V.I.’s Jabari Blash signs with Mariners

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 It took a personal sit-down meeting with Davie Johnson, a senior adviser for the Washington Nationals, before Jabari Blash made a decision on his Major League Baseball future.
 Blash, a St. Thomas native and former Charlotte Amalie High School star, signed a professional baseball contract with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday after being drafted by the organization in the 8th round of the 2010 MLB Draft in June.
 It was the third time Blash has been drafted — the first time came after he graduated high school — but the Miami Dade Community College sophomore felt now is the right time.
 “Jabari has been playing under Davie Johnson in the Florida Collegiate League this summer and he went with his advice,” said V.I. Future Stars founder Darren Canton, who played a big role in the scouting process. “He told Jabari to go and not worry about the money. He signed near the deadline for drafted players and now he can go out and produce.”
 Blash’s signing bonus is for just under $200,000, Canton said, and the Seattle Mariners will also pay for three years of tuition at the University of Miami.
 In the five-year history of the Future Stars program, four players have been drafted but none have signed a Major League contract. Until this summer.
 Blash became the third V.I. baseball player to sign a professional contract in the last two months. Akeel Morris, a recent Charlotte Amalie High School graduate, signed with the New York Mets on June 14 and Western Oklahoma State College product Jamaine Cotton, an Ivanna Eudora Kean High School graduate, signed with the Houston Astros on June 11.
 James Sneed, a recent St. Croix Educational Complex graduate, was also drafted, which means he has until Aug. 15 to negotiate a contract.
 “It’s been a great summer for V.I. baseball,” Canton said. “We have three new players now playing professionally in summer leagues and the V.I. national team is being competitive in Puerto Rico.”
 Blash, a 20-year-old outfielder, reported to the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona League on Thursday for a physical and is hoping to start playing this weekend.
 Canton said after a week in Arizona, he will start playing for a rookie-level summer team in Pulaski, Va., in the Appalachian League. It’s the same league Cotton is playing in with the Astros and the two are sure to meet on the field before the summer is over.
 The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Blash had a .341 batting average with five doubles, two triples, a home run, 12 RBIs and 31 runs for Miami Dade in 29 games last year.
 Blash was drafted by the Chicago White Sox out of high school and the Texas Rangers selected him last year. The Mariners announced the signing of Blash earlier this week along with two other players — right-handed pitcher Stephen Landazuri, who was taken in the 22nd round, and right-handed pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen, selected in the 45th round.
 — Contact sports reporter Aaron Gray at 774-8772 ext. 352 or e-mail agray@dailynews.vi.

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