Former Minor Leaguer hits 8 homers in first round; 2007 All-Star event winner belts just 3
By Jesse Sanchez
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The first home run derby during the Caribbean Series proved to be a novel idea, with a mix of anticipated and surprising results.
The format was simple. Participants were asked to hit as many home runs as possible in four minutes. The setting was pitcher-friendly Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal, a stadium famous for its dimensions: 335 feet down the lines and 411 feet in center field.
The star was Vladimir Guerrero, the Dominican legend who hit 449 home runs during his career and won the Home Run Derby in 2007 at the All-Star Game in San Francisco, just like everyone predicted. On Wednesday, Guerrero hit three home runs on 26 swings in the first round and was eliminated. That was a surprise.
"I hit the ball well and I'm really happy," Guerrero said. "It's been a long time since I batted."
The winner was Venezuela's Felix Perez, who spent parts of four seasons in the Minors with the Reds starting in 2010. Perez hit eight home runs on 28 swings in the first round. He hit two more home runs in the final round to outlast Puerto Rico's Neftali Soto, who hit only one home run in the final round. Soto hit four home runs on 29 swings to advance to the final.
"I'm really happy to have this fantastic opportunity," Perez said. "This trophy is dedicated to Venezuela. This is my second Caribbean Series and I'm very grateful to God for this opportunity. I'm very happy to be here."
Also participating was Mexico's Cyle Hankerd, who was drafted by the Cubs in 2003 and the D-backs in '06. Hankerd hit one home run on 30 swings and did not make it out of the first round. The slugger spent five seasons in the Arizona organization and also played in the Minors for the Phillies (2011), White Sox ('12) and Angels ('13). He's spent the past two seasons playing in Mexico.
Cuba's Yosvani Alarcon opened the event with two home runs.
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.