SOUTH BEND, IN - The Midwest League has officially announced the participants that will compete in the 2019 Home Run Derby at Four Winds Field on June 17. With the format set up in bracket style, four players from each division will be tested in the ultimate battle of power for a grand prize of $1,000 to the winner.
The field selected for this year's Home Run Derby has the potential to make up one of the most competitive events in Midwest League history. The setup of the competition will be players battling against their own division for the first two rounds. Each round will have a three-minute time limit for each athlete. The player with the most home runs in each head-to-head matchup will advance to the next round.
After the semi-finals, one Eastern Division player and one Western Division player will remain. Those two players will then compete in the championship for the prize money. Second place will also receive $500. The breakdown of the event is listed below:
Round 1: Eight players compete
Round 2: Four players compete
Round 3 (Championship): Two players compete
The players who will represent the Eastern Division include South Bend's Jonathan Sierra, Bowling Green's Chris Betts, Great Lakes' Niko Hulsizer, and Lansing's Jake Brodt.
Jonathan Sierra: Sierra was an international free agent signing of the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 signing period out of the Dominican Republic for $2.5 million. The tall, powerful lefty has hit two home runs this season with one banging off of the 1st Source Bank Performance Center at Four Winds Field.
Chris Betts: Betts was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays organization in the 2nd round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of high school in California. Betts is another lefty with a ton of power and 11 home runs this season. This is his second All-Star nomination after being a 2018 New York-Penn League All-Star.
Niko Hulsizer: Hulsizer was the second player in Loons history to hit three home runs in one game on April 15 at South Bend. With 13 home runs this year, he is a leading candidate to win the Derby after capturing the first-place crown at the 2017 College Home Run Derby in Omaha (52 HR's) before being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jake Brodt: With eight home runs, Brodt has burst onto the scene in the Midwest League this year with the Lansing Lugnuts, affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. He became the seventh D-1 player to hit 2 grand slams in the one inning for Santa Clara vs Boston College in 2018. Brodt finished the game with 3 home runs and 10 RBI.
The Western Division will send Peoria's Nolan Gorman, Clinton's Jerar Encarnacion, Cedar Rapids' Chris Williams, and Kane County's Alek Thomas.
Nolan Gorman: Gorman was taken 19th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2018 MLB Draft. As the winner of the 2018 MLB All-Star High School Home Run Derby, he is a favorite to reach the finals for the West. The lefty homered on his 19th birthday on May 10 in South Bend.
Jerar Encarnacion: Encarnacion has already hit more home runs this season than his first two years of pro baseball in the Miami Marlins organization combined. The power for the righty has exploded in the Midwest League this year with his natural power ability to right field. In 43 games in the New York-Penn League in 2017, Encarnacion hit an impressive .284.
Chris Williams: The former Clemson Tiger Williams started his professional career last season by hitting 15 home runs in 62 games for the Minnesota Twins rookie level affiliate. So far in the Midwest League, he has powered out eight round trippers in 39 games played. In college, he hit 40 home runs in just three seasons.
Alek Thomas: Thomas is the son of Chicago White Sox Director of Strength and Conditioning Allen Thomas. The Chicago native was committed to play college baseball at TCU but was drafted in the second round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. Through the first half, he hit six home runs with Kane County.
The Home Run Derby is set to blast off at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night as a part of Fan Fest at the ballpark. Not only will the Derby be taking place, but Fan Fest will feature autograph sessions with Major League Baseball Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Andre Dawson, along with Chicago Cubs legends Leon Durham, Randy Hundley, Mitch Williams, and Steve Trout.
Tickets to Fan Fest and all All-Star festivities are available by going to SouthBendCubs.com, calling (574) 235-9988, or visiting the South Bend Cubs box office.
2019 Midwest League All-Star Game
The 2019 Midwest League All-Star Game presented by Four Winds Casinos takes place Tuesday, June 18 and will feature some of the most promising players in professional baseball today. It is the first time in 30 years the Midwest League All-Star game will be held in South Bend, Indiana. The 2019 event will kick off with a concert on Sunday, June 16 at Four Winds Field featuring global superstar Pitbull, along with two additional acts. Fan Fest at Four Winds Field will take place on Monday, June 17 and will feature a home run derby with the top hitters in the Midwest League and autograph session with several former Chicago Cubs players along with the 2019 Midwest League All-Star players. In addition, other family-friendly activities include the Splash Pad, Toyota Fun Zone, catch on the field and running of the bases. On Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will headline an All-Star Luncheon at the Century Center in downtown South Bend, with proceeds benefitting Beacon Children's Hospital. For more information on the 2019 Midwest League All-Star Game and any of the events leading up to it, including tickets for the All-Star Luncheon, visit SouthBendCubs.com/ASG.
About the South Bend Cubs
The South Bend Cubs are the Class A minor league affiliate of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Over the past 31 seasons, the team has won five Midwest League titles, most recently in 2005, and has captured 12 division titles. In 2019, the South Bend Cubs will host the Midwest League All-Star Game. In June 2017, Four Winds Field, home of the South Bend Cubs, was voted Best Class A ballpark in the country by Ballpark Digest. In 2015 the team was named Ballpark Digest's Team of the Year and received the John H. Johnson President's Award, the highest award in minor league baseball. The team is owned and operated by Swing-Batter-Swing, LLC whose principal shareholder is Andrew T. Berlin of Chicago, Ill.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.