AFLAC All-American 2006: Home Run Derby

The preliminary round of the AFLAC All-American Home Run Derby took place on Friday in front of a crowd of scouts and family members. Two players outpaced the rest and we have all the results from round one.

Ten swings were given to each player that decided to enter and the derby went long past the allotted time with some players opting to hit, despite their clear pitcher status.

Running away with the first round was outfielder/left-handed pitcher Michael Burgess. He was the first player to draw applause from the entire crowd – the 13th player to wield the stick. Burgess placed five over the wall to lead the competition heading into Saturday. His only challenger came 16 hitters later when catcher Cameron Rupp came to the dish. Rupp sent four balls out of the park, as he and Burgess cemented the top seeds heading into the final day.

After Burgess collected his five, pitcher Greg Peavey wisely said, "Ok, he is going to win." Peavey, incidentally, didn't hit a homer in the competition and barely reached the outfield.

Shortstop/Right-handed pitcher Justin Jackson took center stage as the first combatant and broke his bat a few swings in on a ball that he had hit squarely, sending it 100 feet from home instead. He would hit the wall and get no closer, ending with a tally of zero.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal got the juices flowing as the second man to hit with two bombs, a number that would be matched by five other players, including outfielder Steven Brooks who followed him, left-handed pitcher Joshua Smoker, outfielder Sequoyah Stonceipher, catcher Robert Stock, and left-handed pitcher Drake Britton.

Right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez, the 16th player to hit, became the first to swing at a pitch and miss. He was joined by Stock later in the competition – the only two players to share that dubious distinction.

Left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner didn't homer over his first eight swings when his teammates urged him to take his sunglasses off. He did and it resulted in a bomb on the next pitch. It would be the only dinger he would get.

Catcher/First baseman Danny Rams, a favorite entering the competition, didn't fare well over his first five swings. Two of his teammates came over with a towel to wipe his head, a "refreshment break," according to the P.A. announcer. There was no helping Rams on this day as he ended up without a homer.

Infielder John Tolisano "rang the bell" with a monster shot, quite literally. His moonshot hit a pole well past the fence and a loud clang reverberated through the complex. It was his lone homer of the day.

The West squad struggled mightily to begin their half of the derby. The pitcher was throwing the ball way too slow and the ball was dipping into and out of the zone rather than the straighter and faster ball that the East's pitcher threw. It led to three homers being hit among the first seven batters – including a shutout of one of the favorites, Freddie Freeman.

Derby results in order of appearance:

East Team:
Justin Jackson (SS/RHP) – 0
Yasmani Grandal (C) – 2
Steven Brooks (OF) – 2
Rick Porcello (RHP) – 0
Joshua Smoker (LHP) – 2
Jason Heyward (OF/1B) – 1
D.J. LeMahieu (INF) – 0
Matt Harvery (RHP) – 0
Madison Bumgarner (LHP) – 1
Derrick Dietrick (3B/RHP) – 1
Danny Rams (1B/C) – 0
John Tolisano (INF) – 1
Michael Burgess (OF/LHP) – 5
Hunter Morris (OF/RHP) – 1
Neil Ramirez (RHP) – 0

West Team:
Nick Noonan (SS) – 1
Christian Colon (INF) - 0
Freddie Freeman (1B/RHP) - 0
Erik Goeddel (RHP) – 0
Sequoyah Stonecipher (OF) - 2
Blake Beaven (RHP) – 0
Greg Peavey (RHP) - 0
Jon Gilmoure (INF/RHP) - 1
Kevin Keyes (OF) – 1
Tim Alderson (RHP) - 0
Robert Stock (C/RHP) - 2
Paul Demny (RHP) - 0
Tanner Robles (LHP) - 0
Cameron Rupp (C)- 4
Kyle Blair (RHP) – 1
Josh Vitters (3B) - 0
Drake Britton (LHP) - 2
Brett Krill (OF) - 0

The one problem with Friday's practice, and it was echoed by several scouts, was the pace of the action. On Thursday, scouts were treated to a scrimmage but Friday had infield work and outfield work, along with batting practice out of the cages.

"What can we get out of this," one National League scout said. "About the only thing is mechanics while a player is in the cages and the arm of an outfielder throwing to the different bases."

The overall consensus is they would have better served to see another scrimmage, especially when the Area Code Games in Long Beach were a succession of games over the course of the day.

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