The minor leagues are tough; they’re a grind. I thought it would be glamorous; it wasn’t. But it really made me appreciate what it would look like to one day be a big-leaguer. Each year, I saw myself getting better. The good thing was that I always had some guys around me whom I could really relate to. I also had guys who could be my mentors, as well as guys next to me who were motivating me to play at their level.
I’ll never forget the day that the manager told me I was going up to the major leagues. Immediately I was speechless; I didn’t know what to say. I had worked so hard for this day. The first thing I did was immediately thank God. I thanked Him for not giving up on me, and for allowing me to stay healthy up to this point.
As I continued the grind into the big leagues, my agent was telling me that Japan had interest in me playing overseas. With me being a fringe big-league player, it was always something I kept in my back pocket. After my 2016 season with the Marlins, I was a free agent and my agent told me it may be a good opportunity to play over in Korea for a couple of years and then try to come back. I was not familiar with Korea at all but I started to look it up a little bit.
One day my agent called me and said the NC Dinos in South Korea put an offer on the table, but I only had 48 hours to decide. I didn’t even have time to pray about it. I would have to move my family to Korea within 48 hours to sign! I told him I couldn’t do it. I needed more time to think about it.
The team signed someone else. A couple days later, a few days before I was going to marry my wife, she and I started talking more about it. We prayed about it and went back to my agent. I said, “Is the opportunity still there for us to go?” He came back to me that same day and said that they would send the other guy to another team and take me. Just like that, we were married and moved to Korea.
Baseball in Korea is very similar to baseball in the States. But I wasn’t really sure what Christianity looked like in Korea. It was really important for me and my wife to set up our own fellowship time and time in the Word. I soon found out that a group of Korean players and a group of players from the States did a weekly online Bible study together. That was a really big part of me staying solid in my faith and growing closer to God while in Korea.
I couldn’t do that journey without my wife. She had to give up a really good job in corporate sales to come with me. We knew if we were going to go we’d have to go with an open mind, ready to try new things and get involved with the community around us. And we did. She pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone in many ways there, and they ended up calling her the “Emperor of South Korea.” She was a bigger celebrity than I was, so it was really cool.
— Xavier Scruggs, professional baseball player
Xavier Scruggs is a regular contributor to The Increase and provides monthly articles and opinions. Check out Xavier’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/xavierscruggs/
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