Last night, the TinCaps’ shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., had an opportunity to compete in his first Midwest League Home Run Derby as he faced off against some of the most exciting prospects in the game, including the Blue Jays’ Vlad Guerrero Jr.
The competition had a bit of a different format than the traditional home run derby with every participant given three minutes in the first and second rounds to hit as many long balls as possible rather than a certain number of outs.
Of course, this meant the hitters were motivated to swing at pitches that may not have been ideal batting practice throws, potentially interrupting their rhythm, but nevertheless, Tatis flashed the type of immense power that is uncommon in middle infielders.
During his first three minutes, Tatis stepped to the plate in a ballpark whose towering left field wall is known to limit right-handed power and crushed six home runs, which was just enough to advance to the next round along with Carlos Rincon (Dodgers), Vlad Guerrero (Blue Jays), and Blaise Salter (Tigers).
Rincon got things rolling in the second round, crushing a whopping thirteen home runs, but Salter left the door open with a more attainable six home runs.
Tatis proceeded to smash eight homers in his turn, but as he confessed to Chris Goff of Fort Wayne’s Journal Gazette, he wasn’t feeling to optimistic about his chances, saying, “When I saw I only hit eight, I said, ‘No chance,’ because Rincon and Vlad are two beasts.”
Well, those feelings were certainly warranted as Guerrero powered past him with eleven to punch his ticket to the last round, but it wasn’t even a contest in that final showdown between Rincon and Guerrero because the Dodgers prospect jacked a sensational twenty home runs in an extended four minute period.
Despite Guerrero’s loss, it was his towering shots that had former Padres’ DSL Manager Jeremy Rodriguez raving, “His swings are violent…They’re very aggressive; very exciting to see. I saw Vladimir before he signed, in the Dominican, I was working in the Dominican Republic with the San Diego Padres. So seeing him evolve into the player he is now is really scary. It’s really scary because I know he has more in him, and I know he has more years to come.”
Tatis will continue his All Star festivities tonight as he joins Fort Waynes’ Jorge Oña and Logan Allen in the Midwest League All Star game that kicks off at 6:05 pm EST.