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MLB efforts to increase minorities in league impact two local high school baseball players

Desert Oasis high school pitcher D.J. Jefferson, a USC commit, is participating in his second MLB "Dream Series" in Arizona.

Major League Baseball’s second annual "Dream Series" got underway in Arizona Thursday, and two, hand-selected, local high school baseball players are participating in it.

The camp’s focus is on pitchers and catchers: two positions that Major League Baseball says a lack of minorities play.

Pitchers D.J. Jefferson and Aaron Roberts are both juniors at Desert Oasis High School and are two of more than sixty top level high school players that numerous college and professional scouts will observe throughout the weekend in Arizona, as those players receive an elite level of training and mentorship from former major leaguers like 21-year-veteran pitcher LaTroy Hawkins.

Jefferson, a USC commit, is attending the camp for the second time.

“LaTroy Hawkins, we’re friends,” said Jefferson. “We talked the whole entire five days we were there.”

“He talked to me about career, what I’m going to do in my future, and just, he helped me.”

The 2017 Racial and Gender Report Card, created by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, showed “the highest percentage of Latino players (31.9 percent) and total players of color (42.5) in MLB history.”

However, according to one of the report’s authors, Dr. Richard Lapchick, in an article for ESPN, “this encouraging finding comes when MLB also is reporting its lowest percentage of players who are black, African-American or African-Canadian (7.7) since we began these studies in 1991.”

Darryl Roberts is the father of Aaron Roberts who has yet to commit to a university.

He explained why he thinks there's a lack of black athletes in baseball.

“In the beginning, moms and dads don’t take their kids out to baseball, because it’s just expensive,” said Roberts. “You know, when you take a look at a bat, some of the bats that the kids play (with) are four and five hundred dollars.”

“Some are even more than that. When you talk about a good glove costing three, four hundred bucks, right there, the parents, you know, they see where this is heading.”

“If I’m a kid, and I know my parents are struggling, I’m going to elect to play basketball. I’m going to elect to play football, because if I want a chance to go to college, football and basketball, they’ll pay for the whole scholarship. Baseball, you’re only going to get a percentage.”

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