-coast affair. It has already made stops in Sacramento, Oakland, Dallas and Houston. Upcoming locations include Montgomery, Ala., Charleston, SC, Charlotte, NC, Washington DC, Lehigh Valley, Penn., Staten Island, NY and the Bronx, NY
The tour started in 2019, but this is the first time it’s stopped in Magnolia State. Over 40 young people attended the Pearl event, earning it one of the highest turnouts to date. Jones was pleased with the turnout and he wants the tour to continue making appearances around the state.
“We were pretty excited when we saw the numbers that signed up and then really excited when we saw the turnout,” he said. “It lets us know that we need to keep coming back and keep building a level of sustainability in Mississippi and keep impacting the community that way.”
Athletes completed a series of warm-up drills before splitting into specific infield and outfield drills. The pitchers did some work in the bullpen and before the end of the event, every player had the opportunity to practice batting.
Cameron Scott was also one of the talent evaluators at the event. He’s been with MLB for three years and it was clear that Mississippi’s talent impressed him.
“It was one of the most enthusiastic turnouts we’ve had this year,” he said. “The kids were great. They had a lot of energy. They had a lot of talent on goal, on the pitch and with the sticks. And even better, they were character kids all around.
Landyn Baker, an eighth grader at Clinton Junior High School in Clinton, Miss., was one of the athletes in attendance. His experience was positive and he learned a lot from it.
“It was a good experience,” Baker said. “I learned to get out of my head and play the game the right way.”
Deuce Jenkins is a seventh grader at Northwest Rankin Junior High School in Flowood, Mississippi. He agreed with Baker’s assessment.
“The experience has been great,” Jenkins said. “We have great coaches, great players and a great all-round squad.”
As for coaches, they know they have a unique opportunity to help provide opportunities for young members of minority groups in the baseball world. Carlos Suarez – who has been on the tour since 2019 – was one of the coaches at the event, and he was aware of that responsibility.
“This opportunity means everything,” he said. “That’s why we’re here. We [members of minority groups] have not always had these opportunities in the past. Coming here and doing what we do is special. It’s important to the community, it’s important to everyone, and it’s important to the game.”
“For me, it’s an opportunity to pay it forward,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities that people gave me as a kid in downtown New York that we as staff are now able to give back to those kids.”
Who knows? Maybe the next Billy Hamilton or Jarrod Dyson will come from this group of young Pearls.