Young sluggers mash in 5th annual HS Derby
MIAMI -- The ping of aluminum bats echoed throughout Marlins Park.
Some balls crashed in the upper deck and others banged into the bullpens in left field and right field. A few even bounced off the park's famous sculpture in center.
The fifth annual High School Home Run Derby on Sunday featured seven of the game's top high school sluggers launching balls deep into the stands. It eventually turned into a family affair.
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The top two finalists -- Noah Naylor of St. Joan of Arc Catholic School (Mississauga, Ontario) and Nolan Gorman of Sandra Day O'Connor HS (Glendale, Ariz.) -- competed in between breaks of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday.
Naylor was cheered on by his older brother, Josh, who participated in the same event in 2014 and was drafted in the first round by the Marlins the following year. Josh, who is on the roster for the World team in Sunday's Futures Game, was joined on the field by fellow Canadians and World team players Cal Quantrill and Mike Soroka to celebrate Noah.
"It's such a great feeling having someone on your side," Noah Naylor said. "My brother just told me to stay focused, keep everything in and try to stay within myself and not try to do too much. It's almost surreal. This is an amazing feeling to be in this situation."
Gorman finished second in the competition.
"This was awesome, and it's going to be a once- in-a-lifetime experience [Monday]," Gorman said. "It was a lot of fun out there, and I'm glad I was able to show what I can do. I'll have the same approach Monday -- just have some fun."
This year's field also included infielder Bryce Bush of De La Salle Collegiate HS (Warren, Mich.), outfielder Elijah Cabell of Winter Park (Fla.) High School, first baseman Triston Casas of American Heritage School (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), outfielder Jarred Kelenic of Waukesha (Wis.) West High School, and shortstop Kevin Vargas of International Baseball Academy High School (Salinas, Puerto Rico).
All players were selected by Major League Baseball, USA Baseball and Major League Baseball International.
Participants in the High School Home Run Derby often get drafted the next summer. The list of the event's notable alumni includes Royce Lewis, Hunter Greene and Jo Adell, all of whom participated in the derby last summer at Petco Park and were then selected in the top 10 of the Draft last month.
Two years ago, the event featured 2016 draftees such as Andrew Yerzy, selected in the second round by the D-backs; William Benson, selected in the first round by the Indians, Nicholas Quintana, picked by the Red Sox in the 11th round; Carlos Cortes, selected in the 20th round by the Mets; and Joey Wentz, a supplemental first-round pick by the Braves.
Also competing with Naylor in 2014 were second-round pick Chris Betts (Rays) and fifth-rounder Jason Heinrich (Orioles). Jacob Gatewood, who was picked 41st overall by the Brewers in 2014, starred in the first contest at Citi Field in 2013.