Following the Home Run Derby from on-site is … weird. It’s a made for TV event, really. And when you’re sitting out behind the left field foul pole in a temporary press box that is sort of insulated from the sounds of the ballpark you lose your gravity pretty quickly. I had the MLB.com feed on for a while but it was on a delay. Then they started pumping some foreign language broadcast of it. Eventually they caved and gave us Chris Berman. Back-back-back and, really, most of the writers here would be better following this on TV from home. Perhaps with the sound off. It’s be the same product for us with the added bonus that our employers would not have to pay for our dinner.
I got a steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda’s, by the way. It was glorious. Thanks, NBC.
Anyway, the first round happened. Here are the results:
Yoenis Cespedes: 17
Chris Davis: 8
Bryce Harper: 8
Michael Cuddyer: 7
Pedro Alvarez: 6
Prince Fielder: 5
David Wright: 5
Robinson Cano: 4
Cespedes’ performance was pretty impressive. Lots of long shots. Seemed to have a much better groove than anyone, and his total certainly reflects that. Bryce Harper’s advancing was somewhat surprising given that his dad — who pitched to him — was busting him inside a lot. Probably a lot of latent family issues there.
Cespedes, Davis, Harper and Cuddyer are now in the second round. Cespedes’ first round total almost ensures him a trip to the finals, but we’ll see. This thing will eventually end. And since it started with a performance by Pitbull, it will end better than it began.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.