DUBAI: Dubai-based Baseball United, the first-ever professional baseball league focused on the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, have announced the eight baseball prospects who will compete alongside the league’s top players at the Baseball United All-Star Showcase in Dubai this week.
The inaugural event will feature the Baseball United West All-Stars versus the East All-Stars in a two-game series at Dubai International Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25.
These eight prospects include players from the Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Ugandan, and Palestinian baseball national teams. They are the first set of prospects announced by Baseball United and will be part of the league’s planned “Super 16” prospect group that will compete in league events next year.
The West All-Stars will include Saurabh Gaikwad (21 years old), right-handed pitcher out of Satara, India; Akshay More (19), right-handed pitcher out of Pune, India; and Akshay Mogal (22), infielder out of Nashik, India. Gaikwad and More are considered the nation’s best pitchers, with fastballs topping 90 MPH and several years of experience on the Indian national team, as well as at their university, Lovely Professional University in Punjab.
The West All-Star team will also include Palestinian national baseball team captain, Yunis Halim (26). Halim was the team’s Most Valuable Player at their recent second-place finish at the West Asia Cup in Islamabad, Pakistan, and also played two years of American college baseball at Chicago State University. Halim’s parents were born in Palestine and immigrated to Oak Lawn, Illinois just before he was born.
The East All-Stars will include Syed Mohammed Shah (20), infielder from Lahore, Pakistan; Wahid (19), infielder out of Khyber, Pakistan; and Hashan Senewirathna (20), infielder out of Colombo, Sri Lanka. All three prospects competed in the 2023 West Asia Cup, and all have been key members of their national team programs since childhood. Shah is the son of Syed Khawar Shah, who is widely considered the founder of baseball in Pakistan. The Pakistan national team won this year’s West Asia Cup and will be competing in the Asian Championships next month.
The East All-Star team also includes Ugandan catcher and outfielder, Dennis Kasumba (20). Kasumba, who has grown a following on social media through his inspiring workout and training videos, caught the eye of Baseball United CEO Kash Shaikh. The two connected via Instagram and then met via Zoom a few days later. Orphaned at a young age, Kasumba documented and shared his intense workouts on social media while earning $1 a day working in a slaughterhouse. He now will take the field in Dubai alongside former MLB legends like Bartolo Colon, Robinson Cano, and Pablo Sandoval.
“I am so excited for all of these guys,” said Shaikh. “They have all earned this opportunity. It will be a huge moment for them, and an incredible milestone for their families, communities, and countries. A core part of our vision at Baseball United is helping to build the grassroots and youth development ecosystem in all the countries in this region. We’ve been working with the national teams across South Asia and the Middle East for the past two years, and we’ve just begun our work in Africa. There are so many kids who love baseball on this side of the world, and there are a lot of prospects who we believe can compete at the professional level with the right training, support, and resources. In partnership with each country’s national baseball program, we will do our best to help provide those benefits.”
The Baseball United All-Star Showcase will represent the first professional baseball games ever played in the Middle East and South Asia.
Tickets are on sale now via Platinumlist or at baseballunited.com/tickets.