I just saw Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs refer to this as “BryceGhazi” and we’re not gonna top that, so we shouldn’t even try.
The controversy: Bryce Harper, in defeating Kyle Schwarber in the Home Run Derby last night, didn’t follow the rules. Or else his dad, who was pitching to him didn’t. The rule in question is that the pitcher has to wait for the last hit ball to land before delivering the next one. Given that the Derby is a timed event, such a thing matters, of course, because the faster you get pitches the faster you can hit them out of the park. At least if you don’t get too tired first.
Harper’s dad was a bit quick with the final three pitches in the final round, allowing Harper to get to 18, tying Kyle Schwarber before winning it outright with his 30 seconds bonus time. Watch as Harper waves for his dad to deliver the pitch while the last ball is still flying:
I’m not gonna argue that he didn’t do it. I will say, however, that no one should really care. Mostly because it’s the Home Run Derby and it doesn’t matter a bit. Getting mad about this is a half-step removed from getting mad that Blackjack Mulligan used a foreign object to gouge Pedro Morales’ eyes during a house show in 1976. Yes, it’s true, but c’mon, we’re entertaining people here.
I have not seen any suggestion that Kyle Schwarber is upset, but if he later says he is I’ll simultaneously understand yet still roll my eyes. I doubt MLB will do anything here or issue a statement of any kind. If it does, I’ll roll my eyes harder. Because, I repeat: It’s the Home Run Derby.
The Marlins will hold a news conference on Monday, per a team announcement. The exact nature of the conference has not yet been disclosed, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro speculates that it is likely to focus on Víctor Víctor Mesa and Víctor Mesa Jr., two brothers and outfield prospects who have been linked to the organization over the last several weeks. CEO Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are expected to be in attendance.
Víctor Víctor Mesa, 22, stands out as an above-average defender in center field and a premier talent in the international market. According to reports following the brothers’ workout at Marlins Park in early October, Víctor Víctor carries plenty of power potential at the plate, though it’s not yet clear how that will translate to in-game opportunities. The young outfielder produced a lifetime .279/.329/.371 batting line, 11 home runs, 76 stolen bases, and a .701 OPS over six seasons with the Matanzas and Industriales of the Cuban National Series and the Cuban national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
There’s more uncertainty around 17-year-old Víctor Mesa, Jr., who was noted by scouts for his athleticism and above-average arm during the international prospects’ showcase several weeks ago. He previously played for Cuba’s 18U national team and appears to have potential in the outfield as well.
An additional report from Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald clarifies that the Mesa brothers have already been in Miami for the past few days and are thought to have undergone the medical examinations necessary to sign with the team. If that’s the case, the club is in position to announce the signings next week. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds that Víctor Víctor Mesa could command a signing bonus upwards of $5 million, while Víctor Mesa Jr. stands to receive something in the ballpark of $1 million.