Welcome to The Upper Deck, Baseball America’s daily look at the biggest stories around the game and some lighter fare. If you have videos, GIFs, photos or stories you want us to know about and feature in this space, hit me up on Twitter at @vincelara or email me here.
Hut, Hut, Hike!
The chance to play in a College World Series is an opportunity of a lifetime. College baseball players everywhere would give everything for a shot to play in Omaha. The stakes have never been higher for them, and every game matters exponentially more than the last. For the LSU baseball team, clearly the pressure is getting to . . . wait, are they playing football?
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 19, 2017
Someone Call An Electrician!
The Carolina League Home Run Derby was held Monday, and some serious bats were involved—including Eloy Jimenez, the Cubs’ top prospect, and No. 11 on the Baseball America Top 100. While Jimenez didn’t advance to the finals—Jake Gatewood and Sicnarf Loopstok held those honors—he did put on a smashing performance.
Eloy Jimenez just went Roy Hobbs on the stadium lights. pic.twitter.com/wD2521SedW
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) June 20, 2017
Meanwhile, at the Southern League Home Run Derby, Gabby Guerrero, playing for Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate Pensacola, took the derby crown. While he didn’t break any lights, he did receive a pretty nifty prize—a paddleboard. I’m not sure how the waves look in Pensacola, but cowabunga my dude.
The man and his prize pic.twitter.com/LVM2a9InyD
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) June 19, 2017
Keep Your Eye on the Ball . . . or Not
On the opposite side of the country from the Carolina League and the Southern League was the California League’s festivities. In addition to the traditional Home Run Derby, there was a charity baseball game with fans and All-Stars. For Rancho Cucamonga’s Dennis Santana, it was a tough night at the plate with his eyesight otherwise occupied.
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) June 20, 2017
Chip off the ‘Ol Block
Finally, at the Midwest League Home Run derby, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (yeah, you know who his father is) put on a show at the plate. The 18-year-old has four home runs this season for Lansing, the Blue Jays’ low Class A affiliate.
So in the first round of the Midwest League home run derby we got to watch Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit bombs for three minutes. Early leader. pic.twitter.com/s4iJajuQNV
— Alexis Brudnicki (@baseballexis) June 20, 2017
A Grand Performance for K.J. Harrison
It’s been seven years since someone hit a grand slam at the College World Series, and no one has ever hit one out of TD Ameritrade Park—until Monday night, that is. Oregon State’s K.J. Harrison’s sixth-inning slam gave the Beavers a 8-0 lead at the time:
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 20, 2017
Royce Rolls In
No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis officially signed his contract with the Twins—for a reported $6,725,000 bonus—and met with the media on Monday, as well as Twins players and big league manager Paul Molitor.
Happenings at Baseball America
Florida State defeated Cal State Fullerton 6-4 on Monday, and Mike Lananna has the story. . . Kyle Glaser talked with Padres’ No. 4 prospect Cal Quantrill on his strong finish to the first half. . . Hudson Belinsky takes a look at Anthony Seigler, an ambidextrous high school pitcher who thrived at the Perfect Game National Showcase.