SBL finalizes 20-man Mini Games team

Posted on May 24 2022


The final 20 players of the CNMI National Baseball Team pose with their coaches and umpires before their inter-squad scrimmage last Saturday at the Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Softball Field. (MARK RABAGO)

The Saipan Baseball League has released its final 20-man roster for the CNMI National Baseball Team that seeks to maintain the Commonwealth’s baseball supremacy in the region for next month’s Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022.

The team is headlined by former University of West Alabama Tigers pitcher Josh Jones. Joining Jones in the pitching staff are J.P. Sablan, Franko Nakamura, Lorenzo Sabklim, and Jacob Babauta.

The team’s outfielders, meanwhile, include Ben Jones Jr., Tyrone Omar, Anthony Tenorio, and Juan Iguel. The infielders are Byron Kaipat, Darion Jones, Shane Yamada, Diego Camacho, A.J. Lizama, Lamarc Iguel, Nokki Saralu, Dennis Cabrera, Patrick Alepuyo, Jerald Cabrera, and Keoni Lizama.

SBL president Jay Santos commended team manager Manny Sablan and his staff for assembling the islands’ best baseball players who are now tasked to defend the gold medal the CNMI won the last time baseball was played in the Pacific Games, which was 2009 in New Caledonia.

“Coach Manny and his staff have selected a very talented final roster, albeit there were some very difficult decisions to be made with the final cut. This squad is strong defensively and is capable of producing runs as their hitting will be great. We will be very competitive with our pitching and I expect our defense will be superior when the Mini Games begin. The entire team has worked very hard to get into great baseball shape and I am very thankful to our final roster of players and all of those who tried out for the team for the time, effort, and sacrifice they’ve put in,” he said.

Santos also acknowledged that trimming the roster down to 20 was probably one of the toughest decisions Sablan, head coach Derron Sablan, and assistant coach Gary Cruz had to make in their careers. It can be recalled that nearly 60 players showed up during tryouts before the field was cut to 36 and then before the final cuts, the roster stood at 25 including five alternates.

“I wish we could’ve gone with a roster of 25 players as the final cuts were tough. This whole process reminded me that we have some very talented baseball players on island. This being the first time a tryout was conducted to put together the squad it was taxing on the coaching staff, players, and their families. In the end, we firmly believe we will field the CNMI’s best baseball players for the Pacific Mini Games,” he said.

Aside from Sablan and the coaching staff, the national team also had Joey Tudela serve as its strength and conditioning coach and brought in CNMI Hall of Famer Chris Nelson as pitching coach.

Baseball, which will be played at the Francisco “Tan’Ko” Palacios Baseball Field, has five countries throwing their hats in the ring and they are Fiji with 18, Guam with 20, Palau with 20, Solomon Islands with 18, and the aforementioned Northern Marianas with 20.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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