Chicago Cubs prospect Jaisen Randolph was in school, everyday he made a
sacrifice; instead of taking the school bus he rode his bicycle two miles
to school every day.
The sacrifice Randolph
made was to help him keep his legs in shape for track and baseball.
This helped maintain and increase the deadly speed that he possesses to
burn up the base paths on a nightly basis. This sacrifice ended up
paying dividends for his base-stealing career, which has helped him become
one of the leaders in base stealing in the Midwest, Florida State, and the
Randolph's speed would prove to be
a virtue in the AA Southern League Championship, where he got a chance to
do something that every athlete that puts on a uniform dreams of: score
the winning run in a championship situation. Elevating his speed to
match the championship atmosphere rounding third, he threw his arms up in
the air because of the elation of winning the championship, and was
greeted by all of his Diamond Jaxx teammates celebrating their
"Everyone really wanted it
(the championship). Everyone was playing so hard. All the
teams were really playing hard because of the playoff atmosphere.
Our team stepped it up and felt like we could win," said
In addition to
scoring the winning run in a championship game, Randolph also got to live
out another dream: going to spring training with a major league baseball
team, as a member of the 40-man roster. At 21, playing with
superstars like Sammy Sosa and solid veteran players such as second
basemen Eric Young and shortstop Ricky Guiterriez, he learned a
"I was able to get along
with all the guys and had a lot of fun. Eric Young, Ricky
Guiterriez, and Sammy Sosa all took me under their wing. They
explained the game, and I really enjoyed being with those guys," said
Besides meeting and
learning from the major leaguers, he also got to experience the major
league catering, where virtually everything is available in the locker
"There is all kind of food
and drink available. If it isn't available, all you have to do is
talk to someone and they will be able to get it," said
Perhaps one of the factors
that helped Randolph get on the Cubs 40-man roster was his performance in
the Arizona Fall League in 2000. Going up against the cream of the
crop of the minor leagues, Randolph did more than hold his own. He
ended up hitting .302.
"That was the best league
I have ever been in. There was great pitching. Every
organization sends their best players over there. That is what
makes it so challenging," said Randolph.
Early in Randolph's
professional career in 1997, he was unphased by being at a new level
straight out of high school. It didn't bother him at all playing for
the rookie level Arizona Cubs. Randolph carried a batting average of
.266, with 26 RBI's and was one of the league leaders in 24 stolen
wasn't that much different really, because everyone at the rookie level is
just beginning," said Randolph.
Randolph also learned how
to switch hit, which gives him something extra to offer at a potential
leadoff position in the future.
"When I was
young, my friends and I used to play whiffle ball all the time. I
couldn't hit left-handed. They told me it was up to me whether I
chose to learn how to switch-hit. I worked with the hitting
coach. It only took me one instructional league in 1997 to learn how
to switch-hit," said Randolph.
In 1998, Randolph moved up
a level into the competitive world of the Midwest League, where some of
the top players in recent years have been developed. Once again,
Randolph was able to adjust to the competitive atmosphere and increased
competition, and responded by raising his average 23 points from his
rookie season to .289, with a homerun, 18 doubles, nine triples, and 32
In 1999, he found
himself in the Florida State League with Daytona. Success followed,
although his batting average dropped slightly to .272 with 16 doubles,
five triples, and increasing his power numbers with two homeruns,
and 37 RBIs.
The year 2000 in West
Tennessee proved to be not so terrific a year for Randolph in the average
department, hitting .243. But again, he produced with 15 doubles,
five triples, a homerun, 31 RBIs, and nearly broke Bo Porter's stolen
bases record last season with 46.
This year he was again
assigned to West Tennessee, after being sent down from major league spring
training. This season Randolph has experienced the ups and downs of
baseball. Recently he, went on the DL with a hamstring injury, which
will keep him out of action for a few weeks.
"That is frustrating
because I was just starting to get into a groove. This year I have
been kind of disappointed. I am going to miss some time and it is
hard to get back into things once you have been out of them for a while,"
Even though he is
injured, Randolph still remains in high spirits and hopes to keep
"They say baseball is 90
percent physical and 10 percent mental. I just want to continue to
improve on the mental aspect of things and hopefully, I will still be able
to combine my mental and physical game to become a good player," said
competitive fire comes from his brother, Reginald Randolph, and his
cousin, Eddy Joe. Whether it was playing football in the street,
racing each other at night, or taping up a tennis ball and hitting it
around the backyard, it was always
"I always got my toughness
from my brother. He was always pushing me to do better.
Whatever it was, we were competitive. Whether it was football or
video games, we were always competing," said Randolph.
helped Randolph become an outstanding football player in high school,
where he even received attention from local colleges such as Florida,
Florida State, and the University of Miami.
Encouragement from his mother to
pursue a career in baseball rather than football helped him decide to
choose baseball. It looked as though that was a good move when he
received the call in 1997, informing him that the Chicago Cubs had drafted
him in the fifth round.
His family also encouraged
him to choose professional baseball over college ball as
"My family thought it
would be good for me. It has paid off for me, god has blessed me,"
The rigors of professional
baseball wasn't easy at first, and still isn't an easy one at times.
Not only was he on the road and on his own for the first time in 1997, but
he was also away from his family.
"I think about my family every day. I
am going to Orlando soon, so I will be able to see them when I get down
there. I don't get to see my son as much as I would like to,
either. It gets really hard, especially when I am not doing as
well," said Randolph.
road to the major leagues will be in his routine, a routine that he has
tried to keep the same.
"Basically I am going to stick to the same
program that got me to this level. I hit a lot and throw a
lot. I am very accurate. Last year, I played in
leftfield. This year I am back in centerfield, where I feel more
comfortable. It is different because with each position in the
outfield, the ball comes at you at different angles," said