Bayonne pitcher signs deal with Miami Marlins

A.J. Candelario will make his baseball debut for the team in the upcoming season

A pitcher from Bayonne has signed a deal to play baseball with the Miami Marlins. A.J. Candelario inked a minor league contract with the team in early February, and will soon be playing for a Marlins-affiliated team the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Low-A class of the Minor League Baseball (MiLB).

Born and raised in Bayonne, Candelario has been playing baseball since he can remember.

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“I’ve always played baseball, since I was four or five years old with the Bayonne Little League,” he said.

Candelario graduated from Mary J. Donohoe Community School, before continuing to play baseball at Marist High School. He played there for three years before transferring to Bayonne High School for his senior year. After graduating from Bayonne High School in 2016, he went off to play baseball in college.

“I went to school in Texas for a semester, and then I wound up going out to Miami Dade,” he said.

Elbow injury pauses career

Candelario continued to played baseball at Miami-Dade College in Florida after his brief stint in Texas. That was before a 2017 elbow injury requiring surgery prevented him from playing for two years.

“I had elbow surgery which set me back for two years,” he said. “I didn’t play baseball for two years. I just spent that time training and getting healthy. I learned about the game. And once I came back from that, I came back healthy. I stayed focused, stayed motivated, and I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

After finally healing, Candelario made a comeback during the 2021 season. He played on a semi-professional baseball known as the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Frontier League based out of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy in upstate New York.

“I played semi-pro in 2021 and then I got with the Marlins this year,” he said.

After only being with Miami-Dade for only one year before being injured, Candelario is set to return to Miami to live out his baseball dreams.

“It was a coincidence,” he said of heading back to Florida.

Ready for spring training

Currently, Candelario is awaiting to head to Palm Beach for spring training in a few weeks.

“We’ll be in spring training soon,” he said. “The offseason coming to an end this month.”

During the offseason, Candelario said he has been staying in shape.

“Every day we do a lot of weight training, drilling programs, things of that nature,” he said.

Candelario signed a deal with the Marlins on Feb. 9.

And Candelario is hoping to forge full steam ahead come spring training in Florida.

“I’ll be out there in Palm Beach for spring training,” he said. “Then I’ll start my first season in Jupiter.”

According to Candelario, he has his sights set on building on what he accomplished in college and continuing to progress as an athlete in the big leagues.

“It was always my dream,” he said. “It was my Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. I knew this is what I really wanted to do after my first year at Miami-Dade College.”

Determined and motivated

Candelario’s determination in part stems from the aforementioned elbow injury he has since recovered from.

Despite not being able to play for two years, Candelario’s vision of him playing baseball professionally never wavered.

“I knew I would always do it,” he said. “I didn’t know how I would do it, or when I would do it. But I knew eventually I’d get to where I need to get to.”

This was due to the support of his family, which he describes as his primary motivator including his mother Angela, grandmother Joanne, his great-grandmother Marie and his brothers Michael and Brandon.

“My biggest motivation is my family,” he said. “I love my family, my little brothers, my grandmother, and my mother.”

While they didn’t get to see him play while at Miami-Dade, they were able to see him pitch for the Tri-City ValleyCats.

“When we traveled down a little closer to Bayonne, they came out and watched a game or two,” he said.

Candelario’s great-grandmother, affectionately known by him as “Arie,” recently passed away. But he is motivated to keep making her proud.

She is one of my biggest motivations,” he said. “She always told me to stay focused and stay on the right path. She was a big believer in me.”

Back on the diamond

While Candelario is making a name for himself with the Marlins, he will always have that Bayonne spirit.

“The city has been nothing but great to me and respectful and really showed me a lot of love,” he said.

Candelario continued: “I’m really excited to be playing again. I’m thankful for family that’s behind me. They’re the ones that supported me a lot through this entire process. I’m excited to get out there and represent New Jersey.”

For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at 

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