AFLAC Classic Report: Day Three

The annual AFLAC All-American Classic home run derby, being played on two different days this season, began with its first round of eliminations on Friday afternoon. Thirty derby participants were whittled down to four and the final four was a little shocking, to say the least. Two catchers highlight the remaining final four.

Outfielder Cody Johnson of Panama City, Florida, was the odds on favorite to at least be among the four finalists in the championship round of the AFLAC Classic Home Run Derby prior to Saturday's all-star game. Johnson, who was awarded the Jackie Robinson Award as the nation's top high school baseball player on Thursday night, not only didn't make the final round, he failed to hit one home run in the preliminary round on Friday.

Launching mammoth home runs to deep right field and right center field in the batting practice prior to the first round of the home run derby, even hitting a few into the adjacent street some 50 feet beyond the right-field fence, Johnson's omission from Saturday's final in the home run derby was not the only surprising note on Friday.

East Team's assistant coach Cecil Espy was one of the many onlookers that was shocked by Johnson's inability to put one over the fence during the competition. "They should put him in the final round anyway," said Espy. "He's too good not to be in the final round."

Equally surprising as Johnson's lack of power in the derby was who actually lead all players after round one. Catcher Torre Langley, the smallest AFLAC player at a generously listed 5'10" and 175 pounds, wound up leading all participants in the home run derby with 6 home runs in round one.

While Langley has impressed many people with his ability behind the plate and has noticeable leadership skills on the field, he did not showcase that type of power all week long at the workouts until his explosion in the first round of the home run derby on Friday afternoon.

Catcher Robby Alcombrack of the West Team finished round one in second place with four home runs. Six other players finished the first round tied with three home runs before dueling it out in an additional round to try and pare the field down to four finalists. Each of the six players were given five more swings to see who would advance.

David Christensen and Chris Marrero of the East Team, along with Ryan Adams, Kyle Drabek, Grant Green, and Jeff Rapoport of the West Team each finished round one with three home runs before having a playoff for the final two spots.

In the end, RHP/SS Kyle Drabek, considered one of the favorites to advance to the final round of the derby on Saturday, hit two home runs as did outfielder Jeff Rapoport in the "overtime" period of the derby. With Drabek, Rapoport, and Alcombrack, the West Team has three of the four finalists in Saturday's AFLAC Home Run Derby Championship.

Stat Of The Day

As previously noted, one of the glaring omissions in Saturday's final of the home run derby will be Cody Johnson. However, he was not the only early favorite to reach the finals to falter in the first round of the derby on Friday.

Like Johnson, outfielder Devin Sheperd of the West Team put on a home run display of his own in the batting practice prior to the first round on Friday. He even hit one home run to deep left center field that landed halfway up the trees behind the fence, an approximated 400 feet from home plate. Sheperd was arguably considered one of the favorites to advance on Friday.

However, the two early favorites were beaten by a few pitchers in the home run department on Friday. RHP Jeremy Jeffress, LHP Kasey Kiker, RHP Matt Latos, LHP Taylor Hammock, RHP Jordan Walden, and RHP Colton Willems - all full-time pitchers - each had a home run of their own in the derby on Friday.

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