Great Lakes Loons outfielder Carlos Rincon hit a combined 38-homers over the course of three rounds, beating out three other participants (who all have Major League DNA) in the last 2-rounds to take home the 2017 Midwest League Home Run Derby Crown at Dow Diamond Tuesday night.
Rincon managed 6-Home Runs in the first round to advance to the semi-final round, hitting 13-Home Runs, before his 20-Bombs in the final 4-minute round, where he knocked off former MLB star Vladimir Guerrero's son, Vlad Guerrero Jr. (of the Lansing Lugnuts) who ran out of gas, calling it quits with 50-seconds left on the clock and only 5-Home Runs.
“He felt really good in his last round,” Loons manager Jeremy Rodriguez said, translating for Rincon. “He felt like it was his duty, as a Loon (the host team) and he didn't want to put pressure on himself, but he felt like he needed to win it, especially in that last round, so he put a little extra into it.”
Rincon had 13-Home Runs in the 3-minute semi-final round, while Guerrero Jr. hit 11 to advance to the final round, beating out former MLB star Fernando Tatis' son, Fernando Tatis Jr. (Fort Wayne Tincaps) who had 8-Home Runs; along with the grandson of former Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan, Blaise Salter (West Michigan Whitecaps) who had 6-Home Runs.
The 19-year old native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic felt his swing getting stronger in the semi-final round and knew his fellow countryman, Guerrero Jr. (who was born in Montreal during his father's playing days, but grew up in the Dominican Republic) would be strong as well.
So, he set a goal of 15-Home Runs in the final round, thinking 15 is what would be needed to take home the title. Turns out he actually only needed six, however, to be safe he went ahead and hit twenty.
“There was a lot of competition, especially with Vlad Guerrero Jr. in the final,” Rincon said through Rodriguez. “He knew he had to hit at least fifteen to win it. If he hit less than fifteen, it was definitely going to be a close one, but if he could hit fifteen he knew he could take it.”
Rincon, who was signed as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a 16 year old, had not been named to the 2017 MWL All Star Roster, but when a player dropped out due to an injury, Rodriguez (who is also the manager of the east squad following the Loons' 2016 MWL championship run, and knows Rincon's power from throwing batting practice to him) requested a waiver from the league after being asked to add another player to the Home Run Derby lineup.
“I had been throwing BP to him for the last three months,” Rodriguez said of recognizing Rincon's ability to hit for power. “And (recently) I was talking to some of our coordinators up front, and they were saying that if Rincon could be in this, he could have a chance because his swing-path, is just a home run swing-path. So, when they asked me for a fill-in for the home run derby, my first choice was definitely Carlos Rincon.”
The 6-foot-4 Rincon is currently in third place with 11-homers in the 2017 race for the most MWL home runs.
Loons infielder (2017 MWL All Star) Brendon Davis was also a last-minute addition to the Home Run Derby lineup after Lansing Lugnuts All Star Bo Bichette, son of former MLB player, Dante Bichette, dropped out of the derby yesterday.
Davis only managed 1-Home Run in the first round and was eliminated early, but could be seen as Rincon's biggest supporter from the sidelines.
Davis will join his skipper, Rodriguez and his fellow Loons teammates Keibert Ruiz (catcher) and Dustin May (pitcher) in the mid-summer classic Tuesday night at Dow Diamond.
2017 MWL Home Run Derby First Round Results:
Josh Lester- West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers)- 4
Brendon Davis- Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers)- 1
Jesus Sanchez- Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays)- 3
Carlos Rincon- Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers)- 5
Fernando Tatis Jr.- Fort Wayne Tincaps (San Diego Padres)- 6
Marcus Wilson- Kane County Cougars (Arizona Diamondbacks)- 0
Blaise Salter- West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers)- 5
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.- Lansing Lugnuts (Toronto Blue Jays)- 8
Second Round Results:
Tatis Jr.- 8
Guerrero Jr.- 11
Final Round Results:
Guerrero Jr.- 5