In Jeimer Candelario, Christopher Morel is reunited with inspiration, mentor
Christopher Morel still remembers gathering around a television in 2016 with the rest of the Cubs’ prospects at their Dominican complex to watch Jeimer Candelario make his major league debut.
Morel and the group of young players were ecstatic. After all, this was someone who had come up through the complex like them, had reached the ultimate goal and was playing for an eventual-World Series winning team.
But Candelario wasn’t just an inspiration on the field. Candelario routinely offered advice and support to the other prospects at the Dominican Complex.
For Morel, it was personal, too. Both were Christians and chasing the same goal.
“He’d always share the Good Word with me,” Morel said. “He’d encourage me so that I could go on a good path from the beginning.”
They used to spend time together in the offseason to catch up. But when Candelario was traded from the Cubs organization, the relationship kind of faded.
“Honestly, we didn’t have too much communication, but every time that I achieved something or when he would achieve something or when he was moved from Detroit to Washington, we always communicated then, congratulating one another, saying ‘Keep working, don’t stop now,’” Morel said.
So, when the Cubs traded for Candelario, Morel had to be ecstatic, right? Not exactly.
“I felt sad for my teammate [shortstop prospect Kevin] Made,” Morel admitted.
After all, Made came through the complex, too and Morel has been to the young Latino prospects what Candelario was 7 years ago — an inspiration and mentor — and Made was one of those Morel looked after.
But after a moment of sadness, Morel realized the situation he and his teammates were in with the acquisition of Candelario.
“Later, seeing how the front office is noticing that we need someone here and where you can see, there’s a reinforcement coming to the team, you feel more of a support behind us,” Morel said. “It feels like they are supporting us and it feels good.”
Tuesday, he was reunited with that inspiration he watched on TV in the Dominican Republic. And Candelario is still that mentor. They said hello on the field at Wrigley before taking batting practice and the duo discussed hitting and philosophies and immediately put it into practice.
“The whole time I was making solid contact,” Morel said. “He’s always trying to get better and he’s always looking to support you and that’s the kind of person that you need.”