The Visalia Rawhide announced Saturday, the eight players that will represent their teams in the California League Home Run Derby on Monday, June 19 at Rawhide Ballpark. Tenth-ranked MLB and top-ranked Colorado Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers, Cal League home run leader Ibandel Isabel, and Visalia Rawhide All-Star Marty Herum headline the selections for the Derby.
Each hitter will be given two minutes to hit as many home runs as he can in a bracket-style tournament. The representatives of the four South Division teams will square off against each other, followed by the North Division sluggers in the opening round. After each division holds their second round, the two division champions will square off to decide the California League’s top home run hitter.
“We’re excited to put a twist on the traditional home run derby this year by having each player represent their team in a tournament,” said Rawhide General Manager Jennifer Reynolds. “The group of players that has been selected to represent their team and division should put on an outstanding show for all fans in attendance.”
Rodgers, who is putting together a career year at the plate, was the first-round draft pick, third overall, of the Rockies in 2015 and will hit for the Lancaster Jethawks. He blasted 19 home runs with Class-A Ashville last season and, as he approaches the All-Star break this season, he already has hit 11 while maintaining a .404 batting average.
Herum is making his third Mid-Season All-Star appearance in the past four seasons and has hit 4 home runs for Visalia this year. He has tremendous gap-to-gap power, leads the league with 22 doubles, and ranks in the league’s top four with a .498 slugging percentage.
Isabel, the 21-year-old first-baseman from the Dominican Republic, leads the California league with 15 home runs in 61 games played and will represent the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. His home run production this season has already surpassed his total from last season (12) and has nearly doubled his career total to 38.
The representative of the Lake Elsinore Storm will be 19-year old first-baseman Josh Naylor. The Ontario, Canada, native has blasted 7 home runs this season and was a first-round draft pick of the Miami Marlins in 2015. Naylor was drafted for his tremendous raw power and was named as a Futures Game Selection while with Greensboro in the South Atlantic League last season. Naylor is San Diego’s 13th-ranked prospect.
The San Jose Giants will rest their Derby hopes on the shoulders of Aramis Garcia. Garcia is putting together a solid year at the plate and has blasted eight home runs for San Jose while driving home a team-leading 44 runs. The 13th-ranked prospect for San Francisco, Garcia was selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2014 draft.
Seth Brown will be hitting home runs for the Stockton Ports. The former 19th round draft choice of Oakland has blasted 11 homers this season, good for third in the league, after hitting eight with Stockton in 2016.
The Modesto Nuts will be represented by Logan Taylor, who has hit six home runs this year. Taylor was originally a 12th round draft pick by Seattle out of Texas A&M in 2014.
Jose Rojas will stand in for the Inland Empire 66ers. Rojas is in his second year of professional baseball after being drafted by the Los Angeles in the 36th round last year and has hit nearly as many home runs this season, four, as he did through the entirety of his debut season in 2016, five.
The Home Run Derby will take place as the grand finale of the All-Star Fan Fest, which will take place at Recreation Park in Visalia on Monday, June 19th. The Groppetti Automotive Fan Fest will also include the Lions International Charity Beep Baseball Game to benefit the Tulare Blind Babies Foundation, the In-N-Out Burger High School Hitting Challenge where seven local high school baseball and softball players will compete to win scholarship money, and the All-Star Skills Challenge. The Skills Challenge will feature Cal-League All-Stars alongside fans competing in such events as a lemon throwing contest, a chicken chase for speed, precision lasso roping, and the traditional Visalia Cow Milking Contest.
Visalia will host the California League All-Star Game and Fan Fest for the first time in 28 years on June 19th and 20th. For tickets and more information visit Rawhidebaseball.com or call 559-732-4433. You can follow the Rawhide on Twitter (@VisaliaRawhide), Facebook (TheRawhide), Instagram (@visaliarawhide) and Snap Chat (visaliarawhide). Players denoted with an asterisk will not participate in the All-Star festivities.