The lone representative of the Carolina League's Northern Division, Potomac's Michael Burgess is a power prospect who entered the 2010 season as the proud owner of 54 career minor league home runs spanning three seasons including 19 last year with the P-Nats. Burgess has swatted six big flies this year. Joining Burgess in representing the Carolina League are two pairs of teammates from the top of the Southern Division. Salem's Ryan Lavarnway started off the season on an indescribable tear. The co-league leader in homers with 14 as of his naming to the Derby, Lavarnway batted over .400 for the bulk of the season's first month and has distributed his power equally this year with six homers in April, five in May, and three so far in June. His teammate Oscar Tejeda has sizzled in the month of June to the tune of a .431 average in 14 games. His hot month comes after a cool May in which Tejeda saw his average drop from .375 to .313. Tejeda boasts eight bombs this year, matching his career total prior to 2010.
From the Winston-Salem Dash, the team with the second-best average in all of affiliated baseball, comes the Carolina League's other home run leader, Seth Loman. The monstrous left-handed slugger knows something about western baseball, having been born in Bakersfield, California and currently residing in Las Vegas. Loman has crushed 14 homers this year including three at All-Star Game site BB&T Coastal Field. The Home Run Derby will boast a local addition as well, as Loman's Dash teammate and South Carolina native Justin Greene will show off his power swing in the festivities. Greene, a high school teammate of Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitcher Matt Crim in the Charleston area, attended Francis Marion University just under 70 miles away from Myrtle Beach. Green has had family members and friends in attendance for his games on the Grand Strand over the past year. He is currently second on the Dash with eight homers this season.
From the west, two more pairs of teammates lighting up the California League skies highlight the Cal League's opposing five. Like the Carolina League, the California League's top two teams send two sluggers to Myrtle Beach. The reigning league-champion San Jose Giants boast the league's leading hitter in Brandon Belt who brings his eight homers to BB&T Coastal Field along with the seven of teammate Juan Perez. The Lake Elsinore Storm, first-half champions in the California League South Division, also offer up a duo to the 2010 Home Run Derby. Top San Diego Padres shortstop prospect Drew Cumberland and San Diego's third-best center field prospect Blake Tekotte will arrive in Myrtle Beach with the same home run totals as Belt and Perez; eight for Tekotte and seven for Cumberland. The High Desert Mavericks, who claim the most homers in the California League, send their best. First baseman Rich Poythress, the 28th overall prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization and Mavs team leader with 13 jacks, will take his hacks in the Derby as well.
When comparing leagues as a whole, a home run contest would be no competition. The firepower-laden California League has smashed a combined 492 home runs, an average of 49.2 per team in the ten-squad circuit. The Carolina League has hit far fewer round-trippers with just 330 league-wide, although there are only eight clubs in the league. The Carolina per-team average is not extremely far behind, though, breaking down to 41.25 jacks per club. The Home Run Derby site, BB&T Coastal Field, is no bandbox. The Pelicans' home ballpark has yielded just 38 home runs in the 2010 season, a total that ranks as third-fewest in the Carolina League.
Tuesday evening's Home Run Derby will take place starting at 5 PM following each team's batting practice and autograph sessions. In the first round, all five players from each league will get ten outs with which they can swing for the fences and try to hit the most home runs. Any swing that does not put a baseball over the outfield wall in fair territory will be considered an out. The top two homer hitters from each league in the first round will move onto a five-out second round, and the two league champions from that round will square off for the 2010 Home Run Derby championship. First pitch for the evening's California-Carolina League All-Star Game is slated for 7:36 PM.
Tickets are still available for the 2010 California-Carolina All-Star Game Tuesday, June 22 at BB&T Coastal Field. Tickets are also available for the All-Star Gala to be held at the House of Blue Myrtle Beach on Monday, June 21. That evening's event will consist of all-you-can-eat food and drinks as well as live musical entertainment and an introductory program for members of the California and Carolina League All-Star rosters. For more information, contact the Pelicans Box Office at (843)918-6000 or (877)918-TIXX, online at www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com, or by stopping by BB&T Coastal Field.