Teoscar Hernández Becomes First Dodgers Player to Win MLB’s Home Run Derby

Teoscar Hernández is a swing-ular sensation…

The 31-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Bobby Witt Jr. to claim the 2024 Home Run Derby title at Globe Life Field.

Teoscar HernándezWhen the final swing launched a ball into the night, Witt narrowed his eyes and Hernández held his breath. An otherwise unremarkable Derby was suddenly careening toward a dramatic ending – one that would come down to a matter of feet.

The ball off Witt’s bat ultimately caromed off the base of the centerfield fence, prompting a sigh of disappointment from him and a triumphant thrust of Hernández’s arms into the air.

In the Derby finals, Hernández defeated Witt by the narrowest of margins: 14 home runs to 13, just as he’d survived a swing-off to win by one homer in the semifinals.

Hernández, a widely beloved teammate and consistent power source over the past decade, became the first Los Angeles Dodgers player to win the Derby. He took home a $1 million prize, a medallion that said “DERBY CHAMP” and the pride of standing in against perhaps baseball’s best young star and more than matching him swing for swing.

“It doesn’t matter who I’m going against. I’m going to bet on myself,” said Hernández, who entered the Derby with the sixth-longest odds of the eight-man field. “People maybe underestimate me. You can see it at the end when Witt was hitting all those homers. Everybody was shooting for him. But I’m [as] talented as all those guys over there. They might be younger, but same talent.”

Witt, the Kansas City Royals shortstop who grew up 20 minutes from Globe Life Field, won the High School Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in Washington, D.C, six years ago and looked primed to take another Derby title Monday.

In the event’s new format, players could see a maximum of 40 pitches over three minutes, then could hit as many home runs as possible before missing three in a bonus round. In the final, the time was reduced to two minutes and the pitches 27.

Participating in his first Derby, Hernández became the seventh player from the Dominican Republic to win the event. He had gotten hot in the middle of his final round and built a strong advantage on Witt, who struggled to start his round.

By the end, Witt hit 11 home runs and earned an extra out in bonus time by hitting a ball over 425 feet.

“I was nervous,” Hernández said.

The nerves were understandable, particularly on the last swing. With his brother-in-law James Russell — a former Chicago Cubs reliever — throwing to him, Witt hammered a ball toward center field.

Though it’s generally a dead zone for home run contests, Witt struck it well enough to convince many of the 38,578 in attendance that he had tied Hernández.

“I thought I had a chance when I hit it,” Witt said, “but I saw it was just a little bit too high.”

Hernández celebrated with his former teammate and 2023 Derby champion, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who was wearing Hernández’s jersey from their days with the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s where Hernández developed into the sort of power threat the Dodgers coveted this winter and signed to a one-year free agent contract to join Shohei OhtaniMookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in Los Angeles’ powerful lineup.

Hernández will start in centerfield for the National League on Tuesday and was invited as part of a field that lacked the star power of Derbies in the past decade won by the likes of Aaron JudgeBryce Harper and Juan Soto.

Hernández barely advanced to the semifinals, finishing behind Philadelphia third baseman Alec Bohm, Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez and Witt in the first round.

Two-time Derby champion Pete Alonso bowed out, hitting only 12 home runs, as did Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson and hometown favorite Adolis Garcia of the Texas Rangers, who finished one home run behind Hernandez’s 19.

In the semifinals, Hernández and Bohm tied with 14 home runs over their allotted 40 pitches and bonus time. Hernández benefited from the pinpoint pitching of Dodgers coach Dino Ebel, a veteran of multiple past Home Run Derby contests, in the three-swing winner-takes-all overtime.

Hernández homered on his second and third cuts. Bohm hit one out to left field on the second pitch, but his third swing landed softly in the outfield grass.

“I do this every day,” Ebel said. “That’s my job. I always joke around with the players: My job is to get lit up in batting practice. I just got to know where they like it.”

Awaiting him was Witt, who has long admired Hernández and his abilities as a well-rounded hitter who happens to possess game-changing power, too.

“I knew every time he playing he’s got crazy juice to all parts of field,” Witt said. “So, it was cool to see him do that.”

Plenty of others concurred. On a night without any long home runs — Ozuna hit the farthest at 473 feet — or rounds with big totals, the end kept everyone on edge.

And it set up the potential return of Guerrero next year, provided his friend — the new champion — looks for a repeat.

“If Teoscar does it,” Guerrero told ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez, “I’m in.”

Adolis Garcia to Take Part in This Year’s Home Run Derby

Adolis Garcia is ready to swing for the fences…

The 31-year-old Cuban professional baseball outfielder , nicknamed “El Bombi,” will represent the host Texas Rangers in Monday night’s Home Run Derby at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Adolis GarcíaGarcía was knocked out by Tampa Bay Rays slugger Randy Arozarena last year in the first round at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park.

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Teoscar Hernandez also confirmed he would participate during Wednesday night’s Phillies-Dodgers broadcast.

This will be Hernandez’s first time in the Derby.

Two Rangers have won the Derby: Ruben Sierra and Cincinnati’s Eric Davis were co-winners in 1989 at Anaheim Stadium, and Juan Gonzalez won in 1993 at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

The New York Mets’Pete Alonso, Philadelphia‘sAlec Bohm, Baltimore‘sGunnar Henderson, Atlanta‘sMarcell Ozuna, Cleveland‘s José Ramírez and Kansas City‘s Bobby Witt Jr. previously committed to the eight-player field.

Alonso will participate in his fifth straight Home Run Derby, trying to win for the third time.

Marcell Ozuna to Compete at This Year’s Home Run Derby

It’s batter up for Marcell Ozuna.

The 33-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, will be competing in the Home Run Derby.

Marcell OzunaOzuna was already heading to Arlington, Texas, as an MLB All-Star.

It’s the third time competing for Ozuna, who last made the team in 2017.

Other confirmed entries in the slugging exhibition include two-time winner Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Alec Bohm, the Baltimore Orioles‘ Gunnar Henderson and Kansas City RoyalsBobby Witt Jr.

More participants will be announced in the coming days.

Ozuna, in the midst of a resurgent season, entered Monday with 23 homers and a National League-leading 72 RBIs.

The Derby will air on July 15 at 8:00 pm ET on ESPN.

Miami Marlins Acquire Emmanuel Rivera From Arizona Diamondbacks

Emmanuel Rivera is headed to South Florida…

The Miami Marlins acquired the 27-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball infielder from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations.

Emmanuel Rivera  The Marlins designated infielder Jacob Amaya for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

Rivera was designated for assignment by Arizona before the start of the season.

He batted .261 with four homers and 29 RBIs in 86 games last season with the Diamondbacks.

He is batting .247 with 17 homers and 74 RBIs in 217 career games with Kansas City Royals (2021-22) and Diamondbacks (2022-23).

Amaya, 25, is hitting .182 with two RBIs in three games with Triple-A Jacksonville this season.

Max Castillo Claimed by Philadelphia Phillies Off Waivers from Boston Red Sox

Max Castillo is Philadelphia bound.

The 24-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher has been claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Max CastilloIn a corresponding move, the Phillies designated outfielder Simon Muzziotti, 25, for assignment on Wednesday.

Castillo, 24, was 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in 20 1/3 innings over seven relief appearances with the Kansas City Royals last season.

The Venezuela native made his major league debut in June 2022 with the Toronto Blue Jays before a trade to the Royals in August 2022.

For his career, Castillo is 0-3 with a 5.43 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 24 walks in 59 2/3 innings over 21 games (six starts).

Boston had claimed him off waivers from Kansas City on January 2 then designated him for assignment on February 2 when catcher Tyler Heineman was acquired from the New York Mets.

Raul Ibanez Named Vice President of Baseball Development & Special Projects for Los Angeles Dodgers

Raul Ibanez is getting a special promotion…

The Los Angeles Dodgers have rehired the 51-year-old Cuban American former professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star in 2009, as their new vice president of baseball development and special projects.

Raul IbanezIbanez spent the past two years working with Major League Baseball as a senior vice president of on-field operations, reporting directly to executive vice president Morgan Sword — who helped spearhead last year’s rule changes — while working on issues related to rules, equipment and on-field technology.

Prior to that, Ibanez spent six years as a special assistant within the Dodgers’ baseball operations department.

Ibanez’s current Dodgers role is full-time, which means he will relinquish his duties with MLB.

Ibanez spent 19 years in the big leagues, accumulating 2,034 hits and 305 home runs while playing for the Seattle MarinersPhiladelphia PhilliesKansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees from 1996 to 2014.

Ibanez’s most productive years were spent in Seattle, but he made his only All-Star team as a member of the Phillies in 2009 and later starred for them in the postseason.

With the Yankees, he had perhaps the most memorable moment of his career, hitting the tying, pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 2012 American League Division Series then the walk-off homer in the 12th.

Seth Lugo Agrees to Three-Year, $45 Million Contract with Kansas City Royals

Seth Lugo is preparing for a Royal(s) moment…

The Kansas City Royals have agreed on a free agent contract with the 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball pitcher as they continue to overhaul their pitching staff.

Seth LugoLugo, a right-handed starter, will receive a three-year, $45 million contract that includes an opt-out after the second season, according to ESPN.

Lugo will be a headliner for the team’s new and improved pitching staff.

In his first full season starting since 2017, he thrived with the San Diego Padres.

With a 3.57 ERA, Lugo struck out 140 and walked just 36 in a career-high 146⅓ innings.

He opted out of his contract with the Padres and hit free agency, and Kansas City, which has canvassed mid-tier free agent pitching, made Lugo a priority after a 56-106 season.

Lugo made his MLB debut in 2016 with the New York Mets.

He played for the Puerto Rican national baseball team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, winning a silver medal.

Juan González Honored with Texas Rangers Hall of Fame Jacket in Pregame Ceremony

Juan González has entered a special Hall

The 53-year-old Puerto Rican former baseball player, a two-time American League MVP received his Texas Rangers Hall of Fame jacket in a pregame ceremony on Friday night, eight years after his induction and 20 years after his last game for the team.

Juan González, One of baseball’s best sluggers in the 1990s, González is still the Rangers’ career leader with 372 home runs, 1,180 RBIs and 713 extra-base hits. He played for the Rangers from 1989 to 1999, during a stretch when they won their first three AL West titles, and the outfielder-designated hitter returned to the club from 2002 to 2003.

González threw a ceremonial first pitch in what was believed to be his first public appearance at a Rangers game since 2004, when he was playing for the Kansas City Royals.

During his first MVP season in 1996, when the Rangers won their first division title, González hit .314 with 47 home runs and 144 RBIs. He was the MVP again in 1998, when he batted .318 with 45 home runs and 157 RBIs in the club’s second playoff season.

Overall, Gonzalez hit .295 with 457 home runs and 1,273 RBIs in 1,689 career games that spanned from his debut at age 19 with the Rangers over the final month of the 1989 season to one game for Cleveland in 2005. He played for Detroit in 2000 after being traded in a nine-player deal then went to Cleveland in free agency in 2001, when he had 140 RBIs in 140 games before re-signing with Texas.

He is now a coach for the national team back home and was an assistant hitting coach for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Atlanta Braves Acquire Nicky Lopez from Kansas City Royals

It’s a Brave(s) new world for Nicky Lopez.

The Atlanta Braves have acquired the 28-year-old Latino American infielder from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for left-hander Taylor Hearn.

Nicky Lopez,  Lopez was batting .210 with three triples and 13 RBIs in 67 games for the Royals this season.

In five seasons, all in Kansas City, he is a career .248 hitter with five home runs and 119 RBIs with 15 triples and 40 steals.

Lopez is considered an above-average fielder at second base and shortstop.

Hearn, 28, had just one outing with the Braves after his contract was purchased from the Texas Rangers on Monday.

He has a 14.73 ERA in five outings with the Braves and Rangers this season. In 93 appearances (25 starts) over five big league seasons, mostly with Texas, Hearn is 12-15 with a 5.26 ERA.

Yoan Moncada to Represent Cuba at Upcoming World Baseball Classic

Yoan Moncada is going native

Cubans signed with Major League Baseball organizations or other foreign clubs, including the 27-year-old Cuban professional baseball third baseman for the Chicago White Sox, will for the first time join local stars on the national team that’ll play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, according to officials.

Yoan MoncadaThe Cuban Baseball Federation long defended the idea of amateurism and punished those who left the island to seek their fortunes in professional baseball.

But that changed when a program on state television announced the roster of 30 players for Cuba’s national team that will play in the international tournament that begins March 8 in Taiwan.

In addition to Moncada and his teammate Luis Robert, plus three players from Triple-A rosters: infielder Andy Ibanez of Detroit Tigers affiliate Toledo Mud Hens, right-hander Miguel Romero of the Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas Aviators and right-hander Ronald Bolanos of the Kansas City Royals‘ Omaha Storm Chasers.

Also on the team will be outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who played for the New York Mets but has not been in the majors since 2018.

Two Cubans who play in Japan were picked, outfielder Yurisbel Gracial of the Pacific League‘s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and catcher Ariel Martinez of the Central League‘s Chunichi Dragons.

To arrange participation of the MLB players, Cuba had to get special permission from the U.S., since Washington maintains sanctions on Cuba. Under the agreement, those players are barred from coming to Cuba to work with the team.

Baseball is the national sport in Cuba but economic difficulties, the philosophy of restricting the movement of athletes and the temptations of professional contracts abroad have decimated the game on the island.