Triple-A Home Run Derby participants announced

Jul. 08, 2014 @ 10:58 PM

The top home run hitter in International League history and former Durham Bulls star Dan Johnson are among the six players who will take part in the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby, which will take place Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The three participants from both the International League and the Pacific Coast League were announced on Tuesday.

Mike Hessman will be making his fourth appearance in the event, which he has never won. On June 30th he hit his 259th career IL home run to break a record set by Ollie Carnegie that has stood since 1945. The 36-year-old from the Toledo Mud Hens has 15 home runs entering Tuesday.

Buffalo’s Dan Johnson leads the IL with 17 home runs and won the 2010 Triple-A Home Run Derby as a member of the Durham Bulls. Johnson won the IL MVP Award that season, leading the league in home runs (30), RBI (95), on-base percentage (.430) and slugging percentage (.624) despite being called up to the Tampa Bay Rays in early August.

The IL’s third participant is Columbus 24-year-old Jesus Aguilar, who has 12 homers in his first season in Triple-A.

Durham Bulls infielder Wilson Betemit, who has 14 home runs, was invited to participate in the competition, but he said he declined in order to rest his knees.

Mike Jacobs, Francisco Pena and Allan Dykstra will represent the PCL. Jacobs has more than 100 Major League homers, including 32 for the Marlins in 2008. He has 12 so far this season for Reno, the same team that produced 2013 Home Run Derby champion Matt Davidson.

Omaha’s Pena, the son of Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, has already hit a career-high 15 home runs this season. Dykstra, MVP of the Double-A Eastern League last season, has 12 home runs in his first season in Triple-A while playing with Las Vegas.

The home run derby will consist of three rounds. In each of the first two rounds, participants will receive eight outs. For the first seven outs (any swing that does not result in a home run), the hitters will use their traditional wood bats. For the final out of the round, the sluggers will swing with high-performance composite bats like those used in collegiate baseball.

The championship round will consist of a five-out showdown between two finalists in which composite bats will again be in play for the final out. The final round will also feature longtime Cary American Legion coach Clay Council, who served up 28 first-round homers to Josh Hamilton at the 2008 MLB Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium.

NOTE – The Bulls also announced Tuesday that the 2014 Triple-A Home Run Derby will be the first professional baseball event to adopt “3D swing analysis.” Zepp Labs will mount sensor on each bat, which will allow home run swings to be replayed in 3D on the videoboard, along with metrics like bat speed at impact.