Kwang-Min Kwon wins HR Derby; DJ Wilson is the runner-up (Photos and Video)

Today was HR Derby Day and there were 10 participants (pictured below in the gallery).  Ty Wright was the PA announcer/comedian, sometimes slipping in a Michael Buffer impersonation.

Some of his one liners…

  • “Jonathan Sierra is the youngest participant at age 13” (He is actually 16).
  • “Don’t get excited everyone, that’s not Ivan Drago, that’s Ian Happ”
  • “And coming all the way from the good Korea, Kwang-Min Kwon…”

The players were involved in the fun too.  Eloy Jimenez and Chris Pieters were cheering everyone on.  Frandy De La Rosa, Andruw Monasterio, and Jose Paniagua acted like the corner guys in a boxing ring, offering water, a towel, an occasional slap on the backside, and perhaps some words of support. Here is Frandy De La Rosa offering Matt Rose his support…

Vimael Machin was cracking everyone up — especially Kevonte Mitchell — with his rather unique sideline commentary.  Machin, by the way, is about as fluent a bilingual speaker as I’ve heard.  That will come in handy as a catcher, a position he is converting to this fall.

As for the Derby itself, DJ Wilson jumped out to an early lead with 10 points. The scoring was 1 point for each HR and 3 pts for a HR with the Golden Baseball, which was thrown every 5 pitches (pictured in the gallery below). He may not have been the biggest contestant out there, but he showed some serious bat speed. You can see a couple of swings here…

Catcher Ian Rice and 2B Ian Happ shared 2nd place deep into the first round for the right to challenge Wilson in the finals — but both were eliminated when 17 year old Kwang-Min Kwon went on a HR binge, even topping Wilson with 11 points.

DJ Wilson didn’t fare as well in the championship round, getting just 4 pts. That set the stage for Kwon (with some time out support from Monasterio)…and he delivered. Kwon then rounded the bases to chant of “Kwon, Kwon, Kwon…”, was mobbed by his teammates…and got a bit of an early shower as he reached home plate.

This was a a lot of fun. The players have been working hard on drills (including earlier today), so it was kind of fun to see them let loose a little.

Side note: Eloy  Jimenez was pulled at the last minute from the HR competition to give others a chance — but he put on a show in regular BP, where he put a couple on the roof of the Performance Center beyond the LF wall.  Dan Vogelbach and Willson Contreras also showed up to take some BP, showing the kids the kind of consistent good swings and hard contact they should hope to make one day.

Below is a gallery of the contestants in the order that they participated…

Congrats to Kwon!

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    Happ looks like he just completed a golf swing. Is his swung that beautiful?

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    He does have a nice swing. We liked that pic because of how he ended up there.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Certainly not MY golf swing(;-).

  • Did they say why Jimenez was pulled?

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    Just to give other guys a chance. He's been in two of them. Kevonte Mitchell was pulled for a similar reason.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That makes sense. Looking forward to seeing Jimenez in the Midwest League before too long.

  • If DJ made contact with the ball in the photo of him in the gallery, he's got some SERIOUS bat speed. Great pic capturing ball!

    Nice shots and video, John. They really give us a flavor of what instructs and the chemistry of this organization are like.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    He made at least some contact with every pitch and pulled most of them -- they were all pulling the ball since it was the HR derby.

    And thanks, that was what I was hoping to convey. They always try to keep it somewhat loose, but it was a lighter atmosphere than usual today, so you got to see some of the personalities stand out.

  • This is great, John - thanks! The coaches down there are making it fun to be in the Cubs organization while working their butts off. Baseball is supposed to be fun.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks. The coordinators/instructors do a great job of mixing it up down here.

  • Kwon looks large. Wow.

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