Over the winter the Brewers traded reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston. In exchange, the Red Sox sent the Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw and two minor leaguers, Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington, to Milwaukee and agreed to send a player to be named later. Today that player was named: shortstop Yeison Coca.
Coca is only 18 and has only played in the Dominican Summer League. Despite this, he was the 25th-ranked prospect in the Red Sox system by Baseball America this spring after hitting .307/.370/.409 with 12 stolen bases and nine triples over 62 games during that summer league play. It’s difficult to project anyone as green as Coca is, but that’s an awfully nice piece heading back to Milwaukee.
This is especially true given how poorly the trade has already worked out for the Red Sox. Thornburg was a nice snag over the winter, coming off of a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.15 ERA while striking out 90 batters in 67 innings across 67 appearances. He has suffered shoulder problems, however, and hasn’t pitched since the first week of spring training games. Shaw, meanwhile, deemed expendable by the return of Pablo Sandoval, is hitting .292/.339/.530 with ten homers and 40 RBI on the season for Milwaukee.
The trade made sense at the time, but has turned out pretty bad for Boston. If Coca lives up to expectations, it’ll look even worse later.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.