Derby squads provide lots of pop


The 2014 All-Star Game Home Run Derby field has star power, international appeal and a healthy mix of players who've been making waves for a while and others just beginning to emerge on the national scene.

The only thing it lacks is closure.

Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Toronto's Jose Bautista, the respective team captains, named three players each to their squads Tuesday. Tulowitzki added Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton and Todd Frazier to the National League contingent, while Bautista selected Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Jones and hometown favorite Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins.

But Tulowitzki and Bautista are still only 75 percent of the way home. They plan to announce their final picks for the event on Thursday. The Derby will take place Monday night at Target Field in Minneapolis.

Bautista has been particularly challenged to fill out his roster. Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz and Miguel Cabrera all passed on the opportunity to take part. Edwin Encarnacion is on the disabled list with a quad strain, while Victor Martinez (soreness in his side) and Brandon Moss (ankle) are touch-and-go with injuries that have yet to send them to the DL.

So what can we glean from the news so far? A few Derby observations:

The favorites and crowd-pleasers

Stanton's decision to take part was a source of joy to Derby aficionados and anyone who plans to bring a glove and sit in the nether regions of Target Field. He's the only hitter in the field who has busted a video board and been compared favorably to 1960s situation comedy icon Herman Munster in his raw power.

Stanton's 484-foot shot off San Diego's Eric Stults on April 4 is the second-longest home run this season, behind Trout's Bo Jackson-esque shot off Kansas City's Jason Vargas. Some observers were even more impressed by Stanton's recent opposite-field tracer off Jason Hammel, which whizzed over the head of Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo and kept going until it cleared the fence at Marlins Park.

With an average home run distance of 423.8 feet, Stanton is the midseason leader in the competition for the ESPN Hit Tracker's Golden Sledgehammer Award. San Francisco's Michael Morse is second, with an average distance of 420.5 feet, while Puig is third with 417.3.

"He hits the ball so hard -- it's incredible," a National League scout said of Stanton. "He hits a lot of line-drive homers, and he hits them to right field. He hits them anywhere in the ballpark. And if he gets under it and gets some lift, it's like the perfect storm. Break out the tape measure."

Stanton can expect to be pushed by the Cuban tag team of Cespedes and Puig, who bring bat speed, showmanship and a ton of enthusiasm to the party. Cespedes, a non-All-Star in 2013, parachuted into Citi Field as a last-minute entry and left fans and fellow players transfixed on his way to winning the event. If you don't think Puig will warm to the stage, you simply haven't been paying attention.

"He has a flair for the dramatic, and he likes the lights," Tulowitzki said upon announcing the selection of Puig. "I think he's going to do great."

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